Interview with SWIM, JIM! debut image guide creator/illustrator, Kaz Windness

Written and illustrated by Kaz Windness
Printed by Simon & Schuster / Paula Wiseman Books


Jim the crocodile is afraid of swimming—or slightly, of sinking. His household’s swamp is simply too deep, too darkish, and too massive. However perhaps he might swim, if solely there have been a smaller swamp the place he might strive it on his personal phrases. Jim wiggle-waggles far and huge till he finds the proper place. With the assistance of some floaties and his sisters, Jim simply may discover the braveness to face his worry and present everybody—together with himself—that Jim can swim!

Kaz: SWIM, JIM! was impressed by true occasions. A person in Key Largo, Florida was on his balcony and noticed a crocodile swimming throughout a canal ontop of a yellow pool noodle. He took an image of the croc and the story was printed within the information. I noticed the article, drew my model of a crocodile who was afraid of the water, and despatched the drawing to my agent, Timothy Travaglini, Transatlantic Company. He informed me to put in writing the story, so I did!

Kaz: My profession journey might be summarized as “play the lengthy recreation.” I’ve been pursuing my ardour of writing and illustrating kids’s books my complete life.

So far as SWIM, JIM!, I wrote the story in a few month after which drew a small, tough model of what the guide might appear to be (a dummy guide) to go along with it. My agent despatched the pattern guide out to a number of editors. We received quite a lot of rejections at first– they both preferred the artwork however not the writing or the writing and never the artwork, so we needed to hold going till we discovered an editor who beloved each. 

After round six months, I had all however given up on SWIM, JIM! discovering a house, once we all the sudden acquired a number of presents on the similar time. My first image guide was in public sale! 

Working with Catherine Laudone and Laurent Linn at Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books has been a dream come true, and we’re at the moment engaged on our second guide collectively– BITSY BAT, SCHOOL STAR (2023).    

Kaz: As a result of I draw in addition to write, I bounce backwards and forwards between pondering in phrases and pondering in photos. I do quite a lot of sketching and imagining, and sometimes the story will seem in my doodles first. I all the time knew Jim would find yourself in a human pool – the enjoyable of seeing a crocodile in pool floaties got here from my sketching and from the unique inspiration. Jim’s story has a basic three act construction, so as soon as I found out what Jim’s downside was, what he needed to realize, and all the primary plot factors in between, I might write the story, going backwards and forwards between writing and drawing. I’m a plotter, not a pantser– somebody who writes with out a lot pre-planning, however I do quite a lot of revision and enhancing and love when inspiration strikes and I consider a greater story resolution. 

I’m additionally extremely fortunate to have a superb editor that noticed the promise of little Jim and helped me give attention to his worry of the water and develop the significant relationship Jim has together with his household. Catherine has a particular expertise for working with somebody who’s extra of an illustrator (me!) and serving to their tales shine. 

Kaz: I hope Jim’s story conjures up younger readers to face their fears– in their very own approach and in their very own time. Writing Jim’s story has helped me face my worry of the water, a lot so, I’m going to discover ways to swim this summer season! I’m not embarrassed to make use of my floaties, however I’m feeling braver and I’m able to swim by myself. Like Jim, so long as I’ve my family and friends by my aspect, there’s nothing I can’t do.

Kaz: Youngsters’s books is a profession that requires a deep and abiding ardour. It’s not like within the motion pictures the place you have got a guide thought in the future and get an enormous guide deal the next week and save the household farm from foreclosures. SWIM, JIM! is my debut image guide, and I’ve been out of artwork faculty for 20 years this summer season. It’s additionally not the sort of cash that saves the farm. However it’s a profession that saves children (books saved me!) so it’s price being persistent– however provided that it’s one thing you may’t not do. Should you can’t give up, hold going. Your breakthroughs are coming!    

My recommendation for illustrators is solid a bigger internet for artwork inspiration. Whereas it’s essential to be on social media and likewise devour kids’s literature, particularly latest publications, if we solely look Instagram and different image books, we’re simply stylistically regurgitating what’s already been carried out. Go to the museum. Get impressed by musical theatre. Fall down the rabbit gap of Victorian vogue or hip-hop music or cave work. You might be standing on the artistic shoulders of hundreds of years of artists and its a proud and inspiration-rich heritage. That may all turns into compost and fertile floor to attract inspiration from.   

Kaz: In case you are within the northern Colorado space on

You can too enter my SWIM, JIM! Weblog Tour giveaway! (U.S. solely) To enter: remark, retweet or tag a buddy, and make sure by way of this Rafflecopter kind.

In different information, I’m beginning a sophisticated on-line kids’s guide illustration faculty later this 12 months with some very proficient and profitable author-illustrators known as the Cuddlefish Academy, so please look ahead to that! 

Additionally, please look out for upcoming 2023 books: WORM AND CATERPILLAR ARE FRIENDS (Simon Highlight) and BITSY BAT, SCHOOL STAR (Paula Wiseman Books) + extra within the works! Yow will discover me at and comply with me on all of your favourite social media.

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Additionally see different interviews with guide creators in addition to a compilation of recommendation for younger writers and illustrators from interviewees.