Next up in our Read Local series: Yonkers-based author Krystia Basil discusses her picture book A Sky Without Lines.
Check out our interview with Krystia below!
1.) Your background is in film development and production. What inspired you to start writing books for children?
KB: I took a hiatus from the long, grueling hours of production life to have my first child. During this time I was fully and happily immersed in children’s picture books as I read so much to my budding bookworm. I would also make up stories and songs to entertain him and lull him to sleep. When he was about a year old, I took on a project that filmed in NY, Texas and California. It was a bit insane supervising an intense production while being present for a toddler. I also found I was not as happy anymore having production life eclipse my personal life.I wanted more time with my family. Writing was something I could squeeze in between the minuscule gaps of raising a wee one. Writing was also a natural segue for me because I had my background in script development where I had learned to shape stories. The short answer is, I was inspired to write for children after having my kids.
2.) When did you come up with the concept for A SKY WITHOUT LINES?
KB: When my 2nd child was born in 2016 I was not yet an U.S citizen although I had lived here for 12 + years as a green card holder. The political climate at the time made me very anxious about being deported without reason and worse, separated from my children. By the following spring my citizenship had come through. But, later that year the news cycle was debating the separation of families at the US-Mexico border. It was my worst fear coming true in someone else’s life. I was heartbroken and felt helpless about the situation. I wrote the story for the same reason we all write, to express our fears, to channel hope and to record for posterity both the good and evil of the times we live through. The story is unfortunately still relevant with the recent tragic news headline about the 545 children who have yet to be rejoined with their parents.
3.) What were some unexpected lessons you learned on the road to publication?
KB: The whole process was fascinating to me. It was my first book, I didn’t have an agent, so every step was self-learned through deep dives into picture book publishing on the internet.
Interestingly though, I found my publisher, Minedition, when I was at the local library in Yonkers. My daughter and I were in the children’s nook browsing after story time. I settled into a rocking chair with ‘Hazlenut Days’ by Emmanuel Bourdier (illustrated by André Langevin Zaü) about a child’s emotions as he visits his father in prison. I was blown away by the subject matter and the courageous choice of the publisher. I noted the publishing information from the book, found the company online and sent a query to the email listed on their site. A couple months later Michael Neugebauer, the founder and owner of Minedition wrote back offering to publish ASWL. It was my 3rd happiest day of the decade:) He chose the story because he empathized with the subject matter and he had it published within a year, which I have since learned is superfast!
4.) What ways have you been reaching readers during the pandemic?
KB: Twitter and Zoom readings!
5.) Who are some writers and artists in the children’s book world that you admire?
KB: I love the lyricism, both in words and visuals, in the works of Yuyi Morales and Eliza Wheeler. Mo Willems and Peter H. Reynolds I love for their awesome blend of humor and philosophy as well as their sparse yet emotionally rich illustrations. I also discovered Ame Dyckman on twitter and find her work super hilarious in a manner that brings out the happy, silly child in me. And I love the work of the amazing Laura Borràs Dalmau ASWL’s illustrator. The book was blessed when she decided to take on the project despite a packed workload. Her beautiful Marwan’s Journey is like a sister to ASWL.
More about Krystia:
KRYSTIA BASIL has been a producer in the film & TV industry since 2005. She has worked with PBS, BBC, Animal Planet, The History Channel, and other media organizations to create compelling and relevant media content. In 2015 she co-founded the production company Poplewaca Productions through which she develops scripts and show concepts.
She was inspired to write for children after having two of her own. Her first children’s picture book – A Sky Without Lines, about a little boy separated from his family at the border – was published by Minediton and released Oct 1st, 2019. Originally from Chennai, India, she’s been trying to figure out being a ‘New Yorker’ for the last 15 odd years.
Authors Guild Profile – http://krystia.ag-sites.net/index.htm
Linkedin Profile – https://www.linkedin.com/in/krystia-basil-16814729/
Twitter – @BasilKrystia