Episode 421: From Essays to Picture Books: Applying Tools of the Craft Across Genres and Forms – Interview with Patrice Gopo

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Patrice Gopo. We’ll discuss themes in picture books and her book All the Places We Call Home.

Have you signed up to be a DIY MFA Radio Insider yet? This is an exciting new monthly newsletter, especially for our podcast listeners. Every month, you’ll get an email from our podcast producer with recaps of the most recent episodes, a curated Listening List of episodes on a particular theme, and other fun goodies we only share via email. Best of all, it’s free to join! The theme for August is Middle Grade, and you can become an insider by signing up with your email at diymfa.com/insiders.

In this episode Patrice Gopo and I discuss:

  • Leaving room in your writing for your illustrator to heighten the story.
  • Recognizing the themes that reappear in your life and your work.
  • How to turn an emotionally resonant image into a whole story.

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Patrice Gopo

Patrice Gopo is the child of Jamaican immigrants and was born and raised in Anchorage, Alaska. She is an award-winning essayist and the author of All the Colors We Will See: Reflections on Barriers, Brokenness, and Finding Our Way (a Fall 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection). Her ties to Jamaica and other parts of the world sparked her early desire to travel to the cities and countries she traced on a globe. In time, as she began writing about her experiences, Patrice became interested in how places contribute to the people we become. Ultimately, she hopes her stories celebrate the beauty of living a multifaceted life. Patrice lives with her family in North Carolina—a place she considers another home. All the Places We Call Home is her first picture book.

You can find her on her website, subscribe to her newsletter, or follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

All the Places We Call Home

Fall in love with this lyrically written and lushly illustrated exploration of identity and home that celebrates all the places and people who make us who we are.

“And where shall we go?” Mama asks as she tucks me in.

“South Africa. Where I was born.”

My answer summons Mama’s stories, stories that send us soaring back in time to when I was a baby. Out my window. Down my street. Across water. Across continents.

Where do you come from? Where does your family come from? For many children, the answers to these questions can transform a conversation into a journey around the globe.

In her first picture book, author Patrice Gopo illuminates how family stories help shape children, help form their identity, and help connect them with the broader world. Her lyrical language, paired with Jenin Mohammed’s richly textured artwork, creates a beautiful, stirring portrait of a child’s deep ties to cultures and communities beyond where she lays her head to sleep.

Ultimately, this story speaks a truth that all children need to hear: The places we come from are part of us, even if we can’t always be near them. All the Places We Call Home is a quiet triumph that encourages an awakening to our own stories and to the stories of those around us.

If you decide to check out the book, we hope you’ll do so via this Bookshop.org affiliate link, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you, and you get to support independent bookstores! As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 421

(Right-click to download.)

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Until next week, keep writing and keep being awesome!

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