The good news is, author Leah Moser spoke at my school about her debut picture book, I AM A THUNDERCLOUD (Running Press Kids, April 2024)! The not so good news is that her assemblies were planned during my art classes, so I only got to hear about 10 minutes of her presentation as I dropped students off. The good news is, I caught up with her afterwards to learn more:

Me: Congratulations on your powerful debut! It literally starts with a BOOM! And then takes us through a storm of feelings before helping us find our way out. What inspired you to write this book?

Leah: I wrote the first draft of I AM A THUNDERCLOUD in 2020 when I had A LOT of my own emotions. Of all the strong feelings, anger can be challenging for children to manage and work through. I wanted to write a book connecting children to their own booms, roars, crashes, and crackles while providing strategies to calm the internal storms.

 

Me: How did you get into creating books for kids?

Leah: As a child, I enjoyed writing and creating my own stories. After taking a Children’s Literature course at George Washington University for my Masters in Elementary Education, I began taking this passion seriously. I joined SCBWI, connected with multiple critique partners, started attending conferences, and realized that I wanted to pursue a path in writing picture books.

Me: As I saw in your presentation, you (like all of us kidlit creators) have to face lots of criticism and rejection. How do you deal with the storm clouds that is such a part of our profession?

Leah: You hear NO so often on the road to publication. As you saw in my presentation, I had my color-coded spreadsheet filled with rejections or non-responses.

Sometimes it’s easier said than done, but I try to focus on the positives – a maybe, a no with strong feedback, a not-right-now-but-we-loved-it response. Additionally, I continue to work on new stories or revise older ones so I’m not just sitting around, waiting for an email to come through. I also take short breaks to reset – like cleaning my house, playing tennis, walking with my children and dog, or getting a coffee with writing friends.

Criticism can be hard to hear. I’ve learned to accept all feedback, then go through my notes later and decide what elevates my manuscript and what doesn’t. You are the author of your work. But I’m fortunate to have excellent writing partners and an editorial agent who provides strong, helpful critiques of my work.

 

Me: The stunning illustrations by Marie Hermansson really bring the moods and feelings to life. What did you feel when you saw them? What kind of collaboration did you have with her (if any, knowing authors and illustrators are usually kept apart)?

Leah: Marie Hermansson did such a fabulous job on this story. As a writer, I had no art notes at all on this manuscript. To be honest, I wasn’t sure what I was even envisioning when writing the words. Since the whole book is a metaphor, I was hoping for something whimsical and colorful with metaphors throughout. Marie knocked it out of the park!

Children connect with the character, the colors are vibrant and beautiful, and the emotion on each page is powerful. During the process, Marie and I didn’t speak directly but only through our publisher and agents. However, we often correspond now as this has truly turned into “our book.” Soon, we have joint school and bookstore visit in Raleigh, North Carolina. Since I’m located in the DC area, I thought we were just too close to not meet in person at least once!

Me: Can you share what you’re working on next?

Leah: I’m working on many projects at once. A few stories are on submission (fingers crossed!) I’m revising several manuscripts in different stages of readiness – a few SEL stories similar to I am a Thundercloud and a humorous one. I’ve been editing other authors’ manuscripts, both in my critique group and through my paid editing services (https://www.leahmoserwrites.com/editing-services). I’ve been traveling around the DC area reading at bookstores and presenting at schools. And in the Moser household, spring sports and end-of-school wrap up is in full force!

Me: Thank you so much, Leah! Wishing your book much success!

To learn more, please visit Leah Moser Writes | author

 

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)