Aviva’s interview with Rochelle Storm, author of The Jubilarians and the Music of the Spheres. Here Rochelle shares her experience as a vampire, her best advice for children’s picture book authors — and what it means to be born “sunny-side up.”
What’s your earliest memory of drawing or writing? I was about nine years old, hanging out with my grandparents, when I started reciting a rhyme about a magic potion that kept turning into different animals. I was just making it up as I went, and my grandma quickly wrote it down. Later I submitted it to a poetry contest for kids aged five to fifteen and won honorable mention.
Which children’s book contains your favorite illustrations? After anything illustrated by the remarkable Catherine Bassova the Supernova? Then that would probably have to be Zen Ghosts by Jon Muth. His images have a serene dreamlike quality, and since the story takes place on best holiday ever, Halloween, I revisit it every year in October.
Tell us 3 strange and wonderful things about you.
- I was born looking up, literally. I’ve heard this kind of birth referred to as “sunny-side up”.
- For two consecutive autumns I was employed as a theme-park roaming vampire named Kilvania at Six Flags Great America.
- I got the idea for The Jubilarians from watching a particularly strong rain. The drops were huge, white, and bouncing off my back deck like enormous scattered pearls, as though a vast pearl necklace in the sky had broken.
Any advice for writers thinking about self-publishing a children’s picture book? Find an illustrator whose work matches the tone of your story, but be open to an angle you hadn’t considered. Catherine had Zoot-Suited Guy (Jupiter) show up with an absolutely adorable dog. There is no dog in the narrative, but I’d be darned if I wasn’t going to somehow justify this particular one’s presence. So since this little dog was always in Zoot-Suit’s orbit, it was determined that he represents Jupiter’s largest moon, Ganymede.
What is the strangest job you’ve ever had? I’d have to go with that Kilvania vampire one. Weird as it may sound, Kilvania could do things that I myself can’t, like walk through Halloween haunted houses without reacting to a jump scare, or go several minutes without blinking, so that the unsuspecting would assume they were looking at a creepy but harmless mannequin (until it hissed at them).
Who is your favorite character in the book you’ve written? I love all of them equally! I mean, the partygoers make up our beautiful solar system, so each one is as spectacular as the next. But the Conductor, Space-Outer, is just so impishly happy and fun, especially how Catherine artistically depicts him, so I’ll single out that guy. And after all, it’s the music of Outer Space that awakens everyone to the idea that existence can be a celebration.
Rochelle Storm was born in Michigan and now calls Illinois home. After attending Northwestern University and graduating Phi Beta Kappa, she surrendered to her lifelong reading addiction and pursued jobs where she could be contentedly surrounded by books. Ultimately this led to her current position at the local public library, where she has been cheerfully ensconced in literary habitat for the past fifteen years. For over two decades, she was a volunteer at the wonderful A.D.O.P.T. Pet Shelter in Naperville. The members of her own animal family, past and present, are the music in her universe. Visit Rochelle’s website.