Monday, January 18, 2016

The Amazing Karma Wilson

Karma Wilson
I had the honor of adapting Bear Snores On for the stage. It is one of my favorite rhyming picture books. The story is filled with heart, humor, and friendship. I asked the very busy Karma Wilson if she would answer a few questions about writing and her beloved book.

JK: First of all, THANK YOU, Karma, for being on my blog, and taking the time to answer my questions! When I took a class on rhyme for children, your book, Bear Snores On, came up over and over as one of the finest examples. Did you study rhyme, or does it come naturally? 

KW: I’m funny. Rhyme has always come naturally to me. I have studied it in very small doses and practiced different structures, but my stories are organic to what appeals to me in cadence, rhythm, and rhyme. I find rhyme easier to write than prose because the structure I choose to write in sets automatic limits for me. I don’t have unlimited word choices. I’ve got guidelines. J

The Hare from Bear Snore On
Illustration by Jane Chapman
JK: I read that your mother was a writer. Did she write for children? Did that inspire you to become a writer?

KW: She writes non-fiction for adults, mostly in the addiction recovery genre. But she always wrote for me. She wrote sick notes in rhyme, treasure hunt clues in rhyme, and made books and fairy tales available to me at all times. She has tried her hand at a few children’s books, but doesn’t consider it her genre. 

Karma Wilson
Photo: Scott Wilson Photography

JK: Where do you get your wonderful ideas for your stories?

KW: I like to tell kids it’s a good idea to keep your mind open so story ideas can fall in. I find if I’m open to possibilities anything can become a story. I once wrote a book that came to me while reading a sign in a zoo (Never Ever Shout in a Zoo).

The cast of Bear Snores On at Stages Theatre Company

JK: As you know, I have had the privilege of adapting Bear Snores On for Stages Theatre Company in Hopkins, Minnesota, and it has been a delight. Have you had other stories adapted for the stage? If you have seen them, how did it feel to see your story unfold in front of an audience?

KW: I have seen many photos from classroom and school presentations, and an orchestra once did a musical adaptation to the play which was performed while the book was read by a narrator. Every such production is a special gift to me. The theatre and literature have always been so closely tied, and I like to think I write stories that adapt well to stage drama. I was quite interested in the theatre as a teen and when I went to community college I actually produced and directed a play as a part of a theatre course. J  I thank you so much for your amazing work on the Bear Snores On stage adaptation!


JK: What was the first book you had published? 

KW: Bear Snores On! J                                                       

JK: How has the world of picture books changed since you began writing?

KW: Well, when I started nobody ever sold books through the computer (via the web and email). The way books are produced and advertised has changed a great deal.  I think that rhyme has become a lot more prevalent in recent decades—and is now much more varied in pace, style and presentation. But for the most part I still think good stories written for all children are what appeals the most. 

JK: Do you have a set schedule for your writing?

KW: Absolutely not. 

Bear Snores On
Illustration by Jane Chapman

JK: What is your idea of a perfect day?

KW: I have never experienced one. Every day has some touch of sorrow, annoyance, anger, or fear…but good days for me include fascinating discussions with people I love, moments with my pets, time spent with a book (writing or reading), strong coffee and home cooked food.

JK: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?

KW: Cook, sing, facebook (I live rural and social media is a way for me to connect), read, travel and look into new scientific discoveries about the world around me. 

JK: What is your next project? 

KW: I’m working on a poetry book about the night sky. Each spread will feature a poem, a fact, and a photograph about stars, the moon, and astrological events. This will hopefully become a series of books about many different subjects called The Poems & Facts Series. My life partner Scott Wilson will provide the amazing photographs! 

For more information about Karma, visit:

Nicholas Dekker as Hare, R. Brent Teclaw as Bear
Photo by Bruce Challgren
For more information about Stages Theatre Company's production of Bear Snore On, please visit:

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