Our First Featured Artist - Julia Miles Inserro
Julia Inserro, congratulations on the publication of your first children’s book, Nonni’s Moon! Tell us about the book.
Thank you, so much! Nonni’s Moon is about a little girl who lives far away from her grandmother and misses her terribly. Like so many families today, we don’t live close to relatives. It used to be that generations lived close by, but nowadays because of jobs and opportunities, families are split apart, often by continents.
My husband and I have lived overseas for 10 years. During that time, we’ve had three children. And even though we return to the US every year, our kids don’t get to grow up down the street from their grandparents and cousins, and my husband and I miss that, too.
About two years ago, just after we had arrived in Bahrain, my mother I were talking on the phone and she said, “I was really missing you the other night and then I looked up and saw the moon and I realized that you and I see the exact same moon.” And whoosh. The idea for the book appeared. The full story didn’t come to me instantly, but the seed was planted.
Then one day after dropping the kids off at nursery school, I went and sat in my car at the beach behind the school and dictated out the gist of the story on my iPhone. I knew I had something that could resonate not only with expats, but military families, grandparents, aunts, and uncles back in the US and around the world.
So, about a month later, I told my husband I needed a weekend away. I packed up my notebook, pen, paper, laptop, and my phone. I went to a local hotel and stayed for two nights and just wrote and formatted and fleshed out the story. By the end of it, I had the first full draft of Nonni’s Moon (and some really sad stick-figure drawings).
My next steps were finding beta readers and an illustrator. I had some mom friends read it and comment and then I went looking on Facebook for illustrators. I also sent it off for a professional edit. This step is so vitally important for self-publishers. We all think we don’t need editing or proofreading, but we’re wrong. And sometimes, we’re very wrong. It just helps if you really want to produce a quality product that can stand spine-to-spine with traditionally published books.
Once I found my illustrator, Lucy Smith, we started in on a partnership that has turned into a friendship. Lucy also brought a new perspective to Nonni’s Moon that I hadn’t seen. She told me, “I know the story isn’t about bereavement, but when I first read the manuscript I think my father had only just passed away. We’d gone through a few days of the boys asking constantly about where Granddad is and can they talk to him, etc. I had said to the boys that they could talk to Granddad as if he were with them still. My Dad used to work abroad for weeks at a time, and I remember him saying that he used to look at the sky and think that they were the same stars and moon that we could see even though we were many thousands of miles apart. So, the Nonni’s Moon story felt extremely important to me. I could completely relate to how the little girl in the story was feeling and was able to relay that emotion into the illustrations.”
This whole process has been such a learning rollercoaster for me. Luckily, in addition to Lucy, I’ve found some great people along the way who have helped and offered guidance and assistance. It really shouldn’t be called self-publishing, there’s no “self” here, it’s definitely a collective project and I’m so grateful.