Kids should always see themselves represented in books, and writer Jessica Yaun is here to discuss this on KidlIt Creator Interview with All Ages of Geek and “Galaxy-Boy Delivery”.
Jessica writes both fiction and nonfiction picture books for kids, chapter books, middle grade, young adult novels, novellas, poetry, articles, and copy on a variety of topics. She mainly does it all in the book world!
What’s inspiring is as a disabled author and parent, she is an advocate for making sure disabilities are properly represented in all forms of media. One point Jessica wanted to make at All Ages of Geek is that books featuring disabilities should be “accessible to all libraries, book stores and schools around the world” just so “kids can see themselves in stories” but also so they can “feel confident about disabilities and encouraged to go for their dreams”.
If you want to support independent creators in your area, check out IndieBound and click below to search for indie bookstores in your area. You can also search for books created by disabled authors, or stories featuring and empowering disabilities in kids books!
Now let’s get into the interview with Jessica Yaun!
What makes your work different?
I am a disabled author and write mostly about people and animals with disabilities.
Who is your support team for your work?
My wonderful husband listens to all my ideas, proofreads, and keeps our kids out of my hair so I can write. My dear friend Erin Woodsmall is my go-to gal for all things writing. I have an all-star critique group, and of course my kids, who inspire me every day.
Where do you usually work? Home studio? Study room? Cafe?
I work wherever inspiration strikes. These days that’s usually at home, but I’ve pulled my phone or a notebook out in the school pickup line or anywhere I could steal a few quiet moments for myself.
List 3 books that inspire you!
Ah, only 3? Recently, I loved Escargot by Dashka Slater, the Tea Dragon trilogy, and A Leaf Can Be by Laura P. Salas.
What are some worlds you’d like to explore in fiction?
I’ll devour any setting as a reader. In my writing, I’m working on a mermaid story that begins in the Gulf of Mexico and moves into the swamps of Louisiana. Another one is a fairytale mashup set in a fictional version of medieval Europe.
What’s your favorite tool to create with? Pencil? Digital? Typewriter? Computer?
I mostly use my phone. I have arthritis, neuropathy, and a benign tremor in my hands, and Swipe/voice to text are the most comfortable ways for me to write now. Before, I loved writing with a gel pen.
How do you create characters?
Some of my characters are loosely based on people I know, or parts of myself. Some of them come to me in dreams. I like people-watching. Sometimes I use character sheets from books, workshops, or games.
What types of stories do you want more of personally?
For myself, I love memoir. Everyone has a story. And for my kids, I want more books that feature kids like them, families like ours, kids like their friends. Kids with ADHD, autism, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, multigenerational households, some of these things are more common than ever since the dawn of Covid. Kids need to see their realities in the books they read. We live in a small house in a Title I school district. Kids living in or near poverty deserve books that represent them.
What was your first picture book, comic, etc?
GABRIEL’S BIG DINOSAUR, a picture book about a little boy and his best friend who overcome a life-changing accident together. I am seeking agent representation for this book.
Who inspired you as a kid?
My elders, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and the natural world.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
So many things! A ballerina, a mommy (check!), a pediatrician, a veterinarian.
What can All Ages of Geek do more for the kidlit world? What do you want to see us do?
Review your favorite books on every platform you can, boost authors in pitch events, and support your local library and schools.
What do you think about All Ages of Geek? Who do you think we should interview next? Any creators you want to give a special shout out to?
I think you’re great! If you haven’t yet, interview Mark Wright, the creator of Cookie Pitch and Chewy Reviewy. Shout outs to Susan Kusel, one of the coolest librarians I know, Emily Chibwana who makes beautiful art, and Patrick Hopkins, who has a wealth of free resources for querying authors.
Where can people find your work online?
You can find me on Twitter @JessosVoice, and I’m working on my author site, https://jwyaun.wixsite.com/jessicayaunauthor.