Part 2: Q&A with Little People, BIG DREAMS author, Isabel Sanchez Vegara
Recently, I shared a blog post on the book series Little People, BIG DREAMS. I was so excited about these books that I decided to reach out to the author, Isabel Sanchez Vegara. The greatest thing happened: I had the honor and privilege to interview Isabel and get the inside scoop into the mind of a writer on a mission to ruffle up worldwide norms on the feminine and masculine roles. Here is part 2 of Little People, Big Dreams interview.
Check out another list of my favorite books that help kids learn about their emotions and feed their dreams. Any of these are great gift ideas for the avid learner or to empower a child to be proud of what makes them unique. Here’s my interview with her and make sure to post a comment if you have any questions or insights on the books!
What influences or experiences have you had in your life that have led you in this direction to become a successful female author?
Isabel: I think working as a creative director in advertising for almost 20 years helped me a lot to build the concept for the series, choose the right illustrator for each character and count on a great art director and friend to make the books look just as beautiful as they were in my mind. Plus, I always loved reading! And that’s a must. When I was six, after my parents had turned off the light in my room at night, I’d keep reading stories under the sheets with my flashlight until my eyes would hurt. My mother says that’s why I use glasses now. But it’s also how I started dreaming of being a writer one day.
For the aspiring young writers: What lessons have you learned in the process? Were there any challenges along the way that you did not expect and how did you navigate through them?
Isabel: Writing a book is one thing, getting published is a different story. But they both depend on you and many writers quit trying as soon as a publisher says no. Ten years ago, after knocking on the doors of dozens of publishing houses and realizing that no one was interested in my work, I decided to publish my first book on my own. I still remember the day I got 1,000 copies of that book delivered into my little flat. For a couple of weeks, I thought I had just blown my savings in the most insane way, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life.
Is there any other advice you would give to aspiring writers?
Isabel: Just one: Make sure you have something relevant to say and find a unique way to say it.
If you could tell your younger writer-self anything, what would it be?
Isabel: Yes, Isabelita, ’Author’ is a big word, but in the end, it is only six letters. So, have fun; find time for the people you love and enjoy the ride.
One of the things I love about the series is the ease in which you talk about the protagonists’ hardships. Many adults tend to shy away from talking about death or poverty with kids, thinking that this will scare them. How did you decide to include this in your books?
Isabel: I try to follow a basic rule: Whatever it is that you want to write about, keep it simple and don’t make drama. Children are not scared of things they understand.
Will you be publishing the books in Spanish and in other languages?
Isabel: Originally, the books were written in Spanish, but English was the first language to which they were translated. Now, I write them in both languages simultaneously and they’re being translated to more than 15 other languages – from French, Italian, Portuguese, Norwegian, or Danish to Hebrew, Japanese or Ukrainian.
What has been the overall reception of the books? Does it differ by culture or country?
Isabel: Every time I check my Instagram, I find a beautiful message, picture, or even a video from kids and mums from all over the world. As an author, that’s the greatest motivation you can get. But the enthusiasm from a girl in Malawi is exactly the same as from a little boy in Oxford. I have the world’s cutest and sweetest readers and I feel like the luckiest writer ever.
Reading books opens our eyes to the possibility to live a different life and to feel emotions hidden from us at times. Have you received any feedback about your books starting the conversations about gender or racial inequality between parents and their children?
Isabel: Yes, I have. I think the books have become a perfect excuse to bring up to conversation subjects that sometimes are hard to tackle with kids. Racial and gender inequality are just two of them but there are many more like physical disability or gender identity, for example. I believe every book gives kids a chance to discover, understand, respect, and admire what makes us all different, instead of what makes us alike. A chance to love diversity and the uniqueness within every single human being, starting with our own. And to me, that’s the best part of it all.
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