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Today I interviewed Kelly Xiong, author of Baron The Brave, a children’s adventure book! Kelly is a mom to five and still was able to write this book, which is something she was aspiring to do for many years.
In this inspirational interview with Kelly, you will learn how she finds the time to write despite being a parent, how writing a children’s book differs from other genres, Kelly’s writing tips and much more! ✨
Tell us your story. What inspired you to become an author?
I’ve always loved reading, writing, and painting since early childhood. I love creating things and writing allows me to express my overactive imagination and share it with others. I especially have a soft spot for kids and love to create stories for them to enjoy. I am blessed to have my children that inspire me through their creativity and ideas. They are the source of my motivation and push me to new heights daily.
When I was in High School, my Spanish Teacher assigned each of the students to write a picture book. My Spanish Teacher assigned each of the students to write a picture book.
I wrote a book called, Donde Esta Piggy? (Where is Piggy?). It was about a missing pig who was eventually found sleeping in the dog house. The teacher loved the book so much that she shared it with the class. From that day it sparked a desire to create stories for people to enjoy. ❤️
Tell us more about Baron The Brave, and what it is about.
Baron the Brave is the protagonist and hero of the story. He is the knight in shining armor tasked with saving the princess. In the beginning, we are introduced to Princess Sweetie Pie. She lives in the Land of Bread and Honey. She soon becomes sick from eating too many sweets.
Mister Wiseman tells the King that the only cure is a special vegetable called, broccoli. But, broccoli is found only in The Land of Vegetables and Roots and guarded by Big Meany Rabbit. Baron the Brave is the only boy brave enough to face the challenge.
On his way, Baron meets Grumpy the Dog, Tricky the Bird, and Meany the Rabbit. They are the three antagonists in the story. Baron must overcome them to retrieve the special vegetable and cure the princess.
Tell us more about the process behind writing your book.
I’ve had the idea for Baron the Brave for many years. Honestly, I don’t remember how it came about. The idea just sort of came into my mind at the time. The year was 2017. I was moving out of state. My husband and I decided we were going to live off-grid in the mountains.
Off-grid life was pretty challenging and I was occupied with raising my little ones, so unfortunately the idea was stored away and forgotten about. It wasn’t until recently that the idea resurfaced in my mind and I knew I had to write it down. That night I couldn’t go to bed and had written the whole story by morning!
As for inspiration, I have always been fascinated by stories that teach children valuable lessons. Books like The Rainbow Fish, The Giving Tree, The Little Red Hen, and The Three Little Pigs were among my favorites as a child.
How did writing a children’s book differ from other types of genres?
Children’s books, particularly picture books are usually 500 words or less. I always imagine the illustrations in my mind, such as how the characters and setting will look. This helps me to avoid using too many words when I write.
When I write a children’s story, I try to see the world through the eyes of a child. A child’s view of the world is filled with wonder and simple pleasures. The philosophy of less is more definitely applies when writing Children’s Picture Books.
I remember in High School my English Teacher had me write a story. I wrote the story and felt it wasn’t long enough. So I decided to write more because I thought it would make my paper look better. When the teacher was done grading the paper, she handed it back to me. I will forever remember what she wrote, “quality over quantity.” And those words stuck with me ever since.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
I’m a very observant person.
I like to look at my surroundings for inspiration and ideas. Looking at everyday trials and triumphs in life makes me think about conflicts and solutions. I like to observe people and animals. Especially my kids and pets! This is how I develop characters for my story.
I think having children comes in handy when writing a children’s book. My children are my little helpers. They let me know if they like or dislike a character and whether the story works or not.
What was the most challenging thing about writing this book?
Finding time to write! Being a mom to five kids can be hard to find and manage time.
I find early mornings and late nights the best time to write. Although I already published my book, I know I will be faced with many more challenges ahead. I think that’s just the reality of life. We will always have challenges as long as we’re alive.
But, I think challenges are good for us. It builds resilience and makes us better and stronger.
How much research did you need to do for your book?
A lot! I did a lot of research. Since I did everything myself I had a lot to learn. Most of my time was spent researching how to format and market my book.
I also have a tendency to be a perfectionist. I tend to over analyze and overdo things, which sometimes can hinder me.
What kind of message would you like to share with this book?
I love to share positivity and sunshine. I hope that when children read my book, they are transported to another world. A world filled with adventure and wonder. I want children to know how brave and resilient they are. And to encourage them to eat a healthy and well-balanced diet. ✨
Tell us more about the publishing process behind the book.
I was on a limited budget and did everything myself except for editing. I’m very grateful to all the amazing editors who collaborated with me.
It took a lot of time to illustrate and format the book, and I am still learning the ropes of marketing. I know I’ll get there someday.
I’m learning new skills every day and I love it! So far I’ve contacted a few bloggers and YouTubers. I would absolutely love the opportunity to do a podcast interview. I think it’d be a lot of fun.
What are some tools you used to write this book from start to end?
I used a good old-fashioned pen and paper for taking notes.
For the rough and final draft, I used Microsoft Word.
What kind of books have inspired you?
The best-selling book of all time, The Bible. It is beautifully written and is like a multifaceted gem. The Bible is simple, yet complex and filled with poetry, rhythm, and repetition. My writing style and some ideas are influenced by this beautiful book.
What advice would you give to a writer just starting out?
Read more. Write more. Don’t give up and don’t be afraid to make mistakes or fail. Be optimistic, determined, and diligent. I love the proverb, “Where there is a will, there is a way.” Remind yourself to rest and recharge.
What are your future plans and where can our readers find you?
I’m planning on writing a sequel for the book and plan to upload a read-aloud to YouTube soon. I already created one plush toy, but I hope to mass-produce plush toys and sell them alongside my book one day. I really feel like the sky is the limit.
I dream big and plan to turn my book into an animation someday. I think it would be so cool!
I’ll be promoting and selling my book at the farmers market next year. And I can’t wait for the opportunity to do book signings and read-aloud in libraries. I plan to create an official website soon.
But, for now you can follow me on Facebook.
Have you enjoyed this Q&A with Kelly? Let me know in the comments below! ❤️