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Today I talk with Jessica Laurel Kane about her kids books. She has written several kids books with themes that help kids understand the world around them.
We had some unexpected audio problems – first there is terrible lag and then my audio disappears completely. I still thought it important to get her story out. So please, bear with us in the audio – any pauses were me talking and asking questions.
[00:00:52] Laurel: Today, I’m talking to Jessica Kane. She is the author of some children books. I apologize is this episode. [00:01:00] The audio is not good. Um, we do have a lag issue, but worse, my audio gets dropped out and I don’t know why I don’t have it to recover. And I apologize though. I do wanted to have her story out there. I wanted to get what she had to say.
[00:01:18] Known. So please give it a chance deal with the issues. And I apologize. Uh, but Jessica, uh, is here to talk about her stories and her writing. Here’s Jessica. Uh, Jessica, thank you for coming on. I appreciate it. It’s great to talk to you. It’s taken a little bit of time, uh, for us to find a good time and to explain that to everybody.
[00:01:43] Uh, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are and your background.
[00:01:49] Stephen: Um,
[00:01:49] Laurel: sure. So my name is Jessica Laurel Kane, and I am an illustrator and a writer, and I do a bunch of different [00:02:00] kinds of stuff. But for, for the sake of our talk today, I’ll tell you about my, my children’s stories. I, I have four, um, books for children, and I think my reason for writing.
[00:02:17] Books for children is to try to make the things that might be confusing to the kids, whether it’s talking about big feelings or difficult situations. I, I find that I’m really interested in trying to translate that into easy, to understand language with a little bit of something to smile about. Maybe laugh about.
[00:02:46] So that’s probably the theme of, of my books. And you have, how many kids do you have? Just the one, just one. I have one child he’s [00:03:00] eight.
[00:03:01] Stephen: Yeah. And when we started.
[00:03:10] Laurel: Friday. There’s a little bit of a lag, so I’ll wait for before I pack a minute. I’ll
[00:03:15] Stephen: I’ll try not to interrupt. That’s
[00:03:18] Laurel: okay. You can interrupt. Um, I started writing them probably when I was pregnant. I started having children’s book ideas come to me. And, um, before that I wrote stuff for adults. So, um, The first book I wrote was a collection of, of fairytales that I made up about a bunch of different sorts of things about, um, you know, a bird who swallowed a cell phone and, and he began to upset all the neighbors because his chirp from the cell phone meant something [00:04:00] extremely offensive and all the neighborhood birds.
[00:04:04] Thinking he was being really rude when really he couldn’t help it. So I guess a lot of my stories are about misunderstandings and trying to bridge understandings between characters. So that first book I wrote before my son was born
[00:04:22] Stephen: and
[00:04:22] Laurel: then once he was born and I started realizing all the interesting ways that a person gets created.
[00:04:32] Every single experience experiences kind of like a new circuit is being wired. And so I, I started realizing the importance of storytelling. If there was an upset at school, we always use stories to understand what happened. We always played the different characters and made the story even more dramatic than it was trying different ways to.[00:05:00]
[00:05:00] To perceive what had happened in a more empowering way. And then that became my next book, which was, is a collection of very, very short stories for small children called feed it to the worms and feed it to the worms is something we came up with my son and I, when you’ve got really difficult feelings and you don’t know what to do with them, we task them down to the worms and it tastes just like people.
[00:05:25] Of course people on Amazon kept thinking that it was about composting and getting confused when they got the book.
[00:05:50] Well, I’ve always written stories. I’ve been a writer my whole life, but I switched to children’s stories when I was pregnant.[00:06:00]
[00:06:09] um, no, I I’ve have, um, another. Book of stories, but for adults called straining to parallel park and an empty field, that’s a collection of true stories, little stories, um, I’ve, I’ve written plays. And one of them, I have an audio book of called two sizes, too small about a man who woke up in the morning and found that all of his shoes had shrunk to sizes.
[00:06:43] The drama comes, you know, continues from there. And, um, I have some records of songs and,
[00:06:57] um, I like both. It’s [00:07:00] interesting because we have such rules for children’s writing. Well, I don’t, but you know, society in general has rules. P parents, parents are uncomfortable talking about. Things with children like death or where parents fighting things that adults are uncomfortable about. They transfer that to the children.
[00:07:23] When really the children are fine with talking about anything. It might be difficult, but they, in my experience, they want to know the truth. They want to talk about things and they love. Cursing language to, they’d probably be the biggest fan of, of things with Afghani Greenwich. But of course that’s the main difference between writing for adults.
[00:07:45] You can use colorful as they say language and talk about different subjects, but I try to translate some of that stuff, um, to [00:08:00] children’s stories to make it, you know, palatable of course, but. To talk about the things that are uncomfortable in a way that helps children digest things instead of just push them under the rug.
[00:08:28] Well, Been an associative creator, you know, I just kind of free associate and improv and stuff like that, but definitely being a mother has, has changed everything in terms of the necessity to bridge understandings. I mean, I’m, I’m responsible in some ways for someone’s developing consciousness. So I, I felt the responsibilities as a.
[00:08:58] Uh, mother, a human being. And [00:09:00] then that has translated into how I connect with my son, which is in huge part storytelling. And then I always a must share. So if a story is, is making an impact with my son and myself, then I it’s just a natural next step for me to put it in a, uh, shareable format. So. Books, audio books, et cetera.
[00:09:35] Um, a lot, I’ve gotten a lot of really positive feedback. And then, so I’ve gotten, you know, the whole gamut. There’s been people who think that my, my books are a little strange, you know? Cause I, I don’t write, I don’t write for. Too. I don’t really have a specific target audience. I’m more, um, I have my [00:10:00] allegiances to creativity itself.
[00:10:02] So if I have an inspiration, I just write it. And if that means that it isn’t appealing to the most number of people, then that’s okay. Because my whole purpose of being an artist is to share the inspiration and then there’s others. I feel like. People who may be more aligned with my, um, perspective in life.
[00:10:28] I think they appreciate that. I’ve been true to that perspective and not try to re digest it into something that’s more marketable. So, but I’ve had, I have a book. Oh,
[00:10:46] Stephen: sorry.
[00:10:50] Laurel: Um,
[00:10:54] Sorry. I have a book called the, uh, book of hearts and it’s a book about, [00:11:00] you know, for adults and children, really, but it’s about the different kinds of personalities or ways of being or behavior you may find. And it ends with an understanding heart and I’ve had some people be angry because they wanted me to just dismiss the.
[00:11:20] The hearts that are more difficult in, in just somehow end the book with you don’t have to be around those kinds of hearts. That that’s never been my philosophy. I mean, I think all human beings are pretty corrupt and some continuum. So I, I felt like my goal was to, to, to inspire understanding. Cause I feel like.
[00:11:47] People are understood. They are less corrupt and also more likable
[00:11:59] Well, [00:12:00] marketing is never been my strong suit. So, um, when I’ve learned that you really do have to market and not only market word of mouth, but you have to put in the, um, the time and the money. To get your, your project into the public. And that’s always been challenging for me because I am really an artist more than a marketer.
[00:12:30] So I am constantly starting new projects and before I can fully, um, Market the last one. Cause I get excited about the next thing. Um, I’ve had some nice things like, and reviews was really liked my last book, the girl who was born with glue in her brain. So I got some publicity because of the nice review I got from them.[00:13:00]
[00:13:00] Um, so that was nice. But you know, when, when I spend the time getting the word out, it really does. But I have a child and we’re, I homeschool my child and I’m working on so many other projects, one after the other. So it’s difficult to find the time to talk about books that I’m kind of already bored with.
[00:13:28] I’m excited for the next one.
[00:13:43] Well, I just finished a memoir about my mother. So that’s an adult book and I’ve been working on that for a very long time. So it’s a, a series of two books. I just finished the first one. [00:14:00] And, uh, hold on one second. My son is just come here. What happened? Oh, it’s Jan. It
[00:14:08] Stephen: isn’t come here, honey. Oh, wonder what that is?
[00:14:18] No, no, no,
[00:14:19] Laurel: no. That’s not at all. What it looks like. Okay. Go, go relax. It’s okay. It looks like something. Touched you funny. Sorry. My son just has a, a rash that we didn’t eat before. No, it’s not a rash. It’s like a
[00:14:39] Stephen: remark, so it’s okay, hon.
[00:14:52] Laurel: Um, I don’t have any consistent schedule. I would say I go through spurts where I, where I [00:15:00] get very into my work and I do my work a lot. And then sometimes he’ll, my son will do other projects. Sometimes he’ll do art. Sometimes he’ll do video games or watch movies or play with his dad. When I’m doing my work.
[00:15:16] And then other times I don’t do my work at all and just, you know, do stuff with my son. And so it’s not like we have a schedule. It just kind of depends on my energy level, his energy level in what we’ve got going
[00:15:31] Stephen: on.
[00:15:39] Laurel: Well, it, it just, it’s, what’s real. And I find that with, with a child. And I, I feel like the more I push through and the more endurance I have to, to be there when I might not have the energy, it somehow makes my mind [00:16:00] stronger in terms of what ideas I’m coming up with for the material. Anyway. So I feel like I’m, everything is progressing.
[00:16:10] Um, maybe not at the same time, but I’ll zigzagging in the direction of, of, of more endurance, more understanding, more perspective. So, um, Hmm.
[00:16:32] He knows them probably by heart. He’s sitting right here. What do you think of my stuff? You don’t remember them anymore? No. Well, I’ve been working in the adult stuff of, for the past, since quarantine began. Yeah. We haven’t some, he used to know them all by heart when we used to record them and things like that.
[00:16:56] But now he’s, he hasn’t heard the adult stuff. [00:17:00] Obviously I have to wait for when he’s a grown up for that. The stuff about growing here. Oh, he just told me he’s been reading the adult stuff.
[00:17:21] Thank you for
[00:17:22] Stephen: that.
[00:17:25] Laurel: Um, I used to be such a paper person, but that was so long ago. Now I, whenever I have an idea, I just rushed to the nearest device to write it down. Sometimes it’s just an email to myself and then I’ll just edit the email right in my, my email software and then eventually transfer it to Microsoft word and then edit on this.
[00:17:49] That’s how I’m most, that’s how the most of the children’s stuff works and the adult stuff is edited for a year. So that stuff [00:18:00] starts and finishes on Microsoft word. Although I, I I’m a note taker. So if I’m driving in the car, I’ll do an audio note on my phone and then copy and paste that and string things together.
[00:18:16] Stephen: Um, well,
[00:18:19] Laurel: right now I have, um, I have two kids books and actually I have four kids books in progress and just finished the memoir about my mother. And then I’m editing the next book because it’s a two book series about my mother. And then I, um, I dunno, I’ve always had this strange. Idea of, of eventually, you know, down the road, doing something more like, um, being a speech writer, something like that, maybe like for [00:19:00] politics or something like that, or, or, or maybe doing some sort of.
[00:19:08] Speaking, I don’t know. I like to try different things and I have this funny interest in that.
[00:19:22] Well, I, I started documenting my life in journals when I was around 11. And so I have kind of an interesting, um, Series of journals that takes me through childhood and into adulthood. And it’s, it’s been very interesting to see what reality has been through each of my selves. I’ve been, so I knew it was always something I wanted to do, but because I had so many [00:20:00] notes and so many.
[00:20:01] Transcriptions of, of things that had happened and dialogues and all that. It was very Herculean in terms of how to edit it all together. And I think once my, once I had it piled and once my mother passed tragically four years ago, suddenly my perspective became stronger and more clear and more simple.
[00:20:29] And I started. Figure out a way to tie things in. And in the purpose of writing the book became more clear to show how people form, how a personality develops, how dysfunction can create perspectives that are unhealthy, that seem real and how they kind of roll through the year. And [00:21:00] then it says certain point how we have a choice to go back and retell those stories from a more empowering perspective.
[00:21:08] So that’s, what’s become my memoir. And the first one is kind of the formative years till almost 18. And then the next one’s more about into adulthood. My mother is, was a very incredible character with a lot of. Tragedy and comedy. So I tried to try to just share what it was like growing up with her.
[00:21:39] Stephen: Um,
[00:21:39] Laurel: just conceptually, just in terms of, of the importance of, uh, finding a place to stand for oneself. Deliberately discovering what it is that a person wants to stand for, regardless of [00:22:00] who everyone else around the person thinks they should stand for and really kind of finding, um, finding a place to see all the problems in life through that stand.
[00:22:19] So I think that the adult material and the children’s material is all about empowerment, turning situations into art, because it makes them more interesting and more mythological and helps, um, have a larger perspective to have compassion for oneself. And for everyone else we meet or find out.
[00:22:50] Yeah, well, I feel like I, my, my main parts of my personality are probably really heavy and really silly at the same time. [00:23:00] So I like to talk about having stuff in the context of, of making myself and others laugh, because laughter is my favorite thing to, to digest heaviness with.
[00:23:17] Yes, absolutely. I think that, I would say the most important thing is not to underestimate. What inspires you. If you have a moment of some insight that lights you up, that means that that’s important to share and document. And once you get enough of those, you can string them together, find meaning, um, and inspire yourself.
[00:23:45] You surprise yourself with what you can come up. Um, I find that if you don’t write it down right in the burst of inspiration that you can forget it. And then the [00:24:00] inspiration has gone before it even got to live. So no, that doesn’t go anywhere. That is the most important advice I would say. And then in those moments you try to do.
[00:24:13] You try to push just like any birth, you know, when a mom, I didn’t want to, when I was pregnant with my son and I was having a labor where my son was positioned on his side and it was really painful. I wanted to just go home. I said to the doctor, I was like, I, in the midwife, I said, I’m just going to go home and I’ll come back in a couple days and we can deal with this.
[00:24:38] That’s the same thing with creativity in, in some ways, you know, we have this idea and then it’s like, whoever wants to do anything, never expect that you’re going to want to follow through and push something out. So more often than not, you’ve got to sit at the table and you’ve got to just write, you’ve got to flesh out those bursts of input, inspiration that doesn’t go on [00:25:00] over there.
[00:25:02] So, um, the more. Write down those bursts of information. Those are our little pushes for you. And the more little pushes you get, the more you’re helping your future stuff. You’ll have a bunch of stuff to work with in the delivery room.
[00:25:25] Stephen: Um,
[00:25:27] Laurel: My first book is the butterfly who is afraid to fly and other stories, and then feed it to the worms.
[00:25:36] A collection of very short stories for small children, a book of hearts and the girl who was born with glue in her brain.
[00:25:50] Stephen: Thank you.
[00:25:54] Laurel: Um, my website for children is, um, Jessica Laurel cain.com, [00:26:00] J E S S I C a L a U R E L K a N e.com. And then my adult website is jessica.com. I appreciate that. Thank you so much. And think, thank you for being so patient. Um, with me finding a time to get together.