Katrina Moore is in my 20/20 Vision picture book marketing group. Her debut picture book, ONE HUG is a rhyming story filled with heart. I’m excited to highlight her new release on Writers’ Rumpus!
Kirsti Call: Your book, GRANDPA GRUMPS is a heartwarming intergenerational story about a girl who is determined to make her grandfather smile before he leaves. What inspired you to write it?
Katrina Moore: Growing up, I spent so many years watching my grandpa cook. We didn’t exchange many words—he spoke Chinese (Cantonese), I spoke English—and the words we did exchange were jumbled and never did justice to what I really wanted to say. But when he cooked, when I watched, and later, when we cooked together, we shared something special. And now, a decade later since he has passed away, I still feel him close to me every time I cook. Some connections are stronger than words.
It was this connection—this strong relationship built on love, and very little words, that inspired me to write GRANDPA GRUMPS.
KC: Daisy is a spunky, loving main character. Is she modeled off of anyone in your life?
KM: Daisy was so much fun to dream up. I modeled her spirit off of my own as a child. I was happy-go-lucky, with big dreams and big ideas. That was my starting point. And then as I dove deeper into writing this story, about a Grandpa who’s seemingly grumpy, but not really—I knew I had to contrast him with Daisy, who has the sweetest intentions, and her own agenda, and will bring you along, whether you like it, or not! Xindi, the amazing illustrator, brought Daisy and Yeh-Yeh to life in a way that was better than I could have imagined. Through her art, she took the beginnings of the characters I created and added nuance and expressions and character design details that really make them the irresistible pair. The cover illustration, for instance, makes me giggle every time because there’s so much to unpack.
KC: I adore illustrations that beg us to examine them–and the juxtaposition between Grandpa and Daisy on your cover does that! I love intergenerational stories. What is your favorite memory with one of your grandfather’s?
KM: The grandfather in GRANDPA GRUMPS was inspired by my paternal grandfather, Yeh-Yeh. All my favorite memories with him include him cooking or baking. He was a chef in China before he immigrated here. So there were mornings where I would wake up to the sound of very loud hammering. I’d run downstairs to see him wearing his favorite blue apron, covered in flour, and the counters and kitchen table buried beneath millions of pastries that he prepared before anyone else was awake.
The hammering sound was from this large wooden paddle that was like a mold and cast. He would press the mooncake into the paddle, and then hammer it out against the table. When I’d wake up early enough, he’d let me do the hammering—and I loved it!
KC: That sounds like so much fun! What other projects are you working on?
KM: Next up for me are more (not yet announced) picture books, and a soon-to-be announced chapter book series. I’m very excited about all that’s upcoming. And, I’m always working on a few things that are in different stages, styles, or genres, at once. I find that helps me to switch gears when I need a break, and also approach each project with fresh perspective. So there’s more to come!
KC: Yay! I can’t wait! What advice would you give aspiring authors?
KM: My biggest advice would be to keep writing and keep moving forward—even if it seems like you’re writing into the void, even if you’re worried no one but you is going to enjoy it, even if you’re getting rejection after rejection.
If you keep going, keep learning, and keep applying what you learn, you’re going to build a body of work that’s better and better. There’s so much that is out of our control, and this continues even after publication, so focus on what you can control—your writing. If you make your writing as strong and as “you” as you can, the rest will work itself out in time.
KC: Thank you, Katrina! I love your Barnes and Noble story time appears, so I’m sharing it here!
Katrina Moore writes and teaches in New Jersey. Her mission is to create books that children will hug for ages. Her debut picture book is ONE HUG, illustrated by Julia Woolf (Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins). Her second picture book is GRANDPA GRUMPS, illustrated by Xindi Yan (April 7, 2020 from Little Bee Books). More to-be-announced books are on the way! When she is not teaching elementary kids or writing, she is cooking without a recipe, painting outside the lines, or snuggling up with her puppies, one husband, two kids, and of course, many cozy books. Connect with her on twitter @kmoorebooks or at www.katrinamoorebooks.com.