Tell us how you ventured into the world of children’s books.
After my fourth son started his first day of school, I was excited to get back into writing again. I attended a course in Melbourne several years before.
Wonderful Wishes was revised in 2022 and turned into a physical book that I’m proud of. I worked with my mother-in-law as illustrator and hired another editor that specialised in rhyme for its fourth and final edit. I re-designed the front cover and changed its name. Now, how was I going to get this out there?
I searched high and low for some much-needed guidance and found a publisher that offered services I needed and got the ball rolling to help me move forward.
Describe your favourite writing style.
I adore rhyme. It’s fun, but it took me by surprise when learning how to write rhyme well. It’s harder than it looks. Getting a rhyme to work without sacrificing the story is a challenge.
Who has influenced you the most in your writing career?
To be honest I read a book when I was younger called, I Think I Just Saw Santa by Howard Rees. The clever way it was presented inspired me to write. It’s such a great book, simple yet smart in the way the pictures and the rhyme flow. I also love Mem Fox – Where is the Green Sheep, is fun. I used to read it to my boys a lot. Another book I never get bored with is Down the Back of the Chair by Margaret Μahy.
What books did you enjoy reading as a child?
I was a ‘Choose your Adventure’ kind of reader. I loved deciding my endings with those books. I loved flap books like The Very Hungry Caterpillar. I was the kind of kid that needed to have interactive ways to keep me reading. I also enjoy incorporating additional elements and characters in my books to entertain readers.
If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you tell her?
Someday, someone will finally see you for who you are and love you for just being yourself.
Always do what makes you happy.
It’s ok to be me (I have a book on this topic coming out 2023).
There will be heartache at the start of your family planning journey, but know that one day you are going to be totally blessed by a house full of sons.
You have recently released two picture books, both with strong themes of imagination but each with a different feel. Please tell us a bit about Wonderful Wishes and Imagine Our Special Place.
Wonderful Wishes was inspired by my sons’ obsessions throughout their childhood. From trains to dinosaurs, I wanted to add characters and elements in my work that children tend to gravitate towards. It is an imaginative rhyming story full of wonderful wishes and stunning hand painted illustrations by Rosy Sale, that will get young minds thinking about what they could dream of before bedtime.
Imagine Our Special Place needed to be told as a story, not in rhyme form. It’s a delicate journey two siblings take while visiting the hospital. It is a book I wrote as a part of my healing process after losing my dad and sister to cancer.
Why were these stories important for you to tell?
Both stories have a unique place on the shelves. They are different but the same in a sense. I use imagination in my stories and hope it sparks that in young minds. It’s such a powerful tool to have even as adults. When things are difficult, we tend to imagine going on an amazing holiday or doing something that helps us cope. I wanted to share that level of comfort for my audience.
With your latest release, Imagine Our Special Place, what do love most about the illustrations by Sandunika Dissanayake?
I love that they are telling the story by just looking at them. I asked that we put the bunny (representing ‘hope’) on each page and she did that so well.
My favourite illustration from Sandunika is the two siblings sitting on the clouds above the hospital. I loved how she used soft, yet bright colours throughout the book. The star ball challenge is another. That page took me to my own happy place when writing it.
What would you like your audience to know about you, as an author?
I’m a mum of four sons who has had a passion for writing for as long as I could remember. I just never did anything with it until now. It’s never too late to start to work on yourself.
List four fun facts about yourself:
- I would be more than happy to sit in a room full of puppies.
- I have rescued wildlife; from penguins and kangaroos, to magpies and wombats way back before my motherhood days.
- My favourite all-time experience was watching whales from a boat. Something I’ll never forget. Also, swimming with seals and dolphins.
- I’ve been honoured to be a part of six amazing weddings with family and friends, sharing their special day as part of their bridal parties.
As a mother of four boys, Kelly Jarris has been lucky enough to see the diversity in each child, which is how the characters came about for her first book, Wonderful Wishes. Kelly also writes and appreciates stories from life experiences, with her recently released picture book, Imagine Our Special Place. Her sister’s journey with terminal cancer inspired Kelly to write a book that touches on sibling bonds, imagination and feelings of the unknown. Kelly has a background in veterinary nursing and was once an Australian wildlife rescuer.
July 6, 2022 at 12:38AM DimbutNice