The Styling Librarian

In my opinion, books are the best accessory.

Styling Librarian Author Interview with Salina Yoon

I am so honored to feature and celebrate the talented Salina Yoon, author and illustrator, on the blog today. I love her youngest children’s books to her treasured picture books. I love picture book series and Salina’s Penguin series is quite a treasure. Salina patiently answered questions I was quite curious about and others as well, thank you so much Salina!
What was your inspiration behind your wonderful Penguin series?
The character behind Penguin is really my son. Even as a toddler, he was very curious and observant of things found in nature. Between ages 4-5 yrs, he would collect things like rocks, sea shells, and even pine cones. I recall the moment he asked for a little blanket to put on his pine cone that he named, “Pineconey.” I cut out a piece of fleece, which he used as a blanket, and put Pineconey in a little box for a bed. This sweet and kind gesture is what inspired Penguin finding a pine cone to treasure, nurture, and befriend.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
The most memorable one that I have read recently is THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN, by Katherine Applegate. Superb writing, gripping voice, and heartfelt tale, with gorgeous pictures. It was remarkable and unforgettable.
Are you in a writers/illustrators group? If so, has it helped you?
I am not in a formal critique group, but I have many friends that are writers and illustrators, many of whom I met on Verla Kay’s Blueboards (now, the SCBWI Blueboards a message and chat board for children’s book writers and illustrators. As an introvert, I wasn’t interested in meeting up with anyone physically, but I was looking for a community of like-minded kidlit people to connect with. Here, I met friends who shared their wisdom, offered support and encouragement, and shared their personal triumphs and failures in publishing… and I did the same. They are a wonderful and supportive community of children’s book writers and illustrators! I just wish I had the time to continue to have that be a part of my life, but I’m so glad and grateful for the friends I have made from that online community.
I was nervous about joining my local SCBWI group at first, because they had real-life meetings and events! But now, I love participating when I can, and it’s helped me grow professionally as well as personally. It’s so important for authors and illustrators to make connections with other kid-lit people!
Do you have a key writing tips for kids? Or adults?
For both kids AND adults, my key writing tip is: Just write it! It doesn’t have to be perfect! And you don’t have to know where it’s going.

I think the biggest obstacle for me as a writer has been the fear of writing junk. I’ve learned that it’s okay to write junk! Every piece of literature started off as junk! (Okay,… maybe not every piece… but most, I suspect!)  If I push through this fear, I’m left with a draft that I can work with. Sometimes, the junk needs to be trashed,… and other times, the trash can be made into treasure. Be fearless. GO WRITE!

Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
STORMY NIGHT, the second book in the Bear series that began with FOUND, will release in January of 2015. And Penguin’s fifth book, PENGUIN’S BIG ADVENTURE, will release in the fall of 2015. Also, fun board book editions of Penguin in Love and Found will be made available in the coming year as well.
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?
I haven’t seen any significant (or even noticeable) impact on the picture book or novelty and board book market due to the growth of the e-Book industry. I think parents still treasure physical books to read to their children.
Did you always plan on a writing/illustrating career or if not…?
I never imagined in my wildest dreams as a young person that I would become a writer. I still find it hard to call myself a writer! I don’t feel like one because my ideas are more visual than literary. I was never a strong reader as a child, nor a strong writer as a young adult. I don’t think I even grasped the English language all too well. I still have trouble with grammar, punctuation, and spelling—the basics of writing!  Well… it turns out that if you have enough illustrations in a book, the book somehow writes itself. Storyboarding has become an integral part of my writing process.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? 
My favorite pizza toppings are: artichokes, jalapeños, and red onions!
Sentences to finish if you don’t mind:
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was…. don’t fall in love with your work.
Falling in love with our own work personalizes it too much, and it makes it too hard to move on if it’s not loved. I strive to distance myself from it, though I’m not always successful. But it’s good advice. I’ve moved on from hundreds of projects that didn’t receive editorial love… and it didn’t break me! I kept moving forward.
The habit I never break for my writing/illustrating practice is…storyboarding as I write the story.
I cannot write a story without storyboarding as I go. The storyboards are as rough as stick figures, but this is my writing process!
Here are some first-drafts of some of my picture book ideas! EEP! Don’t look too closely!  These happen to be ones in development, but even my published books all started this way.

Why do people always assume… I must not get much sleep!

People often ask me, “When do you sleep?” when they discover how much I’ve published, and continue to publish. People get the impression I work ’round the clock! Actually, I don’t. Not even close. I work fast—very fast, if an idea is approved by an editor. I’ve finished the final artwork and text for board books within 2 weeks (after approvals), and picture books within 6 weeks. When I am inspired, development and production of that idea happens swiftly! But there’s a lot of down-time in between projects where nothing happens. Nothing on paper, anyway. I’m not rushing, or typing away on my computer, or buried in research. I like to browse at bookstores, think quietly in libraries, play online games, jot down ideas at cafes, and take it easy. In fact, sometimes I think I’m quite lazy! But being an author/illustrator doesn’t mean we can be productive all of the time. The time to relax, taking it slow, and thinking in unstructured ways are part of the process and help to inspire us—and then the frenzied work comes!

Debbie, you forgot to ask me… if I have any secret rooms in my house!

Why yes, yes I do!  There’s a space beneath the stairs of my house that my husband found behind the wall of my studio. He cut into the wall, and laid down some carpeting, so I can store my miscellaneous things inside. He then made a little door for me to access it. What’s inside, you ask? Lots of clutter, but necessary and important clutter! This includes; unsold book dummies, wrapping paper, various fabrics and materials used for old novelty book dummies, Penguin and Pinecone (the play) costumes and props, school visit props, shipping materials, and more! There’s also little treasures my kids have left behind… like a lego-made Penguin, wearing an orange scarf hand knitted by my mother.

*Oh my goodness, I want to ask other authors about this now! That is just way too cool! 🙂 Thank you for sharing!!
Thank you for the interview, Debbie!
No, thank you!!! So thrilled to have you here!
Your readers can find out more about me at:, or connect with me on Facebook.
Finding Salina Yoon's book Found at my favorite local bookstore this summer was quite exciting!

Finding Salina Yoon’s book Found at my favorite local bookstore this summer was quite exciting!


Want more book ideas and reviews? – Yes, I’m quite brief, but a prolific reader!  Please visit me at Goodreads: Also, please follow this blog through email updates – (do so to the right of this blog post), my Facebook page, comment, or meet up with me on Twitter. I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.

FTC Required Disclosure: This site is an Amazon affiliate, and purchases made through Amazon links (including linked book covers) may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you). Additionally this site is a Powells Books affiliate, and purchases made through the linked book covers may result in my receiving a small commission (at no additional cost to you).

© 2013 by Debbie Alvarez of The Styling Librarian. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @stylinlibrarian or at my Styling Librarian Page on Facebook.


2 comments on “Styling Librarian Author Interview with Salina Yoon

  1. rnewman504
    December 16, 2014

    Terrific interview! Love the secret room.

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