Today I have the honor of interviewing a wonderful and very talented author, one whom I am very pleased to be hosting this month. I bring you – Anita Yasuda!
Anita Yasuda is a qualified Montessori and ECE teacher who has lived and worked in many countries. A member of SCBWI, she completed her Honors degree at the University of Toronto.
Anita writes nonfiction for both adults and children. Her work has been featured in Calgary's Child, Kahani, Highlights, and Stories for Children. She is also the author of 10 books, with several more due to be published soon.
When I first heard that Anita has 10 published books, I was truly amazed, it is quite an accomplishment! As you can see on my bookshelf to the left I have added Anita’s books to my bookshelf, you might have to click the little arrow at the bottom of the shelf to see them all. Anyways! Here’s a small little interview for all of you –
Heather: So, Anita, tell me, what encouraged you to write a book about the solar system?
Anita: When I was very young my parents woke me up one autumn evening and quickly ushered me outdoors. What was the emergency? Why the aurora borealis of course. Blue and green flashes of light danced through the sky. They seemed to be directly over my house. From that point on I was hooked on space. What were the stars called? How far away were the planets? Would we ever land on the moon again? I suppose I have never stopped looking up and wondering.
Heather: I love the aurora borealis, never seen one outside of pictures though. So, it sounds like you know quite a bit about the solar system, but what is the coolest thing you know?
Anita: The coolest thing is how we humans interact with the solar system. Spacewalking is one of the most difficult and dangerous things man does to further his knowledge of the solar system. Before an astronaut can rocket off, years of physical and academic training is required. A few weeks after making my version of the astronaut tool belt one astronaut actually lost hers on a space walk, proving that there is never a dull moment in space. For days there was coverage of this astronaut watching helplessly as her belt floated off. That belt is now one of the more than 8,000 artificial objects orbiting Earth.
Heather: That is cool! There are many planets that are all completely different from each other; do you have a favorite?
Anita: I’d like to say the planet that hasn’t yet been discovered but as a resident of a planet, I’ll say Earth. Observing Earth from space, satellites provide us with essential information on our water, land and atmosphere. Just thinking about Earth as the only known planet to harbor life makes our planet special. We haven’t yet discovered everything about Earth or even mapped the ocean floor. This means there are some cool adventures waiting for us just outside the door. So let’s get moving!
Heather: *packs up suitcase* Okay, I’m ready! *laughs* But first, I must ask, what was your favorite activity? Why?
Anita: I enjoy crafting and creating projects with anything I can pull out of my recycling bin. Watching my homemade Mars Rover take shape from a cereal box, juice cans, and wire hangers made me feel as proud as if I had created the original. My daughter and niece, loved making the astronaut suits from old painter suits, embellished with markers, glitter and glow in the dark glue. They were such a hit that the girls wore them for Halloween.
Heather: *takes a step out the door* Arts and Crafts are always my favorite subject, why do you think kids will be interested in reading about the solar system?
Anita: It’s exciting to think about a trip to the planets in our galaxy, exploring the surface of Mars, soaring above Earth in the Space Shuttle, and discovering new planets. How thrilling to imagine yourself working on the International Space Station or being part of a permanent space colony. Wow! For this adventure all a child needs to do is turn a page and get ready for an amazing journey.
Heather: *pulls out map searches for nearest mass of water* It is exciting to think about a trip to our galaxy, and it’s one dream that seems so out of our world which actually can become a true dream, I think it’s awesome. What was your favorite part of writing this book and learning about the solar system?
Anita: I loved learning about space firsts, the men and women who have made space exploration a reality. Also how the Mars rover just kept on exploring years after it was supposed to have finished its mission. It was interesting to read about the importance of international collaboration between space agencies. Without this cooperation, the International Space Station (ISS) would not exist. Thanks to this huge international effort the station is a reality. It was so cool to learn how astronauts eat, exercise, sleep, work and deal with challenges in space. In a short period of time we have moved from Neil Armstrong’s ‘one small step’ to making living in space a reality.
Heather: *heads off for nearest mass of water* How will the activities in the book help kids learn about the solar system?
Anita: As a former Montessori teacher I know how children love to explore and learn using their hands. Children are able to internalize projects, activities and experiments in this book by using all their senses. This interactive book is bound to stimulate more questions about the solar system.
Heather: *Arrives at large mass of water* How long have you been writing for?Anita: Writing and reading are passions I have had since childhood. I honestly don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing down story ideas. For years I taught preschool and would write before and after school. I’ve been writing professionally for ten years. To date I’ve had ten books published and many magazine articles for both adults and children.
Heather: *pulls out piece of paper* What was it that got you writing for publication?
Anita: After the birth of my daughter I decided that the time in my life had come to just try and get published. Maybe I realized that I wasn’t going to achieve my writing goals if my manuscripts simply lingered in a drawer.
Heather: *begins drawing map of bottom of large water mass* Do you have a set time when you write, or just whenever you get the urge?
Anita: That’s a good question. I write everyday and find mornings the most productive. It’s important for me to set aside a block of time when I don’t answer the phone, check emails, run errands, etc. But I still find there aren’t enough hours in the day!Heather: *finishes drawing map of bottom of large water mass* Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
Anita: It’s hard to choose just one favorite author or book. My home looks like a library. I guess it helps that my daughter is a library helper as she has done wonders organizing our collection. I am an avid reader of nonfiction biographies for children. I Iove Kathleen Krull’s “…and what the neighbors thought” series, Jackie Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley, and M.T Anderson’s Strange Mr. Satie.Heather: *turns around and heads back home* Have you ever had writer's block, and if so how do you usually get rid of it?
Anita: When I cannot find a way to explain in ‘child-friendly’ terms a concept or event, I take a break from my computer screen. Listening to music, walking the dog and even gardening are helpful in clearing my mind. Heather: What do you recommend to aspiring authors?Anita: I think aspiring authors should read as much as they can in the genre in which they are wishing to write for. They should know what is being published and why. Taking classes and belonging to a critique group are also helpful.
Great tips, Anita, I’m sure they’ll help someone in his or her journey to become a great author like yourself.