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Advice For Young Writers, Debut Picture Books and Three Questions With Ishta Mercurio (SMALL WORLD, Abrams)


Ishta Mercurio is an author and actor. Raised in Cincinnati, she has traveled to England, Scotland, Italy, France, and all over the United States. She now lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she films and photographs plants and wildlife, from the tall to the small, in her backyard. I met Ishta through our local Torkidlit group and CANSCAIP. You can find out more about Ishta and her work at her website IshtaMercurio.com, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.

SMALL WORLD is Ishta's debut as a picture book author! The gorgeous illustrations are by Jen Corace. Thanks to Abrams for sending me a copy. Wow, check out what was beneath the dust jacket:

Lyrical writing and (as I mentioned above) stunning illustrations, plus I *love* that the little girl grows up to be an astronaut.

SMALL WORLD comes out from ABRAMS Books for Young Readers on July 2, 2019. Read more about Small World on the publisher's website.

Synopsis: "This geometric meditation on wonder follows Nanda as she grows and her wonder at the world and all that it holds--from cogs and wheels to fractals in snowflakes--grows with her, from the circle of her mother's arms to the city and countryside and all the way to space." Check out the reviews at Publishers Weekly, Kirkus and Shelf Awareness!

Q. Could you please take a photo or video of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?

This is a little wind-up "bug" that I got one year for Christmas. I've always loved mechanical things, especially the ones where you can see the parts as they move and you can figure out how they work. Computers kind of mystify me, because so much of how they work is based on electrical signals and code. It's all hidden. (My kids understand them, but I don't!) I'm a physical person, and I like playing with things with moving parts, where I can see the cause and effect of how those parts fit together and what they do and what part each piece plays in the working of the machine.

Q. What advice do you have for young writers?

When in doubt, throw it out! We say this about food that you think miiiiight have gone bad, but you're not completely sure, right? But it's true of writing, too! If you're not absolutely sure that a draft or a scene or a sentence is working, throw it out! I get really hung up on the words that are there, and putting them where I can't see them--either in an Outtakes folder or by printing them and filing that draft away and then deleting the words from my manuscript--allows me to move on and to try a different approach. And thrown-out words are never wasted. They all help hone in on the heart of the story you're trying to tell. As long as you keep the heart of the story at the front of your mind, you can throw out everything you've done and know that whatever you write next will be one step closer to the truest, best version.

Q. What are you excited about right now?

SUMMER! I love summer. Feeling that hot summer sun on my skin is one of my favorite things.


For more interviews, see my Inkygirl Interview Archive.Also see Advice For Young Writers and Illustrators, a compilation of tips generously offered by children's book creators I've interviewed over the years.

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