Reading really does have the power to inspire life, prevent boredom, and heal pain.
If you are looking for children’s books that are special, teach a valuable lesson, and engage your little ones, Megan Padalecki might just be the author you have been looking for.
With two beautifully self-illustrated books (Big Mo and Little Moon) already out and another bound to be on the way, Megan is surely making her mark in the children’s book industry. Each one of her stories is unique, teaching children about important topics in fun, imaginative ways.
This week, we got the incredible chance to talk with Megan Padalecki. We spoke about inspirations, self-publishing, the Supernatural conventions, her books and illustrations, and much more. Check it out down below.
In five words or less, how would you describe yourself?
Playful, Creative, Stubborn, Determined, Focused.
Did you grow up wanting to be an author?
I grew up wanting to draw. I didn’t know how or in what capacity, but I knew that much. The idea of writing picture books finally clicked after many years working as an architect (drawing in a very different way). I realized I had stories to tell and the time was right to give it a try.
Is there a specific process or inspiration you use to create your stories and illustrations? (from @alicupertino)
There’s a long answer to that for sure, but the quick version is that I find my most natural inspiration in, well – nature (go figure!). I tend to absorb my surroundings pretty obsessively, and I read a lot of nonfiction. Learning is really seductive for me. The wonderful side effect of taking information in, is that it goes through a weird, Seussian system of tubes in my head and can pop out as a doodle or story concept. For me, the fantastical is born from the factual.
What is the best advice you have gotten from your brothers? (from @KelseyK96)
I am incredibly lucky to have grown up with two older brothers who still inspire me to work hard and reach people on a personal level. I never feel like advice is “top-down” or one-way with them. In our 3-way dynamic, I think we each affect the others just by osmosis from our own life choices. Something they have both said and shown is to work extra hard now and relax later. That’s open for interpretation I guess, and sometimes I doubt I will ever be comfortable fully “relaxing”! Our parents gave us a really strong work ethic.
Why did you choose to self-publish? (from @kazamigorical)
The traditional method of publishing has its rewards, the biggest of which is allowing for more time to actually write and illustrate. Many people don’t realize just how much of self-publishing is about the business and promotional side. Still, I don’t know if I’d be totally satisfied working under the creative vision of a large publishing house – not right now, at least.
There’s a real simplicity to the creative process when it’s just one person steering the ship. That doesn’t mean it’s smooth sailing (wow, so many nautical metaphors!), but at the time in my life when I started writing books, I was desperately in need of some creative control. I think a picture book is just the right size and scope to handle as an individual. Plus, by self-publishing I guaranteed that I’d be chosen as the illustrator, which is generally out of an author’s hands when publishing with a larger entity.
What are some of the things you enjoyed and disliked about the publishing process? (from @JoBelleCee)
Before I wrote Big Mo, I spent many months researching the publishing industry and taking notes. I learned that a lot goes into creating a physical book. Because of my background in architecture, I thankfully had some experience making physical things that began as drawings. This was really unique knowledge to help me transition into becoming a publisher.
I enjoy every step of the process, from counting words per sentence and finding objective reviewers, to picking paper types and learning about ink absorption. I love the smell of a fresh book and I feel pride arranging promotional events or being invited to speak to classrooms and other groups.
I can objectively say that I do not enjoy navigating Amazon warehousing and fulfillment logistics or transporting heavy boxes of books to events (biceps are not my strong suit). But I suppose that is part of the “blood, sweat and tears” of running your own business?
Every year, you attend a few of the Supernatural conventions with your books. What are the cons like for you?
First of all, the team that hosts the cons is incredibly warm and generous with folding me into the mix. I feel indebted to so many for these great opportunities to meet wonderful people and share my artwork and message of writing. It’s crazy to think, but I had never attended a con until 2015 and since then, I’ve been to eighteen! Still, that is nothing compared to some guests who’ve traveled to many dozens over the years. It really starts to feel like seeing family, especially because my own family is pretty quirky. Oh, and I guess I do literally see family because I always make a point to get dinner or just a hug with my brother. Feeds the soul.
You visit classrooms, bringing Big Mo and Little Moon to children. Any memorable moments from these visits you can share? (from @arlenemillercre)
I get so much reward from school and library visits, so it’s difficult to choose the best moments. In recent memory, I was reading Little Moon to a large room of preschoolers and they were so focused on the reading, which is in and of itself pretty amazing for three-year-olds. When I finished, I asked if they’d like me to read Big Mo next and most of the room shouted “yeeeeeeeah!!!” but this one kid in the very front just yelled, “NO!” – completely deadpan. I couldn’t help it; I cracked up!
I have a really warm memory from visiting my own elementary school and presenting Big Mo to several classes of first graders. The ceiling seemed much lower, the murals had long been painted over, and the big, wooden card catalog was replaced with a computer, but the memory of the place was so strong. It seemed to smell the same as it did in the 80s. That was a really cool experience and the librarian could even remember having Padaleckis way back when. It’s amazing to think that my life had led me back to that place that I loved so much as a kid.
What do you want children and parents to pull away from your books?
There’s so much weight that can be added to a story for children and I tend to entertain pretty heavy messages, usually in the early concept phase before I lighten things up. My goal is that each story will have a “face value” reading – for example a fun and colorful story about a hungry iguana – but will also have extra levels of meaning. Using Big Mo again for example, I tapped into the dangers of over consumption, and shared the warning that we’ve only got one planet.
Kids don’t necessarily need to dive that deeply into a book to get a lot out of it. With Little Moon, an archetypal journey story, I think it would be great if a child simply takes an interest in learning about weird creatures like the Hawaiian Bobtail Squid. Writers tend to feel a great responsibility to the reader, but the simplest goal could be to raise an awareness or curiosity of our complicated world.
Is there another book on the way? (from @demonclrgrd)
Of course! Right now I’m in the “should it be about this, or this, or this, or…” phase. That’s a really fun time because I could end up anywhere. I’ve been in serious need of some mental break lately, and if I work up the guts to actually give myself that dedicated space, I’m sure I’ll land on just the right story for this moment in time. For sure I will introduce a new character(s), but I’ve got two or three competing concepts for theme and plot.
Who are some of your favorite authors? (from @CattIsANerd)
I read so much nonfiction but I should probably disqualify those authors from this answer! Sticking to the realm of my own industry, I’ve always been an avid collector of Dr. Seuss (which I realize does not make me special!). I even enjoy his earliest, atypical prose picture books. I have a specific childhood memory of going to our local library with my mom and always checking out the same book – The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. The story is bizarre and somewhat cumbersome (it was written in 1938), but I love that it represents a starting point for a master of children’s writing.
This is unfair because it changes the question, but I tend to have favorite books rather than authors. To name a few: Animal Farm (which still gives me chills on the last page), The Shining (because King is amazing), The Last Unicorn (which very well may inspire my next book), Ishmael (about ethics, sustainable civilization, and a telepathic gorilla), and Life of Pi (which has a profound message on the healing nature of storytelling).
Lastly, is there anything you’d like to say to your fans/readers?
There is nothing greater to express than humble gratitude! When I made the decision to leave a stable career in architecture to write books, I’ll admit it was terrifying. But it also ended up being one of my favorite things to talk about with many people I’ve had the pleasure to speak with in these past three years. If I could extend one lesson I’ve learned as a token of my thanks, it’s that life is too short to ignore those urges that you feel could bring meaning to your life. There are no wrong turns.
To my littlest readers, I always like to say Happy Reading! It’s a simple statement and wish, but reading really does have the power to inspire life, prevent boredom, and heal pain. And to those little readers who have the desire to create, Happy Writing!
While Big Mo is currently out of stock, Little Moon can be found for purchase here. If you would like to follow Megan on her social media pages, look into her website, or buy her merchandise, you can find all those links down below.
Are you a fan of Megan Padalecki? Have you purchased any of her books? Tell us by tweeting us at @CelebMix.