I’m excited to feature children’s picture book author Yuno Imai on Frog on a Blog today. Yuno has recently published two very timely books. In an email correspondence, Yuno said, “I specialize in writing heartwarming stories that help children and adults cope with death. I know many people have lost their loved ones and are hurting right now due to COVID-19… I hope my stories will inspire or heal readers.”
Let’s learn more about Yuno and her two beautifully illustrated books.
Why do you like to write stories for children?
I believe children have limitless potential. They’re curious and open to learn. Through my stories, I hope to inspire my readers to exercise creativity and imagination.
I’m a fan of children’s books and what they represent – family time, creativity and imagination, opportunity to get a peek into a new world. Many stories are timeless and can be passed down to next generations.
I think of children’s books as art. As an author, it’s exciting to see how my ideas take shape as books and could potentially live over a century!
What inspired you to write your two beautiful picture books The Last Meal and Trevor and Me? And can you tell us a bit about each book?
Trevor and Me is about reincarnation and friendship that transcends age, nationality and gender. It’s based on my real life friendship with my elderly friend, Trevor.
The Last Meal is about last meal requests of death row inmates. Compassion plays a big role in this story.
They’re both heartwarming stories that help readers cope with death or develop a healthy understanding of difficult subjects. I got inspiration to write about death, because 1) I’m interested in the topic, and 2) growing up, my mom was very uncomfortable discussing it.
I realized that many parents struggle to find ways to explain death to their children, so I decided to write stories around difficult subjects.
“Food” is also a common theme in my stories as I’m a food writer and always intrigued by memories and feelings associated with people’s favorite food.
On your website, you describe yourself as a go-getter. How did this quality help you pursue publication? And what route did you take to publish your books?
Being a go-getter helps tremendously when it comes to pursuing your goals. Believe it or not, I’ve never had a regular 9-5 job. Being your own boss and managing your time requires discipline. I’m naturally driven and motivated, and over the years, I cultivated my professionalism and driven attitude.
Becoming an author is like a marathon. It’s an endless journey and there are always things you could do more. Being a go-getter helps you keep the fire going. 🙂
I chose to self-publish my children’s books, with plans to get picked up by publishers in the future. I initially looked for agents in the U.S. and UK, and reached out to publishers in Japan, but couldn’t seem to make it happen.
I believe in making your own dreams come true, so I decided to just go for it anyway.
It’s obviously a lot more work, but nice to take control of your own destiny in a way. Having physical copies has been helping spread the word — I’m currently in talks with Chinese publishers.
You have two different illustrators for your books, and both did a fantastic job! How did you find your illustrators?
I found both of my illustrators online.
It took me a good 2-3 years finding the right person — I asked my friends and colleagues for referrals, attended book fairs and Creator’s Expo in Tokyo, all while searching online.
After talking with countless illustrators, I had about 10 of them draw samples for me. Finally in 2019, I found two illustrators that could truly understand what was inside of my head, and put them onto paper.
Illustrations are a very important part of children’s books. I could not have done it without my illustrators and I’m so grateful for their talent and professionalism!
You are also a food & travel writer. How different is that from writing for children? Are there any similarities?
In my opinion, the whole message and purpose of writing changes, depending on who you write for. When I write my food and travel articles, my goal is to provide readers with useful information. I make sure to include the basic information, like any journalistic articles would. For children’s books, I focus on showing and telling a story, instead of just providing information.
How I approach writing, though are the same whether I’m writing an article for adult readers or children’s stories for younger readers. I love puzzles, so I write in sections and pieces and move them around like I’m playing puzzles.
Where can people go to find more information about you and your books?
You can learn more about my books and order them on my website and Amazon worldwide!
Is there anything else you’d like to share with everyone?
I really hope my stories will inspire, entertain or help you heal. I love getting comments and feedback about my books – please feel free to email or DM me on social media!
Yuno Imai is a Los Angeles based children’s book author and food & travel writer.
She specializes in writing heartwarming stories that help readers cope with death or develop a healthy understanding of difficult subjects. She is originally from Hamamatsu, Japan and came to the United States alone at 17, speaking very little English, and spent a year as a high school foreign exchange student in a small town in Kansas.
Yuno is passionate about inspiring people through her stories and also bridging Japan and other countries, especially America, where she calls her second home.