Author Spotlight: Jessie Oliveros

Author Spotlight: Jessie Oliveros

Happy Monday and welcome to Picture Book Spotlight! This week is unofficially (and officially in my mind) The Remember Balloons week! Why? Because this book is awesome. And because I said so. AND because we get to hear from both the author and illustrator of this award winning book! Haven't read it yet? A pox upon you. In the words of William Shakespeare, "get thee to a library!" Or amazon. Or an actual bookstore.

Today we get the inside scoop with author Jessie Oliveros. There might be a giveaway opportunity at the end of this post. Maybe. Hypothetically it might involve getting a signed copy of The Remember Balloons for one lucky winner. It might. You'll have to read and see!

Then on Thursday, we get another interview and (maybe) giveaway opportunity with illustrator Dana Wulfekotte!

Alright, alright, alright. No more silliness from me. Please welcome Jessie Oliveros!

What’s something you absolutely must have in the refrigerator or pantry?

Can we go with something I absolutely should NOT have? Anything sugar but especially chocolate chip cookies. These will be consumed at midnight. I've also been known to raid my kids' Halloween bags. Lucky Charms cereal is another special weakness (but just the marshmallows).

Name three things you can’t do your job without.

Quiet. I need quiet to create. I usually write best while my children are sleeping. (Although, The Remember Balloons was composed while my children were playing around me one afternoon.) Next, my laptop of course. Sometimes I write by hand while I'm drafting, but my brain works best with my laptop. And the third thing? A worthy subject. I need to write about something from the heart.

Where do you feel most inspired and why?

Anywhere my mind is relaxed. When I'm out running with my dog I feel particularly inspired. (Bonus if it's cool and rainy.) Driving will do it for me sometimes...if kids aren't screaming in the backseat. Lol.

Give us a little bit about your background and your journey into kid lit. Why picture books?

I've always loved books and writing. But as I was also drawn to science and the practicality of the medical field, I went to nursing school. I worked as a cardiac nurse for about six years before hanging up my stethoscope to stay home fulltime with my kids. And that's when my brain REALLY started wanting to create. Once I cleared it of all those telemetry patterns and IV drips. Haha! As far as picture books...well, when I got serious about publication about ten years ago, I started with picture books [a little cheesy tale called Charlie Nickel Gets his Wish]. My journey took me to YA and MG over the years, but I was always writing picture books. I love the art form of writing a tale in 32 pages. I love writing for kids that are the same ages as my kids. I love sculpting and creating a tale that will (hopefully) one day be married to illustrations. (Fun fact: I was still querying my middle grade novel when I wrote The Remember Balloons, a middle grade novel which had over 100 rejections!)

Your website mentions climbing mountains in Utah during your college years. Please tell us more about this! I am an avid rock climber, hiker, and mountain biker and lived in Utah from 6th grade until the summer before my junior year. Utah is such a wonderful, outdoor playground!

I attended BYU which is nestled right against the beautiful Wasatch Mountains. I enjoyed hiking them on my own and with friends. I loved riding my bike on the trails. The waterfalls. Lakeside camping. The mountain air. I really miss my mountains!

As a mom of four, your work-life balance must be very difficult to, well, balance. What’s a typical day for you and, how do you make it all work?

I don't know if I can use the word "typical." Every day throws new things at me. It's a constant struggle to balance both, and the scale is very tipsy one way or the other depending on the day. But the best answer is that my life is 89% scrambling to be a decent mom and 40% my author life and 5% confusion over how I'm making it work at all.

Talk to us about your experiences visiting schools. What do those visits look like and what do you hope to accomplish? Any memorable stories come to mind about a particular visit? Do you recommend offering skype visits for schools?

I have had limited experience with school visits so far. I've visited my daughters' and son's classes. I skyped with four classrooms on World Read Aloud Day this year. (I plan to do more once my youngest is in school.) BUT, I have loved my school visits. I love the questions and engaging the kids and seeing where their minds spin. I definitely recommend offering skype visits for school, and I also recommend knowing your worth. My friends (and children authors) Michelle Cusolito and Jeanette Bradley did a survey which everyone should read.