Get those preorders in! Due out Dec. 7, Bisa’s Carnaval is full of heart and happiness, and bursting with color! I’m so happy to have the opportunity to chat with author Joana Pastro about how this book came to be. Welcome to Writers’ Rumpus, Joana!
JP: Thank you so much for having me!
KC: You are also the author of LillyBelle, A Damsel NOT in Distress so that makes Bisa’s Carnaval your second picture book. Did you always want to write picture books?
JP: No, it’s interesting because being an author was never a career I even considered while growing up. After my kids were born, I remember reading picture books to them and being absolutely in awe of picture books. I didn’t understand how the process worked. I thought that I had to work side-by-side with an illustrator, but I didn’t have those connections. Still, I had lots of ideas brewing on my mind, so I wrote a middle grade novel instead. It took me another three years to finally start working on picture books.
KC: I remember thinking the same thing about working with an illustrator before I got into writing! Can you share a little bit about your process for writing Bisa’s Carnaval? Where did the spark for this story come from?
JP: I wanted to write a book that had Carnaval as a setting, so I soaked in all the information I could find about carnivals in general, and then I focused in on Brazilian carnaval. But I still couldn’t figure out the story I wanted to tell, so I put the research aside and let it simmer for a few months. One day, I had an epiphany, so before leaving the house with my kids, I quickly went over the research, and left. Two hours later, I had the whole story figured out. It poured out of me, and didn’t change much after that first draft.
KC: That is amazing! Sometimes we just need good ideas to simmer before they are ready to be told! I love Carolina Coroa’s art so much. It is so colorful and full of energy. Do you have a favorite spread from Bisa’s Carnaval?
JP: Me too! Carolina did such a phenomenal job. I love the whole book. It’s so joyful and vibrant! It’s hard to pick just one spread, so I’ll pick two, the wordless spread, and the one where Clara leads the way back to Bisa’s house.
KC: Wordless spreads are always a favorite for me! Do you have a specific writing schedule or any helpful writing habits that you’ll let us in on?
JP: I’m just now, after two years, getting back to the writing schedule that allows me to be my most creative and productive self. I usually have between 9am to 2:30pm to work on my writing. That includes actual book writing, revising, reading mentor texts, reviewing and promoting my books.
As for helpful writing habits, the best thing is to stay on schedule as much as possible. I force myself to ignore laundry and dishes, or any messes around the house when it’s writing time. Housework is never ending, and has a way of pulling us in. If you stop for “just a little thing” you might never sit down to write. That’s easier said than done.
KC: I’m definitely guilty of self-sabotaging my writing time with housework. But I’m working on creating those important boundaries. What are you working on now/next and where can people follow you online?
JP: I’m working on edits for a soon-to-be-announced project. Other than that, I always have a couple of picture books on the works. I’m also working on board books and chapter books, and I’m excited to be participating in NaNoWriMo this year. I’m writing a middle grade novel that has been on my mind for months now and making actual progress!
Joana Pastro is an architect who became a children’s book author. Her debut picture book, LILLYBELLE, A DAMSEL NOT IN DISTRESS, illustrated by Jhon Ortiz, was published by Boyds Mills Press, now Astra Kids, in 2020. Her second book, BISA’S CARNAVAL, illustrated by Carolina Coroa, will be published by Scholastic on December 7th, 2021. Originally from Brazil, Joana now lives in Florida with her husband, her three extremely creative children, and two rambunctious dogs. You can find her on Twitter @jopastro, Instagram on @joanapastro, on her website at www.joanapastro.com