Trillium Book Award Author Readings June 16

On Writing, with Alma Fullerton

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Alma Fullerton is an award-winning children's author living in Midland, Ontario. Although she's an accomplished visual artist, her newest book, Community Soup (Pajama Press), is the first book she's illustrated herself. Directed towards children ages four to seven, Community Soup gives young Canadians a fun look at everyday life in a Kenyan village, including a mischievous herd of goats.

Today, Alma tells Open Book about why she writes for children and how she gets it all done.

Open Book:

Tell us about your new children's book, Community Soup.

Alma Fullerton:

Community Soup is about a little girl named Kioni whose goat herd is causing havoc in her school’s community garden.


Community Soup is the first children's book that you've illustrated yourself. How was the creative process different for you this time?


Besides being longer, there were a lot more people involved.


Your children's books are often set in developing countries. Why are you drawn to tell these stories for Canadian kids?


There are so many reasons, but basically I think it’s important to let children know about the world around them. The more they know the more likely they’ll do something to change the things that need to be changed. Or in the very least, they may not groan as much when their mother tells them to put their plates away if they know some child in Africa is carrying a five gallon jug of water across their village to water their goats.


How does being a mother make you a better children's author?


I don’t know that being a mother makes me a better children’s author, but it certainly gives me a lot of material to write about.


What does an average writing day look like for you?


I have absolutely no structure in my day whatsoever because everyday is different, but today the plan is:

Wake up at 8am,
grab coffee,
catch up on emails,
two interviews, (this being one)
breakfast in my office,
finish painting a commissioned portrait,
work on a first draft of scheduling layout for a conference,
change at least one of my talks to suit the school/grade I’m presenting at
and prepare the canvas for one illustration for a picture book.
Draw up a flyer for fund raiser I’m volunteering with,
family/home stuff and dinner.

With it being Thursday I might actually get some writing on a novel in tonight.

And at any point during the day everything could change.


What was the last great book you read?


The Center of Everything, by Linda Urban.


What are you working on now?


The line drawings for two picture books set in North America, and a middle-grade novel involving a 13-year-old girl named Marlee, a yurt, some chickens and a pair of Christian Louboutins.

Alma Fullerton’s free-verse novels for juvenile and young adult readers have earned her multiple nominations and awards. Libertad (Fitzhenry & Whiteside) was nominated for the Governor General’s Award; won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and the CLA Book of the Year Honour; and appeared on the Bank Street Books Best Children’s Books list. Burn (Dancing Cat Books) was a finalist for the TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award and the CLA Book of the Year Award. In 2012 Alma published her first picture book, A Good Trade (Pajama Press). Community Soup is the first picture book Alma has chosen to illustrate herself, using a striking primitive paper sculpture technique. Alma lives in Midland, Ontario.

For more information about Community Soup please visit the Pajama Press website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.

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