Obviously, my kids and I love to read. We love discovering new authors and enjoy reading different types of books. Jessica Laurel Kane is not just an author- she's a wife and mother and has worked as a stop-motion animator, a make-up artist on Broadway and a sculptor. She is the recipient of a 2018 LARAC Artist grant and lives in Upstate New York with her husband, Chris and son, Brautigan.
Jessica's books are different from anything we've read before. Two of them consist of short stories and she uses paper to create her illustrations.
A Book of Hearts was written to encourage empathy for different kinds of people. Inside this book are a golden heart, a wild heart, an angry heart, a sensitive heart, a busy heart, a jealous heart, a brave heart and more. The book ends with an understanding heart, because: "...an understanding heart tries to remember to make room for every kind of heart, because it has discovered that every kind of heart grows bigger when it feels understood."
Feed it to the Worms is an adorable book that contains 57 short illustrated stories. The stories were originally told by Jessica to her son on drives to and from school. They’re about whatever happened to be on their minds: silly things, confusing things, things that were funny, sad, or upsetting.
The Butterfly Who Was Afraid to Fly contains eight original fables and poems. Wyatt especially liked the one about the bird who swallowed a cell phone.
Jessica Laurel Kane has always been a writer, but it wasn't until she became pregnant with her son in 2011 that she started having ideas for children's stories. All her previous writing had been adult non-fiction.
An interview with Jessica:
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was 5.
Where do you get your ideas?
My imagination and experiences. In 2016, after the unexpected deaths of both my husband Chris's mother and my own, Brautigan (my son) and I started sharing stories, especially during our long commute to school each morning.
Brautigan would make up a word and ask for a story about it, he would ask for a story about something he'd been thinking about at school or he'd pose a question such as "what if we put a different word on a stop sign?" The stories were sometimes silly, but often times it was him wanting to kind of talk about difficult things that he didn’t quite understand, why people were mean or why people died, in a way that could be not so heavy.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I enjoy illustrating and spending time with my family.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
That I could do it all myself. After I wrote and illustrated my book, the next step was finding a children’s book publisher, but I was rejected many times. When I finally found an editor who was interested, by the time she was done with her ideas, I just didn’t like the story at all anymore.
After my mom passed away, I embraced the self-publishing route. I'm so glad I did- I've gotten a lot of positive feedback from the parents of kids who love listening to the stories in the car. They also tell me that the stories have been helpful with issues of anxiety.
How many books have you written?
4 children's books, 2 adult books, 1 play, and I also write songs.
Do you have any suggestions for writers?
Believe in the little ideas that come to you. Write them down quickly before the doubt replaces them.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer, performer or artist.
What is some advice you would give your younger self?
There is no time for doubt - keep creating and believing in yourself.
Tell us something interesting or surprising about yourself that many people don’t know.
I wanted to use use non-toxic materials for my illustrations - and paper popped into my mind. I had a hot glue gun and I had some paper, and I just started putting things together. When I started cutting paper, combining colors and textures, all of a sudden it felt like a sigh of relief. I had finally found a medium that conveyed my vision.
What’s next for you?
I just finished a YA picture book, The Girl Who Was Born with Glue in Her Brain. It will be released in September.
New stories bubble up on a daily basis, and Jessica writes them down and makes images for them as fast as she can Her studio space is a section of floor next to toys and duct tape projects from her son and pillow forts.