This month we welcome Kari Lavelle to our member interview series. Her debut picture book, WE MOVE THE WORLD (HarperCollins, May 2021) is about the small things kids already do everyday that have the potential to change the world. In this inspirational book, kids learn that “before folks like Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Neil Armstrong, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sylvia Earle were activists and trailblazers, they spoke their first words, took their first steps, and dreamed about the future.”
Where did you grow up, and how did that place (or those places) shape your work?
I grew up in the Midwest – born in Omaha and later moved to Kansas (after a few years in Spokane, WA). The midwestern mentality affects more of my fictional projects than my nonfiction manuscripts (so far at least!).
Did you always want to be an author, or did that come later?
No, I didn’t think about being an author really until 2010. I loved my role as a speech pathologist for 15 years. Words are my jam…
If someone were to follow you around for 24 hours, what would they see?
After walking our dogs, my day includes a little bit of parenting (or some days A LOT!); my writing routine (morning pages, revision, research, and continued learning) with a splash of procrastination; my meditation practice; internet rabbit holes driven by my curiosity and of course, reading!
How does your everyday life feed your work?
My everyday life is guided by my curiosity, love for stories, and ability to find connections. I remind myself to use my imagination for good, not evil (=which looks like anxiety in me when I let my brain go too far!).
Tell us about some accomplishments that make you proud.
Launching a book is momentous, launching a debut book during a pandemic is even trickier! Getting through this pandemic as a parent/wife of a restaurant owner (with just a few scrapes) also makes me feel proud.
What surprises you about the creative life?
Building relationships with other writers/illustrators is so wonderful – the connections with my fellow creatives are unbeatable!
When a reader discovers your work, what do you hope they find?
I hope readers see ways they make the world a better place and discover new ideas.
Which of your favorite childhood pastimes connect to your writing?
Of course, the obvious, reading! But also, using my imagination – I was an only child until I was almost 7 years old and my imagination provided me constant entertainment. I convinced my younger neighbors that I was a twin. I still remember the names of my students in my pretend classroom.
What empowered you to write and query your debut book?
Even though WE MOVE THE WORLD was my first book to sell, I never queried it! I have an unannounced picture book biography that I was actively querying and I knew it was a story I needed to share.
What’s one way the world has moved you lately?
Scientists! Were it not for the vaccine, how long would we have needed to stay quarantined?