We were so lucky to this month to get the chance to talk with Jessica Rose, author of Let’s Get Creative: Art for a Healthy Planet. Read on to learn about Jessica’s creative process and her tips on becoming a writer!

Where do you find the inspiration for your writing?

My writing is inspired by the world around me—from the tallest trees and skyscrapers to the tiniest flowers and insects. I’m inspired by the ways the natural world and art come together in unexpected ways, whether it’s through a pollinator garden at a local park or a mural on a huge building. I’m also really encouraged by the amazing work of young people who are using their creativity to advocate for a more sustainable world. Their work pushes me to explore new ideas and perspectives in my writing.

What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?

I was an avid reader who loved to read anything I could get my hands on, but I was especially fond of collecting every title in my favourite book series, including Sweet Valley Kids and the Babysitter’s Club. I loved that the Sweet Valley series had a twin named Jessica; however, I was much more of an Elizabeth!

Later, some of my favourite books included Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume and The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. I loved these books because they represented what I considered to be an accurate representation of girlhood, exploring topics like puberty, grief, and identity. They were refreshing compared to many other titles in the 80s and 90s that were superficial in their portrayal of young girls’ experiences or centred the lives of boys.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned when creating your book?
One thing that surprises a lot of people, including myself, is how long it takes to get a book onto a bookstore or library’s shelves. The process of pitching my book to a publisher to having it in my hands took a full four years! There’s a lot of researching, editing, revising, and designing that goes into a book like this. I was also lucky enough to have my book illustrated by an amazing artist named Jarett Sitter, so it also took time for him to bring the book to life visually!

What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?

My biggest challenge as a writer is finding the time to write or, more generally, to be creative. I have a lot of ideas, but between work, kids, and day-to-day tasks, it’s often difficult to find quiet moments. I’m often writing notes to myself on scrap pieces of paper throughout the day so I don’t forget ideas when they come to me. I also need to remind myself constantly to write, write, write! What I mean by that is I love the process of researching. I could research one topic for months on end. But eventually I need to sit down with all the information and start the writing process.

What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
So much of Let’s Get Creative: Art for a Healthy Planet is about using your voice, and your art, to create a better world. Whether you’re a writer, a visual artist, or an activist, your thoughts and opinions matter! My advice would be to never forget that, even if you feel frustrated that your voice isn’t being heard.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came to me when I was a journalism student at Carleton University. One of my professors said, “If you write, you are a writer.” Because of this, I don’t like the term “aspiring writer.” If you’re already doing the work of a writer, you are a writer! Don’t be afraid to show your work to others to get feedback. You can do this by asking a friend or family member to read your work, or sign up for a writing workshop or writing group.