Friday, June 5, 2009

BOUNDING FOR BOOKS: A Talent for Quiet

My guest today is Kim Chatel author of the award winning Rainbow Sheep. She is here to tell us aboot her new book A Talent for Quiet.

Shari: “A Talent for Quiet” is a wonderful book about photography and also about getting to know a stepfather. What prompted you to write it?

Thanks Shari. I'm a step-mom and for years the many stories and movies about evil step-parents have made me uncomfortable. I always thought that I had a good relationship with my stepsons, but if you look at the data in literature, no such thing seems to exist. I wanted to write a story about a good step-parent or at least the potential for a good relationship between step-parent and child.
I photographed my stepsons along the Yamaska River in Quebec many times when we lived there, years ago. I also spent hours stalking wildlife with my camera in those waters. Perhaps the two got stuck in my thoughts. Often, that's how stories form in my head. I put together two or three ideas to form one plot. Bits of characters come together. They find a setting in my memory and then…whoosh. A story.

Shari: Your photography is wonderful and just perfect for this story. Which is your first love, writing or taking pictures?

Kim: Definitely writing. I could live without taking another picture, but I'd start to hyperventilate if you told me I could never write again.

I've always written. One of my earliest poems is posted on my blog ( But I didn't start taking it seriously until seven years ago. We moved from Canada to the US and I didn't have a work permit. I knew it would take five years to get my green card, so I thought, now is the time to make it happen. If I'm going to be an author, I need to have a book in print at the end of those five years. Now, I have three children's books and three adult books in print as well as stories in several anthologies.

When we lived in Canada, I worked in the photography industry. I owned a camera store for a short while, but I always worked with cameras. That's how I met my husband and photography will always be a cherished hobby, like fiber art, but literature is my first passion. I just feel lucky that I have had the opportunity to work with Guardian Angel and blend my love for art and literature.

Shari: Who did you use as subjects for the pictures?

Many of the images of animals are so old they were actually taken with film (instead of digital). I took them over ten years ago. Life along the river fascinated me. When I laid out the pictures along with the story, I knew there were many gaps. Since the story is about a little girl and her step-dad, I thought, "Hmm. Do I know any pretty little girls and hunky guys who might pose for me? Why yes I do!" Reanie and Bill in the story are played by my daughter, Genna, and husband, Louis. Buffy the dog tagged along because she comes everywhere with us. It was quite a fun day. In the story, Reanie is a shy, quiet girl—not at all like Genna. Louis had a great time making her giggle every time I took a shot. Thankfully, I now shoot digital, otherwise I would have run out of film!

Shari: How many pictures did you take for this book? Was it hard to choose which ones to use?

Kim: Many of the original pictures I took along the river didn't make it into the book simply because I didn't have room. I also borrowed my neighbor's old blue pick up truck to take the place of the one in the book (I was probably looking out the window at this truck when I wrote the story), but most of those images didn't make it. I wanted to have room for the nonfiction pages at the end of the book so I had to make some tough choices. I could have added more wildlife pictures and taken out a couple of the images of 'Bill' and 'Reanie' but I felt that children would connect with these more.

Shari: I think the glossary and photography tips at the back will be appreciated by parents and children alike. Was that your plan from the start?

Kim: Yes. The nonfiction pages at the back of "Rainbow Sheep" were very well received by parents and reviewers. Since "A Talent for Quiet" is about photography (Bill actually teaches Reanie about cameras in the story), it just seemed natural to add the nonfiction pages. During my time in retail sales, I taught many neophytes the basics of cameras. Many people don't realize there are several simple ways to improve their pictures, even with 'automatic' cameras.

Also, as I wrote the story, I could see the potential for school and library visits. Adding the nonfiction pages gave me a launching pad for a mini-photography workshop. I've already done one at a local library, and I have three more booked for this summer. Writing can be a lonely business, but my children's books have given me wonderful opportunities to be part of and to help my community.

Thanks for having me on your blog today!

Reading level: Ages 6-12
Paperback: 32 pages
Publisher: Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc (February 5, 2009)
ISBN-10: 1935137565
ISBN-13: 978-1935137566

Reanie is a shy girl. She has a new step dad whose shoulders seem to fill their small house. Afraid to disappoint him, she retreats to her room whenever Bill asks her to play. But when he invites her on a photo safari in the creek, Reanie can’t resist. As father and daughter splash through the water, they encounter many creatures. Bill teaches Reanie how to handle a camera, and her new step-dad doesn’t seem so strange anymore.
Illustrated with Kim Chatel’s photography, this is more than a story. It is a journey with Reanie as she finds her voice and her artistic talent. The back of the book includes 4 nonfiction pages about photography: a glossary of terms, tips on taking better pictures and historical tidbits about photography.
Monday 6/8/09 learn more about Kim and her book at Joy Delgado's website.
Leave a comment to be eligible for my drawing at the end of the tour. I will give away an autographed softcover copy of my book Nothing Stops Noah. ;) Shari
For more about Shari Lyle-Soffe go to Jennifer Gladen's website today.


Joy said...

Great interview Kim and Shari. Kim, I love your cat poem and the way you tie together your talents.

Joy Delgado
Illustrator and publisher of bilingual children’s books

Kim Chatel said...

Thanks for hosting me today, Shari!

Donna J. Shepherd said...

A Talent for Quiet is a great book. Very informative, too. I learned some new things!

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Donna and Joy

It is a wonderful, informative book with a gentle story to accompany the terrific photos.


Mayra Calvani said...

Great interview! It's interesting to find out more about you and I think you've accomplished a lot if 7 years!

Margot Finke said...

Kim, I love gentle stories, and using photography to highlight the theme sets it apart from the crowd.
Lovely, mate!!

Shari dug deep Kim, and did you proud. Hugs to both of you.
BUY any Autographed Book from my website, and
receive a FREE LINK to me READING that story!

Jennifer Gladen said...

Great interview! I learned so much about you Kim. I have to say I enjoyed your book as well. I love the interaction between the characters and the information about photography.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for a great interview. The way you considered and integrated photography and a step parent relationship was so smart. I try to give myself several different marketing opportunities with every book.
J. Aday Kennedy
The Differently-Abled Children's Author