Monday 8 February 2021

I Talk Like a River - Author Q&A

We're delighted to invite Jordan Scott onto Picture Book Party blog to tell us all about the making of his new picture book, I Talk Like a River, illustrated by Sydney Smith.

After a day of being unable to speak when asked, and of being stared at, a boy and his father go to the river for some quiet time. "It's just a bad speech day," says Dad. But the boy can't stop thinking about all the eyes watching his lips twisting and twirling. When his father points to the river bubbling, churning, whirling and crashing, the boy finds a way to think about how he speaks. Even the river stutters. Like him. "I talk like a river," he says.

Author Q&A - Jordan Scott

Can you tell us a little bit more about your writing process?

For children's books, I spend a great deal of time working through the concept before I start writing. I usually do this when I'm walking, swimming, or mountain biking. In these moments I'm alone and it's usually very quiet. After I have a concept, I start writing drafts and number each of them. I Talk Like a River came close to fifty drafts before I stopped tinkering. I love the editing process very much and really look forward to it. For I Talk Like a River, I had the privilege of working with the great Neal Porter who did wonders for this book.

What was it like seeing Sydney’s illustrations for the first time?

Life-altering! I can't say enough about the brilliance of Sydney's vision for this book. When I first saw the illustrations I couldn't believe that someone could make paint move like that. Sydney's work contains multitudes and gorgeous nuance. I notice something different every time I read the book. 

Do you still visit the river now?

I do! When I visit my mom and dad I always make a point to spend some time at the place my dad used to take me. It's wonderful that I can bring my own sons to the river now.

How did you feel when you were writing this book?

I feel exhilarated when I write. Maybe not so much in the gathering of ideas and concepts, but once I get a flow going, I slip into another dimension. I finished this book on the outer deck of a ferry crossing the Salish Sea in British Columbia, Canada. Shortly before I wrote the last line, a pod of Orcas breached to the east and the ferry slowed to let them pass. I'll never forget that moment.   

What was your favourite picture book when you were a child?

Alligator Pie by Dennis Lee.

Jordan Scott

A special thanks to our guest author this week, Jordan Scott!

I Talk Like a River is now available to buy from all good booksellers.