Emma Yarlett is an author and illustrator based in Cornwall in the UK. She loves to paint, draw, scribble, collage, design, write, doodle, construct, invent, imagine, splatter and sketch, and particularly loves illustrating children’s books. Her second picture book ‘Orion and the Dark’ will be published in the fall of 2014.
For what age audience do you write?
I generally write for the older end of the picture book market (around ages 4-7), as I really love to add interesting detail and sub plots into my books. I enjoy writing all types of genres, but seem to always lean towards magical and whimsical adventures – taking a common theme or item, and giving the storyline a twist.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is my second authored and illustrated picture book, it’s called ‘Orion and the Dar’k, and will be published by Candlewick Press towards the end of 2014. I’ve just received my advanced copies of the finished book, and am so excited about it! It’s about a little boy called Orion who is scared of an awful lot of things, but one thing scare him more than anything else… The dark! One night he gets so fed up, he has an outburst of anger, resulting in a rather mysterious dark figure popping in for an adventure.
Henry: Orion is also a constellation. Hmmm… ☺
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I wrote this book as a way to help children combat their fear of the dark – but I also wrote it as a compelling and magical adventure for children to go on, and hopefully read over and over again.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
The concept of less is more! I often have to really cut down and simplify what I have written as I lean towards adding a lot of narrative detail – which when combined with the visuals is needlessly surplus.
Henry: And superfluously gratuitous.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
Imagine, imagine, imagine! It’s so important to sit and think and let your mind float around in the unreal and the extraordinary!
Henry: How do you feel about recreational use of hallucinogens?
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I was recently longlisted for the Carnegie Kate Greenaway medal, and I must say it was such an incredible mind blowing moment.
Henry: Very nice.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
It’s really important to seek opinions from both people you trust and admire, but also industry insiders who really know what they’re talking about. It can truly make your work so much better once your ideas have been bounced around other people’s brains too!
Henry: So true. I find critique groups invaluable.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“Everything you can imagine is real” by Pablo Picasso. I love this quote so much, the book I’ve just begun writing is based on it!
Henry: Spoiler alert!
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
Not particularly, I tend to look a little bit bonkers though, as I will scribble tiny narratives endlessly on reams and reams of paper in the smallest handwriting you have ever seen!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Flying! Since I was a child I have always had wonderful nighttime dreams of flying, and it would be so incredible to actually do it!
Henry: Flying is the most popular answer to that question.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Roald Dahl – he is such a wonderfully quirky and creative man, and his stories are so timeless. I imagine he would be an absolutely charming dinner guest!
C.S.Lewis – I am a massive fan of the Narnia series, and it would be so interesting to quiz him on all the in’s and out’s of his wonderful mind and his wonderful books.
Suzanne Collins – Another series of books that I love to read are the Hunger Games… They are such a force of the imagination, and I would love to know more about how her books came to fruition and where her ideas appeared from or are based on!
Henry: That sounds like a great ensemble, as long as Suzanne doesn’t take all the food…
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
I love Greek Mythology, and I also love horses, so for me it would have to be Pegasus. That way I could achieve my dream of flying for sure!
Henry: Well played, sir.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
My husband is a youth worker and the director of a youth charity, and so I love to help him out! I also really enjoy sport, reading, baking, and seeing my wonderful friends and family.
Where can readers find your work?
In all the best bookstores, all the best online retailers and on my website (emmayarlett.com), blog, Twitter, and Facebook page!
This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.