Karma Wilson is one of those legendary writers in my world. She has written so many amazing books, including the bear series. When I read any of the bear books to my class, I tell them that I am getting ready to read them such an amazing book that it’s just like secret and everybody knows that any good secret can only be told once and since it’s a secret I can’t read it loud because it’s one of those quiet books. Then, I let them know that after they know this secret, they can share this secret with anybody they want to by sharing the book!
I recently got to interview the amazing Karma Wilson and she was just as personable and honest as I dreamed she would be. Check out my interview and then check out her new book A Dog Named Doug because it’s so great!
BrianSmithSpeaks.com (BSS) - You have a new book out, A Dog Named Doug, but the list of your books goes on and on. I would venture a guess that you are best known for your two big series, Bear and Little Pip. Will we see more books in either for either of these characters?
Karma Wilson (KW) - I’m not sure about Pip, but there’s a new bear book due out this fall, and I can’t wait! It’s called BEAR CAN’T SLEEP, and Jane Chapman did an outstanding job on the illustrations! It’s dedicated to my first grandchild, Chloe!
BSS - One of my favorite books that you have written is How to Make an American Pie. Is there one of your books that you are most proud of having created and put out in the world?
KW - I can’t pick just one, but I do feel that Frog In The Bog is one of my most rollicking readalouds! Kids absolutely love it. It’s a fantastic storytelling option and it’s kind of gross, and kids adore gross. But I am really digging A DOG NAMED DOUG after getting a chance to present it to kids on a recent tour. They non stop giggle at the fantastic art by Matt Myers and join in each repeating line!
BSS - Now, what was the inspiration for A Dog Named Doug?
KW - It just occurred to me one day that Dug and Doug are a homophone and I thought of the fun wordplay with dog/dig/dug/Doug and the title A DOG NAMED DOUG popped in my head. I took it from there, and Doug in all his dog diggin’ ways was born.
BSS - Writing a story in rhyme can be really tricky but you seem to excel at it and so many of your books are rhyming books. Is there a secret that you have for creating rhyming books that seem so effortless?
KW - Thank you! I’m not sure, but I think that my background as a singer really enhances my ability to write in rhyme. I was constantly making up jingles, songs, etc...as a child, and I’ve always loved rhyme. I also read hundreds of nursery rhymes and poems as a child.
BSS - One of my favorite parts of this book is when Doug digs into the Oval Office of the White House. I love that the President of the United States is a woman who appears to African American. Was this detail in the story important to you?
KW - I am a big advocate for representation in books. I was THRILLED that the president was a woman of color, but I was also thrilled that the farmer wasn’t just a stereotypical farmer so often depicted in books, but instead a young man of color. There’s a lot of diversity throughout the book, in people, culture, and locations and it’s woven in so naturally. For instance my dear friend Vanessa, a young woman from Colombia, was excited to see her hometown Bogota mentioned on the sign in the final spread. Matt really did a great job being inclusive and it is a very beautiful thing for me to see in my books! If my books are welcoming to every child than one of my biggest goals as a writer has been accomplished.
BSS - Since I am a kindergarten teacher, I found myself mentally connecting the book to several students that I have loved teaching through the years. Doug seems both driven by the act of digging and a bit mischievous at times. When you were writing this book, were these traits that you had in mind for this character?
KW - Oh yes! Doug is a bit of a trouble maker and rather single-minded about his love of digging. I had a dear Jack Russell named Leah who was a digger and once she started on a hole it was almost impossible to get her to stop! I love the goofy, lovable, joyfulness Doug takes in digging! And it reminds me a bit of myself as I can get a little obsessed with things I’m passionate about.
BSS - Is there a message that you wanted to send to readers with this book?
KW - I’m not a real “messag-y” author. I want kids to come away from my stories loving the story and characters and if they get a message from it I hope it’s the one they most needed to hear. I do hope children get a taste of words and wordplay from my work that carries on through their life.
BSS - It seems like you have worked with illustrator Jane Chapman for so many of your books, is this the first book that you worked with Matt Myers?
KW - Yes! And I couldn’t be happier with the many layers he brought to the book! He was the perfect choice.
BSS - I love Matt's work in the books The Infamous Ratsos and Battle Bunny. Did you know his work before this collaboration?
KW - Very barely, but I’m now a huge fan!
BSS - What is next for you?
KW - I am working on a non-fiction poetry book about the night sky which is to be illustrated with astrophotography by my talented husband and photographer Scott Wilson. It’s very overdue because weather and forest fires have made the photography process a challenge! I also am writing some board books for babies since my new granddaughter has babies on my brain. And I’m loving the idea of a follow up to Doug!
BSS - Are there any illustrators or co-writers that are on your dream list to work with?
KW - I actually like to be surprised by who my publishers pick. Choosing illustrators is not my strong point. There are so many brilliant creators I could never choose.
BSS - Thank you so much for your wonderful answers and for creating books that encourage readers.
KW - Thank YOU for asking me and for encouraging children’s literature and literacy!
Be sure to check out my other blog in my In The Artist Studio series and be on the lookout for my new blog series A Reader’s Reaction: honest reviews from one reader.