Now that the whirling debut dust has settled, Lui Sit invites Jesse Kaur to talk about one thing she's learnt since becoming a published author.

In May 2023, my dual-language debut picture book, When Nani, When? was published in twenty-five languages - ten years after I wrote it. It was the first of many books I have written in the past decade. Through attending picture book courses, joining critique groups and being part of writing organisations, my craft developed. One thing I have learnt over this year is that this book is the one that I needed to share with the world the most, for this one is about my experience.


In the story, Jaya discovers that Nani has a cherry tree. She asks for cherries, expecting immediate growth. What she gets is a lesson in patience. Each season, Nani’s rhyming responses to Jaya’s disappointment are informative of the reason behind each season. The landscape changes, reflecting Jaya’s emotional journey; her initial fear that the tree has died in winter to the hope of spring blossom and, eventually, the joy of harvest.

I heard once that there is something very special about an author’s first book because that is the story they need to tell the world. I feel this is very true for me. I have had to wait for such a long time. In the waiting, I have changed. Like Jaya, I have had to learn to enjoy and appreciate the journey and not simply strive towards the end destination. Post-publication, I have learnt this even more because I now realise the end is never the end. Even when prayers are answered, and we get what we want, there are a new set of stresses and strains that come. Organising events, selling books, marketing, publicity, networking etc. And of course there is always the thought of becoming a ‘one hit wonder.’


Initially, I thought I’d be happy if just one book of mine was published, but now I want more! Yet before this, I thought, was publication really my goal? Was it why I wrote? No. What really made me tingle was being able to express my inner thoughts, whether they were delightful or difficult, in a way that made me appreciate the power of words in freeing me and helping me make sense of life and the world.


The real joy comes from putting pen to paper, finding out what’s within, doing something well, realising you have talent and are getting better with practice. That is the ‘no place like home’ feeling that comes from writing. Having said all this, it was really special to see my book on the shelf in my library and posters advertising my launch.



My publisher was not organising a book launch, so I had to do my own. I realised quickly that I did not like the idea of talking in front of lots of adults in the way I have seen other people do at their book launches. Being a teacher, talking to children is not a problem but adults... No thanks! After a bit of an internal chat with my alter-ego Dorothy Gale, I thought, if other authors can do it why oh why can’t I?! So with a bit of courage, quick thinking and lots of kind-hearted folk, I was able to organise four smaller get-togethers with family, friends and neighbours as opposed to one big book launch.


My mini launches were in my home. This helped me to manage my nerves and actually enjoy myself rather than worrying about big speeches and that ‘all eyes on me’ feeling. At the end of the day, it is your day and you have to be comfortable. Your book launch doesn’t have to look like everyone else’s.


My general public launch was in my local library and only three parents and six children showed up. It may have looked like a disappointing turnout but it was a great opportunity to run through my author talk and book-read in front of a few people that were not family and friends. For me it was perfect.


I made a mental note, though, not to do author talks in the last week of August when families are out buying uniforms, or on Saturdays at the start of a school holiday and everyone’s having a lie in. Oh, and not when it’s raining! 

Jesse demonstrating the audio pen


To summarise what I have learnt is that the dreams you dare to dream, really (can) come true. Remember, I am not agented and yet my book is traditionally published.The needle in the haystack can be found. I have learnt the truth of these words, ‘Patience produces character and character produces hope and hope does not disappoint.’ The outcome may not look how you envisaged but the perseverance will keep you moving and lead somewhere… over the rainbow.

*Header image: Ell Rose and Tita Berredo
*Photos courtesy of Jesse Kaur


Lui Sit writes MG, non-fiction, adult short stories, and memoir. She is agented by Becky Bagnell of Lindsay Literary Agency. Find her on X, Instagram and on her website.


Ell Rose is the Illustration Features Editor of Words & Pictures. Find their work at Follow them on Instagram and X. Contact them at

Tita Berredo is the Illustrator Coordinator of SCBWI British Isles and the Art Director of Words & Pictures. Follow her on Instagram and X or Contact her at:

Anne Boyere is one of Words & Pictures' Feature Editors and runs the #SCBWIchat X chat about books for all ages @SCBWI_BI. You can find her on X.

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