Hello, wonderful readers!
Welcome back to the Oasis ― it's great to have you here! This is the place to refresh your spirits, recharge your creativity, and get a literary mood boost!
Now, stretch your smiles wide and get comfy and cozy for a lovely chitchat because today we have another amazing creative on the KidLit Oasis series... Children's author and illustrator Kataneh Vahdani is here to share some wisdom, insight, and inspiration with us! Plus, check out the DOUBLE giveaway and my workshop invitation to you at the end of this interview.
Welcome, Kataneh! Thank you for joining us on the blog. Please briefly describe your journey to publication.
A: The seed of the story of “Kat and Juju” was inspired by the time I first moved to America from Iran. My mother, my little brother and I left everything behind and came to this country with couple of suitcases, very little money and barely speaking any English.
The theme behind “Kat and Juju” (book 1 of the series) is about bravery and overcoming our fears even at a young age. All the childhood traumas and self-doubts can create insecurities and change lives. If we don’t face our fears when we are kids, they can become bigger issues down the line. I learned to be strong from my mother and also a fallen wild baby bird who once came to my life and inspired me to be brave. My Juju!
I always tell my students and the young creators/authors to be true to themselves when they write a story. Many powerful memorable stories are the ones that are based on the true experience and a raw emotion. This way we can touch the hearts of many, and hopefully bring a positive change.
I want to be honest and tell your readers that the journey to the publication was a long painful one. I had to go through many ups and downs. I knocked on several doors that never opened and many people in power doubted my abilities because I am a minority woman! But luckily, I never let that stop me. I knew I came to this country for a reason. I knew I was one of the lucky ones who got a chance to be free and have a voice. I knew I was responsible to tell a story that can hopefully make an impact. My drive and passion helped me to continue.
So, if you have a story that can heal and help others, never give up. Share your story with the world.
Q: What do you find most challenging in this business, either on the creative or publishing side of things? What do you find most rewarding? What helps you stay motivated?
A: Favoritism is toxic in many industries including ours. Sometimes we get rejected not because our story is not good enough, but because we are not connected to the people in power. Also being a minority woman can make it really difficult to get a platform.
But times are changing and today many women including diverse women, are getting a chance to be heard. So, I encourage you to embrace your true self. Be honest, be proud, be you. Once my Juju taught me to open my wings and fly high and I want to inspire you to do the same.
Q: Could you share any craft tools or techniques that you find most helpful to you when working on a project? What does your revision process look like?
A: I believe sometimes to be able to connect to our creative mind, we need to first try to disconnect. When I first want to write a story idea, I find a space (in nature or at home) where nobody else can distract me and I just zone out. It is a form of meditation and a massage for our brain.
I know we are all going through challenging times so I suggest finding that space where you can cleanse all your thoughts and find that moment when you can reconnect. Allow yourself to disconnect and then find the connection like rebooting your mind. The creative magic can be found there.
I am a visual storyteller and I illustrate my own projects. So, after finding the seed of the idea, I start thinking about shots. I start by writing down the story beats and then draw small thumbnails. This way I can look at the bigger picture and later make the adjustments.
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any new releases, exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
A:“Kat and Juju” is my first children’s book and it will be a book series. These days I am working on the story beats of “Kat and Juju” Book #2.
I was always afraid to be visible and have a public platform. But yet again Juju taught me to be brave and face my fears. So, a few weeks ago, I made @KatandJuju Instagram account public and the support has been unbelievable!
Kat, Juju and I are so excited to meet all our friends (we call birdies) all around the world. We hope to be able to inspire them to face their fears, believe in themselves, open their wings and reach their full potential.
I’m grateful to say I am currently directing my feature animation movie. At this moment I can’t announce anything, but I’m excited to share the news with you and your wonderful readers once the time is right.
I came to this country barely knowing any English, with couple of suitcases and a dream. I worked hard and I didn’t give up even when others wanted me to stop achieving my dream.
Today I have a voice and my wings are open. Want to fly with me?
This was a fun chat, thank you! And congrats on all of your success -- I look forward to the animated movie, too, how exciting!
Readers, please support our featured authors/illustrators by following them on Twitter, Instagram, requesting their book through your local library, posting reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, and of course, purchasing their books.
I hope you enjoyed this post — comments and shares are appreciated. Thank you!
Connect with Kataneh:
Instagram Page: @KatandJuju
Twitter: @KatanehV and @KatandJujuLove
Facebook: KatanehVahdani and Kat Juju
Facebook Page: @KatandJuju
KatanehVahdani is a director, animation creator, storyteller and a professor. She was born in Iran but came to the United States in pursuit of her dream: to have a voice and be free. After receiving a degree in Mathematics, she enrolled at California Institute of the Arts, spending seven years studying animation and earning her master’s degree. She later continued her education in Paris, France. Kataneh's animated films have been screened at many festivals, including the Sundance Film Festival and the New York International Film Festival, where she was named Best Director of Animated Shorts. She worked for many years in the story department at Walt Disney Animation Studios and also taught story, design, and animation at CalArts and College of the Canyons. Kataneh is currently directing an animated feature. In summer 2020 Kataneh's first picture book,
"Kat and Juju" is being published.
G I V E A W A Y!!!
Kataneh is giving away a PB critique and a copy of her book! Please comment on the post by midnight on Monday 5/25 to enter the giveaways. Two winners will be picked and announced next week. Good luck!
You are invited to this epic kidlit workshop!
Early bird registration will expire soon so don't miss it -- register today! Plus, only a limited manuscript critique spots are available. Check out the details HERE.
The winner of Sharon's picture book critique giveaway from last week is... Pamela Huskin! Congrats, Pamela.
An email has been sent to you to connect you with Sharon Giltrow.
5/19/2020 11:08:09 am
Excellent interview. Glad you found you wings and are soaring. I love your art Kataneh.
5/19/2020 08:36:41 pm
Thank you sweet Aimee! I feel very grateful and responsible! I hope I will be able to help others find their wings too :)
5/19/2020 02:50:53 pm
Fabulous interview. Congratulations, Kataneh. Your book looks adorable! :D
5/19/2020 08:41:58 pm
Thank you kind Debbie. Kat, Juju and I send you so much love :)
5/19/2020 03:03:25 pm
OMG Kat! I was a student of yours at COC and I've always admired you and I actually learned a lot from you. Can't wait for the release of the book and I look forward to see what you do next.
5/19/2020 08:52:39 pm
Hi Nikki, Wow! Such a small world! Of course I remember you. You are one of my talented birdies. Thank you for your kind support :)
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About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.