Today I'd like to welcome Ska St. Julian, author of
"The Basket of Seeds" to the Thursday interview.
Before we get started, a quick intro!
I grew up with classic children's lit like Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland at the same time I was reading Mad Magazine and watching movies on TV that I wasn't old enough to understand--these influences explain quite a bit. For me, the best stories for kids have adult appeal, and it's only natural that a bedtime story should be about sleep itself, which is how I came to write The Basket of Seeds. It's been a magical experience: my illustrator and I did a spontaneous public reading in a hotel dining room when we were in the last phase of the drawing. I'm still not sure if the people were delighted or just thought we had gone insane...
OK - HERE WE GO !!
1) Would you break the law to save a loved one? Why?
Of course. Laws (if they're just, for sometimes they haven't been) reflect how the perfect world works. Yet people's real lives may exist in the negative space between reality and what we'd like reality to be. I'd like to know I did what I could to save the life of someone I hold dear. Characters do this in fiction all the time. I hope I could be that brave.
2) What is the difference between being alive and truly living?
That's tough to answer: for the other animals, the daily tasks of singing, dancing, grooming, sleeping, and mating equals truly living, but humans may not see that. Humans may think truly living has to do with where you go on vacation or how new your car is. Sorry, I side with the birds and cats!
3) What motivates you to write?
Anything and everything. Every day something happens--in the news, or with people I know, wherever--that makes me say, this should be a story, this ought to be a novel. I could have written twice as much of The Basket if I wanted, because I'm full of stories.
4) Why do humans want children?
Not all humans do nowadays, but when they do, much of it is optimism--I will treasure this child, give him or her a better life than mine, and improve the world. In my fictional world, all children are cherished and given opportunities for wonder.
5) What was the biggest challenge in creating your book?
Reining the story in. I started with the basic bedtime story, with the colors and textures of sleep and a few characters, and my family and friends asked me about it each day. So every day I made something up, and it grew, with different characters and species and events, like the 1,001 nights. If I had written everything down, it could have gone on forever. So I stuck to a year-in-the-forest structure and a few central characters. Some of the minor aspects of the book have their own story lines in the oral history. The Triplies and Tuplies are probably writing their own books about themselves.
6) What is the most important thing you have learned in life so far?
I'll say it cheerfully, like Mr. Natural in the R. Crumb cartoons--"The whole universe is completely insane!" I've learned plenty of important things aside from that, but if I arranged them as a flow chart, they'd all lead back to that central idea.
7) How did you come up with your title "The Basket of Seeds" ?
I had the idea very early that a griot of the forest told a never-ending story from all over the world, starting with the legend of the Egg King, which is from Puerto Rico. The story was broadcast to all every night during their sleep. The storyteller would start her show with "And now, another chapter in The Basket of Seeds." I don't recall how I arrived at this title, but when I started writing, I knew this was the title.
8) How do you handle personal criticism?
Badly, I guess. The Basket got a bad review that The Chris Six Group used as part of their online ad campaign because they were being arch, but the fact that they were mocking this unaware reviewer didn't take away from the fact that it was a bad review.
9) Why should people read your book?
Adults should read The Basket because it will put them in touch with their creative, innocent side, and maybe with their sleep. Children should read The Basket because it's beaky and squeakish.
10) Why is there something rather than nothing?
That's the big question--why is there weather instead of no weather? It's the big question we have as humans. At best we have to leave it alone, because there's nothing to be done about it. We just don't have the right kind of nothing to compare it with.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions & the best of luck with your new book!
Check out "The Basket of Seeds" on
Spend a year in a magical forest where humans, birds, cats, orangutans, and even extraterrestrials live together happily, and enter a dream world where the Secrets of Sleep ensure restful nights for all. Life is busy as the seasons change and the forest kids experience adventures, games, creativity, friendship, and love. Meet Baby Bud, a wee birdie who's never too sleepy for a bedtime story; Füzzy, a shape-shifting Secret of Sleep; Celeste, a charming tabby; and Goldenbeak, a tiny space alien who wants to hang out with the big humans. Come to the studio as the sleep jockeys prepare a midnight broadcast. Revel in the festivities as the Mystery Cats are sworn in. And don't forget to get your sleep order in now--the sleepy train awaits!