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Let's Read Local

Meet Emily Pray, author of Tilly and the Sleepyhead Sun

C: Emily, tell us how Tilly came to be. Is she a character from your childhood?
E: We moved from Maine to New York City when my brothers and I were little.  My father told us stories about two owls, Frank and Betty Wise, who moved with us to the city. The tales were about their adventures, conflicts, and silly antics.  Tilly Wise is inspired by those memories and the nostalgia from remembering the feeling of being engrossed in that world.

C: Writing a children's book is no easy task. Tell us about how the writing and publishing process worked for you.
E: I knew I wanted to write a story for my daughter, like the ones I had had as a child, so I decided to try one day. One thing led to another and soon I found an editor to work with. I just followed the steps. With the unwavering support from my family and the ‘let’s just see what happens’ mentality, Tilly and the Sleepyhead Sun were born!
C: How did you find an illustrator to match your vision of these personalities?

E: Years ago I worked in a mental health agency with a talented woman named Emma. When exploring the idea of self-publishing, I knew I wanted rich and intimate illustrations. Emma is a talented artist and a loving human being. I knew it was a perfect match. I’m so grateful for her vision of Tilly.
C: You are a mother, therapist, and storyteller. What aspect of your life inspired this specific book the most?
E: Without a doubt, the inspiration was my daughter Matilda. I aspire to read and tell stories with her the way my father did with my brothers and me, and I am working towards that every day. I am continuously moved and in awe of the magic that happens when we read with children, and I wanted to make something to support that vital connection.
C: What's next for you?
E: I’d love to make more books and create a Tilly Wise series. I’ve enjoyed the ‘let’s see what happens’ mindset and am continuously inspired by the creativity of my readers. I can’t be sure but I suspect Tilly wouldn’t mind some new adventures either.

Find your own copy of Tilly and the Sleepyhead Sun