We Were Encouraged To Be Authors

Lynne Podrat Author Interview

My Sister Wants an Elephant follows two siblings who beg their mother to have a llama and an elephant as a pet and their mother comes up with a crafty compromise. What inspired you to convert this true story into a children’s picture book?

What a great question. Thank you for asking this as it has been quite a journey. When I left my retail career, going back to college for my teaching certification and Master’s degree in Education, courses teaching how to teach literature were lack luster, to be blunt. Realizing how uninspired I was to read, let alone write anything, being pressed to outline sentences, focused on my subject/verb agreement, how would children want to write what their hearts needed to say? So, I found a writing program, please don’t ask me to name this program, enrolled in the long-distance course and began writing as per our weekly mail-in assignments. Yes, we were required to edit our work, subject verb agreement was expected as was proper spelling. However, the writing, the thought development, the characters, plot, scenes, showing not telling were most important. Others in the course, assistants and instructor, would fine tune the mechanics. We were encouraged to be authors!!! Encouraged to journal every day, writing our thoughts and feelings whatever came to mind.

Now, understand, I did not journal then, I do not journal now. I never kept a diary as a child. I never found writing feelings cathartic. Opinions, injustices to animals and people, that drove me to write. So, when the topic “Journal about your family” was assigned, this event in the family had actually just happened. Randy had run down the stairs yelling about his sister wanting an elephant as a gift for her second birthday. It was like a gift from the heavens. I wrote three paragraphs and mailed in the short story. My instructor liked the story, but found it lacked luster. I filed it away to work on other assignments.

The course ended and my stories, notes and binder took a backseat to working, shuffling children to activities and volunteering with organizations. Fast forward twenty-four years, packing up our belongings to retire to Florida and I find my writing binder with this short story. That was the moment I thought I might like to take this further, actually finishing the story, now I had the time and two granddaughters who love listening to me share stories about their family. What a fun way to share memories of their father and aunt through a book authored by their own grandmother. We settled into our new home and I began my research I like to call, “My Path to Not Publish My Book.” Besides being overwhelming, getting inundated by emails was challenging. Then, one company offered free editing of your first three pages. I had five paragraphs. With nothing to lose, I sent what I had. They loved the story, Randy’s character and the writing, encouraging me to continue the story.  I refer you back to the writing instructor who claimed this story lacked luster. Ironic, no? Had she responded as this professional company, I might have created this sooner.

This inspired me to finish the story, blocking out where I wanted the illustrations or photos and begin the research again in earnest, knowing more about publishing as I self-published a memoir prior to this. Atmosphere Press and Sarah, my illustrator, were the answers. Now, twenty-nine years later, that story has finally come to life. My grandchildren helped with the cover colors and love this story. Their two favorite illustrations, their grandmother getting licked by a giraffe and walking her Siberian tiger on a leash.

The art in the book is fantastic. What was the art collaboration like with illustrator Sarah Gledhill?

Sarah was delightful to work with: flexible, funny, insightful, creative, and a great listener. I am in awe of her intuition and talent. She “got” me immediately. My manuscript included blocked out locations for either photos or illustrations. So, she respected my creative eye and vision of the book. The first experimental illustration of me was perfect. And, we had never met!!!  Randy and Jerica only needed minor modifications. Communication was across Dropbox and no matter my question or suggestion, her attitude was always, “It shall be done.”

This was the most fun long-distance relationship I have ever had.

What scene in the book did you have the most fun creating?

Before answering this question, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify the giraffe scene as it has stirred quite a bit of curiosity. Yes, the giraffe did lick my entire face and would have come back for more had I not jumped down from the wall in time. The illustration is spot on. To date, Randy has shared this story with my grandchildren and many of his friends.

My most fun scene, though, is when Randy and Jerica try to convince me at dinner to get this elephant, using her new pouting power, and I steal their thunder with my own dream of owning a Siberian tiger. The reaction from both children is priceless and still makes me laugh.

What do you hope is one thing readers take away from your book?

There are two things: Responsibility and Fairness. If given the opportunity and proper direction, children will draw reasonable conclusions. Readers will find that mom never says no, nor does Jerica get her wish first. Mom points out through questioning and encouraging Randy to do research, even at a young age, why having llamas is not in the animals’ best interest. Randy knows in his heart apartment living in the city is not OK, as frustrating as that may be. There are things more important than his wants. Also, quite young, Jerica learns tears won’t make her mother compromise what is fair. As she explains, Jerica will get what she has asked for, but not at the expense of Randy’s feelings as he has waited patiently for a long time. No competition, we are all in this together. Neither one of the children balks.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook

Randy’s sister wants a WHAT?!? And his Mom isn’t flat-out saying no?!

My Sister Wants an Elephant is the true story of two siblings who team up together to convince their mother to let them own a couple of wild animals as pets, and a mother who just might be persuaded.

Full of humor and fun, this book is a good lesson in not giving up on your dreams, no matter how truly wild they may be!

About Literary Titan

The Literary Titan is an organization of professional editors, writers, and professors that have a passion for the written word. We review fiction and non-fiction books in many different genres, as well as conduct author interviews, and recognize talented authors with our Literary Book Award. We are privileged to work with so many creative authors around the globe.

Posted on February 12, 2023, in Interviews and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Such a fun way to keep special family memories alive and share them with others. Great job, Lynne Podrat!

  1. Pingback: We Were Encouraged To Be Authors – GREENE PUBLISHING


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