New Author- Katie Saunders!
Katie Saunders is our newest author to join Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency. A talented illustrator, Katie also loves writing for children. Her books are written with humour and from the heart – and we are very excited to have her onboard. We wanted to get some insights into her working process and inspirations behind her writing and illustrating.
1. How long have you been working on children’s books, as an illustrator, and as an author?
I have been an illustrator for twenty years, and writing for about eight.
2. What inspired you to start writing your own children’s books?
When I had my children, I found that they constantly made me laugh. I knew I had to write and illustrate a book about them, simply for them to have when they were older. I think once you have the bravery to write your first book, you just keep going.
3. Do any of the stories you write come from your own experiences and memories of your childhood?
Yes, I try to think back to things that I found funny as a child. I use pets I’ve had over the years as inspiration for characters – and also people I have met. Funny teachers or children I have come across.
My dad was really creative and my mum read to me every night. I still remember how much I loved being read to and how I would imagine the characters and places in the books before falling asleep. The Faraway Tree books were some of my favorites.
4. Do your own children influence how you write? How do they inspire you?
The first book I wrote, Olive Marshmallow, was about my son Archie and his experiences when his sister Olive was born. Now, as they get older, I have more interest in older fiction. My writing seems to follow my children and what stage their reading is at.
5. How do you make sure your stories are relatable to children? How do you get in the mindset of a child?
I think I’ve never really grown up, so I definitely think like a child! I also find having a child’s sense of humour and writing from the heart definitely helps.
6. Are there any overlapping skills have you noticed between illustrating and writing children’s books?
I see the characters in my head. I know how they will look before a story is even written. I can make the text fill the page in a creative way too. Obviously, as an illustrator you are used to deadlines and time management – skills you definitely need when writing.
7. Do you illustrate your own stories? Do you take a different approach to illustrating your stories versus illustrating stories someone else has written?
With my own books, I always start with a main character – and I will draw them before I even write the story. For me, getting that character right is everything. When I’m illustrating, I have to be mindful that the author has their own ideas about the characters, so I will work closely with them and their vision. I worry much more when working on other people’s books because I just want to create what the author imagined. On my own I only have to please myself!
8. What do you enjoy most about being a children’s book author?
That anything is possible! You can have the craziest, silly idea and turn it into something different, something magical. I love ideas that are a bit wacky. I also enjoy laughing to myself most days!
9. Are there any books that influence your writing?
I think when my children started bringing home David Walliams books, it made me realise that I could be really silly in my writing and use humor more. I grew up with Roald Dahl and Enid Blyton and I just loved that magic. I also was greatly influenced by Lauren Child’s Charlie and Lola books. They made me see how the illustrations can involve the text more, making things interesting.
10. Tell us about your writing routine. Where and when and how do you like to write?
I will always draw a character first, then quick sketches of each page – very roughly. I work page by page, normally drawing each page and writing at the same time. Sometimes I have no idea how it will end or what’s next. You will find me with a massive cup of coffee most days, in my little office at the bottom of my garden. I normally have my two dogs sleeping under my desk.
11. Are there any exciting projects you’re working on at the moment?
I have been really busy working on the Diary Of The Accidental Witch books. I have almost finished illustrating the fifth book, so that’s taken up quite a bit of my time. As they are drawing to an end, I hope to get cracking on some of my own ideas. I have a book idea featuring a sausage dog who wants to be on Strictly Come Dancing (but his legs are too short). It’s funny and silly but it’s also about believing in yourself and fulfilling your dreams, no matter what is thrown in your path. I’ve also got some ideas for a range of books to help young children understand how we are all different; from having to wear glasses, to having two mums. And finally, I have an older fiction idea – in the very early stages, called Darcy Denver The Pet Defender. Darcy is a pet defending super hero, who helps animals in need. From stolen puppies to teaching a monkey sign language, she’s every animal’s hero!
Caroline Wakeman Literary Agency focuses on picture and early chapter books. Based in London and New York City, we have a team of literary agents specializing in children’s books and young fiction. Our goal is to create engaging stories for young readers.