Hello, Mae Respicio! Happy, happy Friday! I’m thrilled you dropped by to finish my sentences and to share The House That Lou Built’s cover.
Mae Respicio: Hooray! Thanks so much for hosting me, Mr. Schu! I’m beyond thrilled to officially share my debut middle grade novel with everyone.
Katrina Damkoehle’s cover design and Luisa Uribe’s cover illustration for The House That Lou Built beautifully captures the spirit of this book. It features a strong, smart, and fiercely determined twelve-year-old girl, front and center, surrounded by her family and friends. Add to that her dream DIY project: to build her own tiny house. It’s the perfect cover for my novel, and I’m grateful to Katrina and Luisa for bringing Lou to life in such a delightful way!
Lou Bulosan-Nelson’s family is a large, lovable, and close-knit Filipino American family. Lou lives with her mom and her “lola” (grandmother) in a small house in San Francisco. She has a ton of cousins and relatives popping in and out of their home constantly, which is part of the reason why she longs for a space of her own. Still, Lou’s family is her rock and ultimately, they play a huge role in her journey of self-discovery.
I loved writing about Lou’s family because it helped me to weave in aspects of Filipino American culture. Growing up, I never saw myself in any of the books that I read. Even when I became a parent, I still had trouble finding kids’ literature with a Filipina American protagonist. This novel looks at the Filipino American culture via a family going about their everyday lives, and I’m so excited to share that with readers.
I think San Francisco is a colorful city for kids to explore, and it’s where much of the book takes place. Lou and her friends get into all kinds of adventures in their neighborhood; they also make trips north over the Golden Gate Bridge to Lou’s building site, a small plot of land she inherited after her dad passed away. As a kid, I always thought of San Francisco as a magical place—from the thick, summertime fog, to picturesque views of the bay, to tons of interesting people walking around—all amid ornate Victorian houses packed onto steep, rolling streets. It’s a fun setting to write about.
I hope The House That Lou Built inspires readers to go after their dreams no matter how big (or tiny!).
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School libraries are essential. They’re full of ideas and possibilities and can be like home to kids—I can’t imagine my childhood without them. Now, I do a lot of my writing and revising in public libraries, though my favorites are the ones that blend in community events (I’ve met some great authors this way!). One thing I’m proud of as a parent is how much my kids love libraries, too.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me if I’ve ever built a tiny house. Sadly, I haven’t, but I do consider myself a house enthusiast. (The house I live now in is known as an “Eichler,” and it inspired a whole scene in the book!) I have fun learning about architecture and going on home tours; I’ve even worked on house projects where I got to use cool tools like jackhammers, rototillers, and orbital sanders. So, maybe one day I’ll build my own. For now, I’m happy I got to explore the many themes that emerged from writing about Lou and her dream: how houses can act as sanctuary, how they can define the people who inhabit them, and most of all, what makes a house a true home.
Look for The House That Lou Built on June 12, 2018.