It’s a Happy HAPPY Book Birthday to Linda Joy Singleton’s SUN AND SON
(Illus. Richard Smythe / Amicus) TODAY!
What a sweet book!
In SUN AND SON, the companion book to CRANE AND CRANE, Linda Joy Singleton uses homonym pairs to tell two parallel stories between the human world and the natural world: While a father nurtures a son during a birthday camping trip, the sun nurtures our planet.
7 Questions for Linda Joy:
Q 1. Congrats on the Book Birthday of SUN AND SON, your sweet sequel to CRANE AND CRANE. I LOVE that with very few words, the homonym pairs you chose tell such a lovely story. For this question, let’s have some more fun with homonyms.
Which (of any of these) would you choose for a book about your picture book writing process:
a. (just) WRITE or (get it) RIGHT?
b. PEN (vs computer) or PEN (corralling your thoughts)
c. JOURNAL or JOURNEY? (I cheated a bit here.)
Linda Joy: I would say a: (just) WRITE or (get it) RIGHT.
I have known since I was a child that writing was right for me. No one told me to write, I just did it as if stories and characters inside me were eager to play. I wrote at home and school, filling notebooks with stories that I’d start, get bored with, and then put aside. Later, though, when I was in my 20’s, I seriously pursed a writing career, and quickly learned that it takes lots of rewriting to get the words just right.
Q 2. What surprises did your illustrator, Richard Smythe, bring to the book?
Linda Joy: Richard is amazing! He took my spare words and brought them to life with beautiful art. In both CRANE & CRANE and SUN & SON he included subtle details that tell layers of story. If you read the book through a few times, you’ll notice these layers. And it was a nice surprise for me when he included a cat in the story because he knows I love cats.
Q 3. Writing a book with so few words like this is NOT easy! This sounds crazy, but were there any words—or pairs of words–that you had to cut or revise?
Linda Joy: Two of the words/scenes were changed from the manuscript I submitted to my editor.
“Set” where they set up a tent while the sun “sets” was actually supposed to be two dramatic scenes with the word “burn”—a sunburn for the child and fire fighters putting out of forest fire. Also, the ending was going to be different. Art was nearly completed when this decision was made to change the ending.
Linda Joy: Originally the word “spin” was going to show the world spinning around with a final scene of a new family on the other side of the world starting a day under the sun with their son. Instead, my editor at Amicus Books wisely wanted to have a warm fuzzy ending continuing the story with the same characters, so instead of “spin” the word “beam” showed a happy ending with one last word reflecting the love between a parent and child.
Tips for #kidlit Creators
Q 4. I’m a fan of the wonderful interviews you post as a reporter-at-large for the Cynsations blog. What kernels of wisdom have you learned from interviewing fellow #kidlit creators?
Linda Joy: My most recent interviews were with the talented authors Danna Smith and Lynne Marie, both of whom have inspired and critiqued my work. I’ve learned so much about poetry, rhyme, and pictures books from them. And their picture books are wonderful.
Look for her Book Birthday interview about ONE BLUE GNU and WAKE-UP FREIGHT TRAIN (Releasing 3/29) on the blog here March 22nd.
55 Linda Joy Singleton books and more to come!
Q. 5. What would you say to pre-published Linda Joy, now that you have 55+ titles out in the world?
Linda Joy: When I first started writing, I was desperate to publish—anything and everything! I was passionately in love with each book I wrote and thought it was ready to submit right away. But when I joined critique groups, I quickly learned that my books needed lots of rewriting. Some manuscripts had to be put aside. There was so much I had to learn, which took time, experiences, rejections, and more rewriting. I began to understand what “learning my craft” meant. Craft is more than just the words on a page—it’s the rhythm of your words, important details, and layers of plot + characters. If I had rushed to publication when I first started writing, I would have missed out on so many lessons. And I’m still learning….
Q. 6. They say most books are a tiny bit autobiographical. Of ALL of your books, which is the most autobiographical?
Linda Joy: Most of my books have pieces of my life and personality. The main character, Kelsey, in the CURIOUS CAT SPY CLUB (6 books/Albert Whitman) is a lot like me.
She has a club similar to I did when I was a kid and loves solving mysteries to help animals. When Kelsey wishes for a cat of her own, that’s totally me. I used to listen near my window, hoping to hear the plaintive cry of a kitten in need of rescue. In the third book in the CCSC series, KELSEY THE SPY, I use a memory from my childhood of going to a small zoo where I was fascinated to learn tortoises could live for over 150 years. And when Kelsey finds a mystery in a castle in the SECRET OF THE SHADOW BANDIT, I used my love for series books like Nancy Drew to include many series-book tropes like finding jewels, a castle, missing heir, mysterious shadow, hidden money, and being captured and tossed into a dungeon. One of my favorite books!
Q. 7. What projects are you working on currently?
Linda Joy: I finished edits on a middle-grade mystery for my agent, which she’ll be sending out soon. And she’s submitted a non-fiction picture book. I’m working on a 3rd book to follow up SUN & SON and CRANE & CRANE—hoping my editor loves it. Fingers crossed.
P S –Thank you for this interview, Erin!!
Thank YOU for joining us today, Linda Joy!
To learn more about Linda Joy Singleton’s books, follow her on Twitter: @LindaJoySinglet
And Instagram: lindajoysingleton
Heads-up teachers and librarians: There are downloadable activities for both SUN AND SON
& CRANE AND CRANE at