Paula Merlán (Vigo, 1979) is a Spanish award-winning author. She graduated in Law and Education. Currently, she combines writing with teaching, her two passions. She has published more than twenty children's books, many of them translated into several languages such as Galician, Basque, Catalan, English, Italian, French and Korean. Her most important books are The Bizzies (Cuento de luz, 2019) and A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise (Nubeocho, 2017), winner at the 2018 International Latino Book Awards. Find her at her blog and on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
In this post, Paula discusses how a walk along the water inspired her new children’s book, Something’s Happening in the City, her advice for other writers, and more!
Name: Paula Merlán
Book title: Something’s Happening in the City
Publisher: Cuento de Luz
Expected release date: March 15, 2022
Previous titles: For You, The Kite of Dreams, The Bizzies
Elevator pitch: The story follows a young girl and her dog as they navigate their way through the city with a plan to solve a mystery.
What prompted you to write this book?
The idea came up during a walk with my family through the Retiro Park, in Madrid. The park is big, beautiful, full of trees, and has a big pond. I was struck by seeing so many people walking around looking at their mobiles, without paying attention to everything around them, or even their companions. This was what inspired the creation of Something is Happening in the City.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
A short time elapsed from when the idea arose until its publication. When I finished writing the story, I got in touch with the illustrator Concha Pasamar. We had already collaborated on another Cuento de Luz picture book entitled The Kite of Dreams.
I suggested to her to create some illustrations to go with the text. Concha accepted and produced three sample illustrations. Besides, she made me participate in the process. It was exciting to enjoy it with her and bring suggestions.
Once the illustrations were ready, we sent the project to Cuento de Luz. The publisher liked it so much that they immediately told us that they wanted to publish it.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
Each book is a new experience, and in this case much more so, since the process of creating illustrations and correction of the text was marked by the confinement caused by the pandemic. This situation greatly influenced the illustrations in the book, because they show the greatness of nature after rediscovering the importance of those small great things that before perhaps passed us somewhat more unnoticed.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
Yes, there were. The protagonist of this story had another name, but we decided to change it to Helena, because she is a real person, and she was the one who inspired the illustrations of Something is Happening in the City. When it was published, it was truly magical to see in real life little Helena with the book in her hands.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
I would like readers to be able to get excited about those little big things that surround us. This book also aims to make us reflect on the impact new technologies have on our society and how, on many occasions, they catch and hold too much of our attention and gaining too great prominence in our lives.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
My little advice would be to pay close attention to all the beauty around you, to enjoy every moment in the company of your loved ones. In my case, I try to make the most of the time I spend with my children. Also, they are always a great source of inspiration for me. Behind a song, a walk or a kiss, a great story can be hidden.