Book Chat: Kylie Mort
Kylie Mort is a best-selling author, teacher and holistic life coach, whose incredible wealth of experience has culminated in the creation of her beautiful picture book, Little People Big Emotions. I'm honoured to welcome Kylie to Book Chat.
Hi Kylie! A big welcome, and congratulations on the publication of your beautiful and much-needed book, Little People Big Emotions. It will be an incredibly valuable resource for parents and teachers as they help children to understand and accept their own emotions and manage them in practical and healthy ways.
To begin with, knowing that you have written widely on themes including resilience, courage, and leadership, I’d love to learn about your journey towards becoming a children’s author, and particularly how you feel your previous writing has brought you to this point.
Hi Cameron, thanks so much for inviting me to talk about my writing and my resources. My journey is one that began with a traumatic childhood that saw my retreat into the magical world of books and words. It was through using this portal as a coping mechanism that I would become a Literature major at university, a secondary school teacher and then eventually, through my ongoing affinity with words, an author.
I always knew I was going to write but it was an organic journey as my first publication “Empowered Women Empowering the World” was actually an invitation extended by a business colleague who perceived that my unique journey through trauma and recovery would inspire others. After penning this memoir regarding my earlier journey and corporate success, I was then fielding invitations to write for a variety of books and magazines around my various qualifications, and through gathering this experience in the publishing world, I then found the courage to put forward my idea to a publisher I was working with.
Please tell us everything you’d like us to know about your new book, Little People Big Emotions.
“Little People Big Emotions” is my ultimate passion project. After two decades as a schoolteacher and 13 years of crafting my skills as a holistic coach working with individuals to develop their unique skills and be their best selves, this book is a compilation of all the important messages I explore with young people. It encourages self-reflection, emotional intelligence, and resilience, yet just as important, it encourages reaching out and connecting with people who can share the burden and provide the experiential answers so often inconceivable to the young person’s mind. Our young people must be taught that being perfectly, uniquely themselves is 100% OK, and that they will always have an adult to support them.
I’d love to know how you feel your experience as a teacher and holistic coach informed the process of writing Little People Big Emotions.
This children’s book is a product of my knowledge and my career. It is a narrative born of the teachings I instil in my children and my clients every day. The words of this story came to me when I was meditating early one morning during the pandemic. Every day I was contacted by parents anguished by their role as both parent and teacher during the lockdowns and I wanted to provide the calm, stability of my own professional knowledge to support their balanced guidance of the young people in their lives. This is why I wrote the FREE study guide to accompany the book. I knew what I would teach as I used this illustrated children’s literature as an educational resource in a schooling context, and I wanted to provide all parents, caregivers, and educators with that same confidence to explore contextual and thematic ideas and really connect with the young people and discover their individual perceptions and reality.
Little People Big Emotions captures in beautifully poetic but nonetheless child-friendly language the way our minds can work and the emotions we can encounter from day to day, using a range of highly relatable metaphors. I’d love to know what inspired this very effective approach.
The journey of my own daughter, Mackenzie, is complicated by an inattentive ADHD diagnosis. She has been challenged by symptoms of this diagnosis her entire life and yet, she is so clever and has so much to give when it comes to expressing her creativity and imagination. The words of this narrative came to me through my deliberate concentration on attempting to see the world through her eyes. The best way to support someone is with contextual knowledge and deliberate empathy, and every day I strive to better support the young people around me by focusing on the world through their perspectives, to the best of my ability, filtering our shared environment through their lenses.
Would you mind telling us a little about the drafting process you went through in the writing of Little People Big Emotions?
As I mentioned, the words came to me in imagery as I sat on my front porch, looking out over the paddocks that surround our home. I am an individual constantly inspired by the beauty around me and as I sat I imagined the butterfly, which led to the puppy and then the blender and so forth. With this creative imagery set up, I then moved into academic mode to piece together the literary devices needed to structure a comprehensive format. The book was written before I contacted Karen (McDermott) and I sent an email that simply said, what do you think? She loved it and her editor changed but one word! A single impactful word that I agreed needed modification, the rest was simply a morning’s flow.
Your illustrator, Tiina Morton, complements the text of Little People Big Emotions with such warmth and sensitivity. Can you tell us a little about the nature of your collaboration with Tiina?
Living on opposite sides of Australia it is no surprise that we have never actually met, but there was a lot of back and forth between Warrenbayne and Perth throughout the illustrating process. She was so very thoughtful when it came to shaping what was in my mind’s eye and creating correlating images in her own beautiful style. Our biggest challenge was the antagonist, the “monster”, as her perception was of the “paper tiger” monster that adults can confidently assuage, and my “monster” was of the much darker nature that young people need to be encouraged to face without shame. After a discussion of experience, we came to an agreement on “our” monster, somewhere in between, yet one that hopefully, still resonates as the platform for important safety discussions with young people.
Can you offer any advice to other authors seeking to produce texts that reassure children about their self-worth, and the validity of their own thought processes?
I feel what is so valuable about a children’s book is the platform it provides to create discussion of important topics. The book is a tangible link that can help open communication channels and give context to topics that feel insurmountable to young people who do not have the language to communicate what they are feeling. My free study guide was written to further that connection, supporting the bridge that will help to start conversations and give structure to a verbal journey that neither child not adult might have navigated before. The narrative began with the beauty of imagery, developed through academic perusal of literary devices, and ended with an expository support structure to give rise to themes. My advice would be to start where your passion lies, where your idea dwells and seek support if you are not sure how to bring it to life.
What’s next for Kylie Mort?
For someone who is constantly seeking to expand my knowledge and connect my passionate priorities the biggest challenge is always prioritising time. Finding time and not spreading this too thinly! I am currently coaching, studying psychology, training as a diesel mechanic (in the business I run with my husband), raising the two beautiful protagonists of this book to the best of my ability, and building an ever-growing library of essay writing resources in my educational smart device app “How to Write with Kylie Mort”. I honestly feel I am running to capacity! Ultimately, my ongoing passion is spreading the educational resources I write to as many young people as possible, through communities, schools and childhood settings and having this educational app as well as the children’s book will ensure I have a target product to assist all ages.
Where are the best places for readers to find you online and get hold of your books, particularly Little People Big Emotions?
I have a website www.kyliemort.com.au and this is the best way to learn more about both the paid and free resources I share. For more everyday contact I can be found on social media at @kyliemort22 and if anyone would like to contact me for direct advice, sales and personalisation of resources please email me at email@example.com. I would love to chat with you!
Thanks so much for your time, Kylie. It's been a real pleasure to learn more about you and your very important work. I look forward to seeing where your creativity takes you next.
This post is part of a blog tour for Little People Big Emotions, presented by Books On Tour PR & Marketing. Please keep following Kylie's journey on all of the fine blogs below.