Author Interview: Kelle Lima
Hi Kelle. Thank you for the interview. Hi! Thank you so much for having me (:
Your children’s book, Along Came Oliver, was released last month. I’ve not been through the children’s book section at the bookstore in a number of years, but I feel like there have always been a ton of books written with the intent of helping kids understand their emotions. Why did you choose to do the same? There can NEVER be too many books in a subject, mainly if the book’s intent is to help someone (: That said, I feel like jealousy isn’t a very frequent subject within children’s books. I actually went to local libraries and asked for books on the subject and the collection was so small… Besides that, most books didn’t portray the feeling as I wish it did. So I decided to bring my own life experience to life, back it with lots of psychological tools for readers to use, and hope that it would help children around the world.
I really like the idea of an activity book to go with the book itself. How did you come up with that idea?
This is my first picture book launch, but I’m really into activity books! I’ve launched 4 activity books since January 2022! I think the best ways for kids to learn is to practice things they learn, hands on and interactive activity books are my go to. I decided to make the activity book free on my website to help kids have access to the tools it offers, from things they can do to control jealousy to a free counseling resource they can use.
You have put out a couple other educational activity books as well including some that focus on American Sign Language. These are books I could have used when my children were younger and homeschooling. What drew you to ASL? Yes I do! I actually grew up quite close to LIBRAS (the Brazilian sign language) and when I came to the USA I felt sooo bad because I tried to use LIBRAS to communicate with a hard of hearing person… That didn’t go well haha! And I found out that each country had their own sign language. That’s when I started looking into ASL and fell in love with a TV show that covered the language pretty neatly.
Either way… Then I had my daughter and decided to teach it to her (which helped me potty train her before 16 months old!). I really believe inclusive education is important and I want my kid to grow up understanding it, living it. As my kiddo started grasping the idea of numbers and letters I noticed that ASL resources are usually made for HOH kids OR based on traditional curriculum… There is barely anything that combines resources for a true inclusive education experience. I started creating pintables which I ended up transforming into books. Books that are carefully crafted for HOH to understand written concepts and for kids in general to learn curriculum as they learn ASL.
What has been the response to these books? My activity books had amazing reception by the deaf community, but it is far from successful as far as reach goes. Activity books are super hard to make it out there, mainly as a debut author. I have hopes it will slowly grow and reach more and more kids. Ratings are heartwarming! Disability Book Week’s evaluation made my heart flip, haha. So fingers crossed they will get more places!
Your books are available in Portuguese. That is a language I haven’t seen many things translated into. Portuguese also isn’t a language we think of or talk about when we are talking about bilingual children. How much need have you seen for books to be in Portuguese? Books in Portuguese are sooo hard to find! I’m from Brazil and my kiddo is learning Portuguese along with the other languages we are teaching her. Exposing multilingual children to books and other learning resources daily is extremely important… Music is kind of easy but books have been a challenge. There is one main author we have pretty much all books from and a few random ones. I’m still pretty new as far as exploring the business part of this, but I might have some data soon.
You do all your own illustrations. Tell me how you got into drawing. I have always been into drawing. I actually started my Design BA to make art for videogames. I ended up creating art behind the curtains (which sometimes ended up in the games lol) as a game designer for many years. I am a pencil and paper kind of artist though, so getting into this digital painting world has been interesting and challenging (for example, my iPad is quite old… To make my book illustrations I have a max of 9 layers per spread! That was so weird to me, because when I do digital illustration for game design on my pc I have dozens haha. Well, I’m learning more each day.
What are you currently working on? I’m currently working on two new picture books (a fiction and a non-fiction one). The non-fiction is about hearing! And is actually being illustrated by my awesome and skilled brother-in-law Allan Mesquita. And my fiction one is being illustrated by me and the main character is based on my daughter (physically speaking) and the story has a little bit of my own life in it (: I’m also getting all set for my author event on July 9 2022 (from 12pm to 4pm) at Barnes and Noble Sugarhouse in Salt Lake City!
I am always interested in why people write what they do. Why did you choose to write children’s books over something else? Did your background in education influence this decision? I actually didn’t choose children’s books haha! I have written a choose your own adventure fairy tale horror and I’m currently working on a middle grade fantasy adventure based on the Greek mythology world! They are not just published yet. I’m saving up for an editor (English is my 3rd language and I’m not confident on publishing such a long book without having it checked). My mind is wild, I really love creating and telling different kinds of stories.
Tell us about Bookspoint, this is such an awesome idea, and why you started it. Bookspoint is a slack channel to help authors out. It started when I was at an online writing conference and we wanted to chat after it but the conference didn’t have anything to connect us together. Nowadays there are 200+ people that joined!
It’s a place where authors can help authors, share experiences, workshops, find critique groups, get easy info about contests, querying, etc.). It hasn’t been super active though as I’m super busy and I created my Facebook group that is doing the same thing. We recently started something super cool to help indie authors get their book into libraries or get sporadic sales. I just got Along Came Oliver on Salt Lake City County libraries on June 7 2022! You can check it out over here: https://bit.ly/authorcommunity
What do you do when you aren’t writing or illustrating?
I help authors (haha! I do free promo of their books on my YouTube channel and Instagram as well as some freelance stuff like social media posts, pintables, etc.). I have an inclusive playlist on my YouTube channel @mamaishere2021 and I gather volunteers (from authors to ASL interpreters) to make read aloud time more inclusive.
But I’m also a mom and I spend my days with my sassy little girl (I work from 10pm-2am almost every single day because she is with me during the morning/afternoons) and I love playing board games with my husband and friends. I’m also into watching movies/series, reading, and I love traveling too.