Creator Corner: Author Laura Alary
Welcome to Creator Corner, a blog series where we interview the creators of our latest books. For this post, we’re interviewing All the Faces of Me author Laura Alary!
Owlkids Books: How and why did you begin writing children’s books?
Laura Alary: From the time I was very young I loved making books. When I had free time in school I would cut and glue manila paper into little folios and fill them with stories and pictures. By the time I was in grade five or six I was enthralled by Emily of New Moon, and started keeping a journal and carrying around a blank book where I wrote poems and jotted down ideas. But as much as I loved writing, I did not plan on becoming an author because there were so many other things I wanted to do (like becoming an Egyptologist). As I moved through high school and into university, writing became work rather than something I did because I enjoyed it. In fact, after many years as a student, I discovered I had lost my love of writing. When my children were very young, I decided to write a story for them to see if I could find that sense of playfulness I used to have with words. The process of crafting those stories made me so happy, I decided that I wanted to keep doing it! Writing picture books felt like coming home again.
OKB: What themes or topics do you enjoy exploring in your work?
LA: I enjoy writing about connections: among people, between historical events, or how humans are part of the systems and cycles of the natural world. I am fascinated by people’s lives—how they become who they are—so picture book biographies are a favorite of mine. Lately, I have been finding a lot of inspiration in the history of science and the way human beings have used their imaginations and skill at observation to help them understand the cosmos. I also really enjoy finding humor in everyday life and trying to work bits and pieces of it into stories.
OKB: What was the inspiration for this book?
LA: The inspiration for All the Faces of Me came from two children. The first was a little girl who would sometimes get swept away by big feelings, then get frustrated with herself and say things like, “I don’t like sad me,” or “I wish angry me would go away.” That made me think about how we all have these many “faces” or sides to ourselves, and how hard it can be to hold them all in a gentle and loving way.
The second was source of inspiration was a girl who painted a bunch of wooden nesting dolls as different emojis and explained to her mother that they represented her mixed-up feelings about the pandemic. “But it’s OK,” she said, pointing to the biggest doll. “Because the mama holds them all.” I thought that was a very powerful image of a kind of love that holds everything together, whether that love comes from inside us, or from someone else.
OKB: What do you hope readers will take away from this book?
LA: I hope readers go away with curiosity about their own many faces, as well as a sense that other people are also more than they appear to be on the surface. Remembering this might make us a bit more compassionate. Also, I hope readers notice that the conflict in this story is resolved through open-hearted speaking and listening. The little girl and her Nana really want to understand one another. I think we can all learn something from that.
OKB: What’s a fun fact people may not know about you?
LA: When I was little, my dad (who is an amateur radio operator) made me a tiny telegraph key so I could learn and practice Morse code. I never really got beyond tapping out my name and the alphabet, but I thought that was a fun and quirky thing, and I love that my dad put so much effort into feeding my curiosity. Another thing not many people know is is that for years, I was a cast member in the Royal Nova Scotia International Tattoo.This past summer I finally saw the show again for the first time in years!