Today dear readers you are in for a treat. The fabulous Rene Colato Lainez has stopped by Write On as part of his blog tour promoting his latest book From North to South. Mr.Colato Lainez is a father, teacher and master storyteller. For anyone writing picture books he is definitely an author you can study and learn from. So without anymore rambling from me, here we go.
1) What book had the most impact on you as a child?
When I was a child in El Salvador, I dreamed with adventures. I always was the captain searching for new places. In third grade, I discovered the amazing book Don Quijote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. Don Quixote was my favorite book, because the main character was like me, someone looking for adventures.
2) Having also been an elementary teacher, I know the demands on your time are great. How do you fit writing into your daily life?
I write at night from 8 to 10 pm. Two hours of writing in my ideal goal but it is not always happened. At the beginning of the school year, there is a lot of paper work. Things get better by the second month of the school year. But I love being a teacher. Many of the inspirations for my books come from my students. They are like a treasure chest.
3) How do you balance serious topics like immigration and deportation yet still keep the perspective simple enough for children?
When I am writing a manuscript, I always become the child. I act and think like a child. I formulate many questions that my main character may ask. I always write with the child in mind. Writing a book it is like talking with my students. I use their language and vocabulary. You can write about any topic in a picture book but the child is always the heart. Jose wants to be with his mother just like any other child. His mother is in another country and he is eager to go to visit her even if he has to travel From North to South.
4) In From North to South, Jose is separated from his mother while she is waiting for her official papers. How long does this type of separation usually last?
This is a hard question, because every immigration case is different. Sometimes families wait for a year or less. Other times, it may be years of waiting. In the case of Jose, his father is already a permanent resident and he already submitted the paper work for his wife. This means that the final reunion is coming soon. But with immigration “soon” is very hard to define.
From North to South is a book full of hope. These kids waiting for their parents are now tiny seeds. But those seeds will grow and one day they will be big beautiful flowers. This day is when they will be together with their parents again.
5) How many revisions do you usually run through before you feel as if your story is complete?
From North to South just needed a few revisions. I worked together with my amazing literary agent Stefanie Von Borstel until the story was ready for publication. The writing part of the story was easy. From writing the first manuscript to receiving a contract was a six-month period. The thinking of the story was longer. But that’s the way I work. I always recreate my stories in mind and until I have a solid idea, I am able to start writing.
6) What do your students think of Mr. Colato Lainez the author?
I have been “the teacher full of stories” for many years at my school. This was before I had a book contract. I always wrote stories for my students and bound them into books. These books were read in many classrooms around the school and it was amazing when students recognized me as the writer. Now that I am a published author, they still called me “the teacher full of stories” and after my seventh book, From North to South, I have a new name “The teacher full of books.”
Thank you so much Mr. Colato Lainez. I really enjoyed interviewing you and can't wait to see what other stories you will be inspired to write. Until next time.