Author Spotlight: Lydia Lukidis
Oct. 18, 2019
Today we are pleased to feature author Lydia Lukidis and her picture book, NO BEARS ALLOWED, illustrated by Tara J. Hannon (Blue Whale Press, 2019)
Be sure to enter to win a copy!
Be sure to enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’ve been writing since the age of six, mostly in the form of poetry and short stories. When it came time for my studies, I got degrees in both Pure and Applied Science and English Literature, not realizing how the two would be connected in my professional life later on. But upon graduating University, I took another road altogether and co-founded my own puppetry company. I built string marionettes and wrote plays for children of all ages. My adventures brought me as far as China and Russia for international puppetry festivals. That’s when it dawned on me: I LOVE writing for children! In 2013, I decided to focus exclusively on writing books for children and have never looked back. I write a lot about STEM related topics, and my background in science now comes in handy.
Thank-you! Like a lot of my work, NO BEARS ALLOWED was character driven. The notion of a rabbit who’s afraid of everything, especially bears, emerged first. As I contemplated what adventures he would find himself on, a loveable yet slightly goofy bear came to mind. What would happen if they met? Could they somehow develop an unlikely friendship? These questions directed the narrative. The themes of learning to overcome your fears and not judging or assuming things about others are woven throughout the story.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It was most definitely long and winding for this one! Here’s a quick snapshot:
2012- YAY! The idea for the book was born. I tucked it away in my ideas folder and left it aside for a while.
2015- Inspiration finally struck and I wrote the first draft. It went through endless edits before I felt it was ready.
2016- Yahoo, I got my first agent! She subbed NO BEARS ALLOWED but alas, we didn't get any bites.
2017- More bad news. Things weren't quite working out with my agent. With a heavy heart, I parted ways with her and a month later, crawled back into the querying trenches.
2017- Wow! After querying for only a little while, I received three offers! I researched each agent diligently and decided on one with a great body of work from a reputable agency. BUT- she felt NO BEARS ALLOWED was too “quiet” and did not sub it. It was shelved.
2018- After asking for the agent's blessing, I decided to sub the story myself. It was one of my favorites and I was determined to find a house for it. (ps a few months later, I parted ways with my agent, yet again, and was flying solo.)
2018- Success! Alayne Christian from Blue Whale Press acquired it and the talented Tara J. Hannon illustrated it.
|© Blue Whale Press|
What are you working on now?
I’m working on several nonfiction picture books that are really exciting. There’s one book in particular I feel very passionate about, and I’ll get back into the querying trenches and reach out to agents with that one. I spent over a year researching that topic and speaking with experts in the field. More news on that soon.
I’m also working on my first middle grade novel based on Greek mythology. This project has been in the works for several years and I’m excited about it. I grew up with Greek mythology in my soul as it was part of my culture, so it seemed like a natural choice for me.
What are the 1 or 2 best things you did for your writing career, and is this advice you'd give to others?
What I’ve learned is that there isn’t one “recipe” for success. Years ago, I thought having an agent would automatically mean big writing contracts, but that isn’t always the case. The most important thing is to be diligent about your research. You need to know the industry inside out, research agents, read interviews with them, compile a list of publishers that could fit your style, and become a member of writing groups like the awesome Kidlit411. The more you know, the more you’ll be able to navigate your way through the winding and sometimes tricky journey writers find themselves on.
Another piece of advice is to be flexible and follow the flow. If for example, things don’t work out with your agent, know that you will survive. Keep going until you find the right agent, if that is your end goal. If a story is falling flat and the momentum has slowed down, don’t force it, leave it aside for a while and come back to it later. And if the story just isn’t working no matter how you try, you need to be willing to let it go and move on. Instead, follow the flow of what IS working, and that will bring you to the next place you need to be. This path is not always linear and you need to be comfortable with that.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
True story: I went to McGill University with none other than Margaret Atwood’s daughter! I was literally star struck. She would tell me casual stories of dinner parties with Irving Layton and Leonard Cohen. I was mesmerized and admittedly, may have been obsessed with her.
I’m a big poetry buff. The words of Maya Angelou and Phyllis Webb along with Margaret Atwood and Leonard Cohen transformed me as a person. I would like to get back into writing poetry myself.
Where can people find you online?
Lydia Lukidis is a children's author with a multi-disciplinary background that spans the fields of literature, science and puppetry. So far, she has 3 trade picture books, 33 eBooks, as well as over dozen educational books published. Her latest STEM books include The Broken Bees’ Nest and The Space Rock Mystery.
Lydia is also passionate about spreading the love of literacy. She regularly gives writing workshops in elementary schools across Quebec through the Culture in the Schools Program. Her aim is to help children cultivate their imagination, sharpen their writing skills and develop self-confidence.
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