Author Spotlight: Elaine Kiely Kearns
Mar. 22, 2019
This week we are so excited to feature picture book author (and KidLit411 co-founder) Elaine Kiely Kearns and her new book, NOAH NOASAURUS, illustrated by Colin Jack(Albert Whitman, April 1, 2019)
Enter to win one of two signed copies (will be mailed out in mid-April)!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for kids.
Like many authors, I was the kid who loved to read and write. I can remember thinking as a child that I'd love to be an author when I grew up, but it did not seem like a practical choice. It wasn't until I had my own children and when I was once again surrounded by books for kids that I started to consider writing them. I was already a elementary school teacher at that point so it felt like a natural extension of that career.
Congrats on your debut picture book, NOAH NOASAURUS (illustrated by Colin Jack). Tell us about it and what inspired you.
Noah Noasaurus is the story about a little dino who wakes up feeling very NO. No to brushing his teeth. No to eating breakfast. And definitely NO to playing with his little brother. Things only get worse when he goes for a walk and the relentlessly cheerful Toby Rex, Brian Brontosaurus, and Ava Ceratops follow him. Together, the group starts a bona fide dino parade that even Noah can’t resist. This lighthearted, whimsical story will have readers laughing along at Noah and his friends—as well as at their own bad moods.
I got the idea for this story in two parts- on two separate occasions. The first idea came when I was scrolling through #MSWL and I read that an editor said that she would love to see a picture book about kids going through the NO stage. The second part was born when I was tutoring a first grader who was OBSESSED with dinosaurs. I started out each session by letting him tell me about some new dinosaur factoid that he had learned the previous week (so we could then focus on the task) and this one particular week he started to tell me about a new dinosaur that had been recently discovered called a noasaurus. I felt the hair stand up on my skin! I knew when he said it that it was the character I was looking for and so I married the two ideas. I could not wait to get home that day and write. I had a draft done in a few days. I sent it to my agent, Linda Epstein (Emerald City Literary Agency) and she loved it. A few weeks later we added the first name. We chose NOAH because the NO element in the name fit well. That followed a lot of revisions and then a final overhaul when I took Arree Chung's wonderful picture book course through Storyteller Academy. My agent sold the book to Albert Whitman a few months later.
Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication was not short but not long either so I would have to say it was something in between. I started writing seriously in 2011 and wrote many crappy manuscripts (I still write crappy draft manuscripts...) before I signed with my agent in 2016. It was another year and a half before I sold NOAH NOASAURUS to Albert Whitman. Considering publishing is so slow, I'd have to say that in retrospect, it wasn't that long at all.
What projects are you working on now?
I’m working on three very fun (secret) projects right now and I cannot wait to share them! And like everyone else, I have many, many manuscripts in various stages of development. I am working on a brand new character-driven picture book that (so far) I love.
What are some things most people don't know about you?
I love ALL food but my favorite is pizza.
I am a first-generation American. My parents immigrated to the United States in the late 60's.
I love animals- I have a golden retriever named Molly, a cat, Bailey, 2 birds, many fish, and a rabbit. All of them were rescues!
Where can people find you online?
NOAH NOASAURUS (Albert Whitman) illustrated by Colin Jack hits bookshelves on April 1, 2019.
She lives in New York with her husband, two smart, beautiful daughters and a menagerie of animals. Find her online at elainekielykearns.com
She is represented by Linda Epstein of the Emerald City Literary Agency.