Story Snug is excited to join author, Emma Pearl, on the blog tour for her debut picture book. Mending the Moon, beautifully illustrated by Sara Ugolotti, will be available in the US on November 1st and in the UK on December 5th.
The Story: The full moon is so big and heavy that it’s fallen to the ground and smashed into pieces. Luna and her grandfather, Poppa, with the help of the forest animals, gather up the pieces and stick the moon back together. But then they must find a way to get it back into the sky…
Mending the Moon is a beautifully atmospheric story which is perfect for bedtime. Sara Ugolotti’s night time illustrations are gorgeous and include a variety of wildlife – deer, rabbits, foxes, birds, silkworms and a frog who plays a very important part in this nocturnal adventure. Luna has a really heartwarming relationship with Poppa who supports her as she goes through the process of mending the moon.
We are delighted to welcome you to Story Snug, Emma. Congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book!
Thank you so much for having me!
We always love to know how our guests became authors. How did you become a writer?
I grew up in a world of books (Roald Dahl was my great uncle and The Twits was dedicated to me, age 7!) and I’ve written stories since I was big enough to hold a pencil. I wrote a lot of stories, poetry and a novel in my teens/20s but only started what I consider ‘serious’ writing about 5 years ago (I’m 50 next year!). By serious, I mean buckling down to learn the craft and dedicating everything to the goal of becoming an agented/published author. I stumbled upon the online writing community, especially WriteMentor, and was amazed to find it so kind, supportive and full of valuable resources and information for an aspiring writer.
I applied for the WriteMentor mentor programme in 2020 and was selected by Lu Hersey for one of my middle grade novels, which was a brilliant experience. Then I had a stroke of luck and received a like from Kayla Tostevin at Page Street Kids for one of my picture book manuscripts at a Twitter pitch event (#PBPitch). From that came my first book deal, followed by a second for a sequel a few months later. In June this year (2022) I signed with my agent Sera Rivers.
How amazing to be related to Roald Dahl!
We love the relationship between Luna and her grandfather in Mending the Moon. How and where did you get the inspiration for the story?
My own father was old (58 when I was born), which meant two things: 1) I didn’t have any grandparents of my own on that side, and 2) he was in many ways like a grandfather and a father all in one. I had a very special relationship with him and he was definitely in the forefront of my mind as I wrote the character of Poppa and the way he interacts with Luna.
It’s lovely that you based Poppa on your Dad!
What are the main themes of the story? Is there a message that you want to convey to readers of the book?
In all my writing, I like to showcase the power and magic of nature. I think the subtle (or maybe not-so-subtle) message behind the story of the moon falling down is that the planet is struggling, and that humans need to have compassion for all living things and learn to work in harmony with nature to fix it. I think we all have the capacity to be more Luna!
We love Sara Ugolotti’s whimsical, atmospheric illustrations and her portrayals of the forest animals. We particularly love the illustration at the beginning of the story where the animals are holding the pieces of the broken moon.
Was there a lot of collaboration between you and Sara before the book was published?
Sara’s illustrations are incredible, aren’t they?! With most picture books, there is little or no collaboration between the author and artist beforehand. I did have some input into the selection of the illustrator and on the first sketches, but largely the publisher managed the two processes (art/design and text/editorial) separately. So I wasn’t directly in touch with Sara until after the final artwork was completed. Since then, we’ve been in touch quite a lot. I wanted to convey my huge gratitude to her for the amazing job she did bringing my story to life – it’s so magical to see. I was also interested to know more about her processes (my interview with her is available on my website), and we’ve talked about how we’re going to promote the book together from different parts of the world. Plus she’s been working on our next collaboration, which is very exciting!
That is exciting! Do you have a favourite illustration from the story?
Aaah, so many! I adore the endpapers, all the animals and Luna herself. If I had to pick one image, it would be the frog leaping out of the lake – it’s a moment of action but also of peaceful wonder (and I love frogs!).
Is there any advice that you would give to aspiring #kidlit writers?
Find your people. There are loads of writing communities out there – find one that works for you, whether it’s online or in person. Almost without exception, the people I’ve encountered along the way have been generous with their time, welcoming, encouraging and kind. The support of other writers is vital – for your learning, your career and your sanity.
Learn your craft. There are plenty of resources available, many of them free. And plenty of experienced writers willing to share their knowledge and expertise. You can never stop learning.
Work hard and be prepared for a long, slow, difficult journey. Perseverance and resilience are key. It’s hard!
Which authors have influenced your writing? Authors that you may have read as a child as well as current authors.
I was a real bookworm as a kid. Obviously Roald Dahl was a huge influence and inspiration – I read all his books over and over again. Before I could read, I would learn poetry off by heart and recite it at anyone who would listen – I must have been 2 or 3. I read The Famous Five series before I started school. I also loved E. Nesbit, Diana Wynne-Jones, Walter Farley, Frances Hodgson Burnett… anything I could get my hands on, and if it involved magic or horses, so much the better!
Current authors – I write YA and MG as well as picture books, and honestly there are so many talented authors in kidlit today. I really admire Kiran Millwood Hargrave, Melinda Salisbury, Frances Hardinge, Elizabeth Acevedo, Leigh Bardugo, Stephanie Garber, Ayana Grey, Jessica Townsend. Picture book authors – I love everything by Tom Percival, Clare Helen Welsh, Jessixa Bagley… I could go on and on…
We’re always interested to know what authors enjoy reading. Do you have a current favourite picture book?
Just one?? Not possible. But here are some of my all-time favourites:
In a Jar and Out of a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Julián is a Mermaid by Jessica Love
Eyes That Kiss in the Corners and Eyes That Speak to the Stars by Joanna Ho, illustrated by Dung Ho
Are you able to tell us about any future titles or projects that you’re currently working on?
Saving the Sun, the sequel to Mending the Moon, comes out in September 2023. This time Luna and Poppa are holidaying on a tropical island when the sun gets so hot he has to go for a dip in the ocean. Together with the monkeys, birds and sea creatures, they have to help him back into the sky. I’ve just seen the final artwork and it’s absolutely stunning! Summer and ocean vibes that perfectly complement the winter mountain vibes of Mending the Moon, plus plenty more super cute animals.
Aside from that, I have a YA novel going out on submission soon, and many more novels and picture books in the pipeline.
Good luck with your novel submission! Saving the Sun sounds awesome, we’re looking forward to reading more about Luna and Poppa.
About Emma Pearl
Emma Pearl writes fiction for all ages from picture books to Young Adult. She is based in New Zealand and is represented by Sera Rivers.
Sara Ugolotti is a children’s book illustrator based in Italy. She is represented by Advocate Art
Mending the Moon is published by Page Street Kids. You can read more about Emma, Sara and the book on the other blog tour stops;