“What’s Your Story?” is a new, guest post feature on BCBA web. Authors-traditional and self-published-are invited to write about their books, writing journey, creative process, inspiration, rewards and challenges of publishing, etc. They can go in whatever direction they choose. We are excited and grateful for their willingness to share, and we hope you enjoy our guests’ stories.
Peace, my name is Robert, and I’m an author/illustrator from Oakland California, raised in the Bay Area. I have been a lifelong artist, drawing inspiration from graffiti, printmaking, social justice, music, ethnic studies, parenthood, fine art, illustration, and so much more. I have been working on children’s books for the past four years, and I have been a freelance illustrator for over eleven years.
I am always learning as a writer. The woman that made me want to read and write is Octavia Butler. It was after reading some of her books that I believed that I could not only enjoy reading but that I too could write. The way I started was by writing lot of words and tags in graffiti. I would look up words and write lists, and I would then take those lists and make sentences that would turn into paragraphs, and that is how I wrote my first story. I could not find anyone at the time who could “see” the value of my writing or understand its worth, so I published it with a team of folks, and now it exists and has been accepted by librarian and child alike.
Now, my process for creating children’s book usually starts with an idea. But when I first started out, I would draw pictures until finding one that I wanted to paint. Then, I would write a paragraph or a sentence to accompany that image. Nowadays, I do a mixture of both processes. Sometimes, I write my idea down first, and other times, my idea comes from a picture.
My son and my wife are inspirations. And, inspiration is like the air I breathe every day, meaning it is a fundamental part of my life. I find inspiration from what I see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. When I am on the hunt for new inspiration, however, I just go to the library, sit down with books, and draw or write whatever I like from the books. I look at calligraphy, old Chinese armor, flowers, graphic novels, or photography books—anything to spark an idea. When I’m at home, I use Pinterest and other pin boards of themes, stories, books, music, and more. My inspiration comes from everywhere.
One of the rewards of self-publishing is that you learn what it takes to get a book into a child’s hands. Publishing is so much more than writing or illustrating. You learn what type of team it takes to take on a project because, in my opinion, it is impossible to do it alone. The rewards of publishing yourself also include learning to work with others and supporting and contributing to a community of like-minded people with a similar goal or passion. Money, of course, is a challenge; it takes money to print, market, promote, film, edit, etc. Patience is also a challenge. Because I don’t have the money to put out as many books as I would like, it takes patience to hold onto ideas and to see them through from beginning to finish, no matter how long it takes.
Robert Liu-Trujillo is the author and illustrator of Furqan’s First Flat Top. He also illustrated A Bean and Cheese Taco Birthday, I am Sausal Creek, and One of a Kind, Like Me and has assisted a few other authors and illustrators on their books. Trujillo has a lot of other book ideas swirling in his head. Occasionally, he writes about what it’s like to be a freelancer and a children’s book creator.
Connect with Robert Liu-Trujillo