It’s here! It’s here! Octopus Alone is on our shelves for the very first time today and we are THRILLED! We’re big fans of Austin author and illustrator Divya Srinivasan. We fell in love with her first picture book, Little Owl’s Night, and have been eagerly waiting to share this tale of a sweet, shy octopus with you. And now it’s here! Rejoice!
Divya spoke with KUT today about the process of writing and creating artwork. She also recently spoke with another local children’s author, Chris Barton, a conversation he’s allowed us to excerpt. To keep up with all of his great conversations with authors, and to be eligible to win free books from him, sign up for his newsletter.
CB: What made you want to create Octopus Alone?
DS: I began thinking what setting I’d like to spend some time in — something different from the forest in Little Owl’s Night — that would have its own distinct set of inhabitants. Maybe it was starting to get hot here in Austin, but underwater seemed appealing. I’d been researching Hawaii because I’d never been and wanted to go. Looking at photos of the coral reef, and the beautiful, weird, colorful creatures living there, I thought it would be really fun to draw — and it was! I also liked the idea of exploring that world, going from the busy, friendly, familiar reef to the mysterious, quiet unknown that also has its appeal.
Once I decided on the reef, I knew I wanted the main character to be an octopus. I’d drawn them before and had roughed out a story (just in my head and in my journal) with an octopus on the periphery, so the octopus has been on my mind for a while. As I learned more about them and their characteristics — shy, observant, curious, intelligent, able to camouflage, etc. — Octopus’ personality started taking shape, and so did the story.
“Loner” seems such a negative word, and so definitive. I liked showing a character who loves her home, but realizes she needs some space, and who then ends up finding a place that feels all her own, like a precious secret. It’s her time alone in those quiet surroundings — knowing it’s there for her whenever she needs it — that allows her to breathe easy. When she’s had her fill, she is even excited to get back to her home and her friends in the bustling reef.
CB: Tell me about the kind of child you think Octopus Alone will appeal to the most.
DS: One day, I saw my friend’s three-year-old give herself a time-out. She had been having a drawn-out meltdown and finally did something she had just been told not to do. Before her mom said anything, kiddo went and sat herself in the corner. She knew she needed that quiet place where she did nothing but sit away from everyone, and that’s what time-out was. After a few minutes, she was out of the corner, laughing and playing — renewed! I really hope she likes the book.
Further Cause for Rejoicing: We’re hosting the Octopus Alone release party here on Saturday, May 25 at 2pm! Join us for an underwater adventure full of aquatic-themed snacks and a presentation of Octopus Alone by Divya herself! All are welcome!