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Interview with Stephanie Wildman & Estefanía Razo about BREATH BY BREATH

Interview by Julie Damerell

Stephanie Wildman, author of TREASURE HUNT (2022) (ill. Estefania Razo) and BRAVE IN THE WATER (2021) (illo. Jenni Feidler-Aguilar) became a Professor Emerita after serving as John and Elizabeth Sutro Chair at Santa Clara Law. She is a grandmother, mother, spouse, friend, and good listener who can sit “criss-cross apple sauce” thanks to her yoga practice. To learn more about Stephanie, see her website, Instagram, X (Twitter), Bluesky.

Estefanía Razo is an illustrator and graphic designer from Mexico. Learning about illustration has been Estefanía’s passion since she was a child. See more about this talented illustrator on Instagram and Behance.

(Spanish version, Respiro a Respiro, will be out May 2024)
Author: Stephanie Wildman
Illustrator: Estefanía Razo
Publisher: Lawley Publishing
Publication date: January 23, 2024

Synopsis: In this bedtime story, twins Flor and Roberto wonder how they can possibly go on an adventure at the same time as they go to sleep. Big brother Luis guides them in an exercise through their bodies, from the top of their heads to the tips of their toes. Following the gentle inhale and exhale of their breath, Flor and Roberto find love and calm inside and all around them as they drift off to sleep. Bonus content provides direction for mapping your own body scan.

Preorder Breath by Breath through Linden Tree in Los Altos, CA and receive a signed, personalized copy! Stephanie will be reading at the store with author Christine Evans on Sunday, February 4 at 11 a.m. You can also find the book wherever you normally buy books.

Q. How was BREATH BY BREATH created?  

Stephanie: I have wanted to write a bedtime story with a body scan for a long time. I have an active yoga practice, and I introduced the idea of pranayama in my first book, BRAVE IN THE WATER (illustrated by Jenni Feidler-Aguilar). With TREASURE HUNT and Estefania’s incredible illustrations, I saw an opportunity to bring back those twins Flor and Roberto and big brother Luis. Having twins solved the problem of how to portray two arms and two legs as part of the body scan, and the story for BREATH BY BREATH evolved. And of course I hope this story isn’t only for bedtime, but is also useful for the many teachers and classrooms that recognize the importance of breathing exercises to concentration – so many schools include yoga sessions in their curriculum.

Q. What do you hope young readers will take away from your book?.

Stephanie: I hope young readers have fun with the characters, but I also hope they feel the calmness when they practice breathing with the twins at bedtime.

Estefanía: I would love for meditation to be part of a bedtime routine for young readers, so they will have a more peaceful night. I’m sure Luis and the twins will be the perfect teachers.

Q. What advice do you have for young writers and illustrators? 

Stephanie: I consider myself a “young” writer at age 74, because I only started writing for children at age 69. But my older self did understand that rejection is a part of writing, not to mention a part of life. I acknowledge that it’s never easy; of course I prefer acceptance. But you have to put yourself out there. Even when a book is accepted, there are many chances to be rejected – someone says “no” to a blurb or no to a review or no to carrying your book. This business is full of opportunities for rejection, so start embracing them early on. Rejection means you are writing – a place to find joy.

Estefanía: I think this can be applied to every profession. If you love what you do, don’t hesitate to pursue it. Keep learning despite your age, previous experiences, or unflattering opinions. Nothing is easy at first, but when your work comes from the heart, everything gets easier. And when you see the final result in your hands, you’ll realize everything has been worth it. 

Q. What are you excited about now? 

Stephanie: We have just seen the final page proofs for RESPIRO A RESPIRO, the Spanish language version of BREATH BY BREATH. I love Estefanía’s illustrations. I’m a word person, but I am reminded anew at what a difference the melding of words and illustrations can make, creating a true joint authorship and a special magic.

Estefanía:  Something that always makes me happy is to buy new illustrated books. I always try to get at least one per month, I really enjoy reading them and looking deeply at each illustration. Also, I love my small library because there’s always something new that I can lend to my nieces who have become young readers.

Listen to Stephanie read TREASURE HUNT to meet the characters in BREATH BY BREATH. You can also meet them in this episode of ‘Lessons from the Classroom‘ with Mr. C (John Castellarin)
Cover reveal of BREATH BY BREATH.
Gina Soldano’s Author Spotlight: Stephanie Wildman, author of Brave In The Water
Stephanie Wildman’s Journey Into Children’s Books (The American Law Institute)

Also see other Interviews with Book Creators and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators.