Isabelle Marinov - The Lion & Dragonfly Interview
The Boy Whose Head was Filled with Stars, a gorgeous picture book about the life of Edwin Hubble, is quite simply a treasure. We were thrilled that Isabelle Marinov took the time to share a bit about how this book came to be, her creative process, and her insights about what makes a great children's picture book. Please take a moment to dive in to this interview and enjoy!
Can you tell us what inspired you to write The Boy Whose Head was Filled with Stars, a biography about astronomer Edwin Hubble?
I stumbled upon Edwin’s biography by chance when I was researching another story, and I became instantly fascinated by him - both by his strong desire to pursue his dreams of becoming an astronomer and by his discoveries that completely changed our place in the universe.
When I was working on the manuscript, most of the people I talked to thought that he was somehow involved in the construction of the Hubble telescope - which is not true, the telescope is only named after him. Edwin Hubble has redefined our place in the cosmos, and yet he remains largely unknown. That’s when I knew that I had to write this book.
What is your favorite page of this book and why?
The gatefold that illustrates Hubble’s first discovery. Before Edwin Hubble, it was thought that our galaxy, the Milky Way, was the entire universe. Edwin found the proof that the Milky Way is just a speck of dust in this unbelievably vast universe…It’s an incredible shift in perspective. Deborah Marcero, the illustrator, has captured this moment so well - it still gives me goosebumps.
What do you hope your audience takes away from reading The Boy Whose Head was Filled with Stars?
The Milky Way is just one among 50 billion galaxies in the visible universe. It is an awe inspiring and humbling thought. It is this idea of a cosmic perspective that I tried to convey through Edwin’s story.
What inspired you to become an author?
I was a bookworm from an early age on. When I was around nine years old, I started writing my own stories and I loved being completely immersed in the act of writing. I think that’s still the thing that drives my desire to write, this feeling of being in the flow, the intense focus and the complete enjoyment of the act of writing itself. It doesn’t happen every day (sometimes writing is really hard and nothing flows…) but when it does, it is the best feeling in the world.
What do you think are the ingredients for a great children’s book?
I think as an author, whatever genre you write in, you have to passionate about your story, otherwise there is no emotion. Readers need to feel that emotion on the page, they need to empathize with your character, whether your character is a rabbit or a box of crayons.
For me, that’s the most important point.
Don’t preach. Surprise the reader. Make them laugh and cry. Change their perspective and open their imagination to new possibilities.
What’s been the most surprising thing about being a children’s author?
I like to write across genres and age groups, so I don’t see myself as a children’s book author only. But what I found most surprising is how much I enjoy school visits. The energy the kids give me and the connections we make, it’s something I never thought possible.
What is your favorite place to write?
I mostly write at home, in my office, surrounded by books, with a cup of Japanese green tea. I need total silence and privacy to write - writing in coffee shops or libraries doesn’t work for me, I get too distracted.
What are you currently working on?
I recently finished the edits for my first middle grade novel, Boy Underground (publication date: early 2023) and I am currently working on my second novel. I am also working on new picture book projects with Enchanted Lion Books and with Templar Books in the UK. And I just finished the screenplay for my picture book Leo and the Octopus which will be made into an animated movie.