Little L & Ms. Violet Kay

October 15, 2015

book cover2

Lisa O’Brien is an entrepreneur, animal lover, artist, and (most recently) a children’s author. “Ms. Violet Kay” is the name of her new literary persona and “Little L” is her first creation. With dogged determination, I was able to track down the enigmatic O’Brien to question her about her new creation, pen names, and the time she was mistaken for a ghost.

JCT: Little L is a wild- eyed girl with a head full of wonder and unruly red hair. I get the impression that she is modeled after someone is particular. It’s me, right?

VK: It is you, yes. When you were a little girl, you were always running around with a noggin loaded with whimsical stories and lovable imaginary friendly monsters.

JCT: I’ll be expecting royalties, of course. But, for serious, I’ve know you for a while now, I’ll even be bold and call us “friends.” I was excited and surprised to learn that you wrote a kid’s book. However did you arrive at this point?

VK: Since we’re “friends,” I’ll tell you. I have actually been interested in writing books for children for many years. As you know, I’ve always been a painter and drawer of weird shenanigans. I completed all the illustrations for this particular book over a decade ago. The drawings for this story are sort of a love letter to my childhood; all the details point to something from my early life. Little L is wearing my favorite outfit from my preschool years. The strawberry pattern on the walls in some of the illustrations was the pattern of wallpaper in our kitchen. I still have Barney the Bear, in fact. However, when I initially completed all the illustrations, I couldn’t get the story out in a concise, meaningful way. I found myself just going on and on about inside jokes and things that no one but my family and I would understand. During the next several years, I ended up opening a vintage clothing boutique, then closing the store, then opening the store online, then closing that. Finally, I was once again focusing on my artwork. One day, I found those drawings of Little L. Suddenly the story I wanted to write fit together and made sense. I am now busily and happily working on not only another Little L story, but several others with different casts of characters, ranging in reading levels from first reader through about a 5th grave level. By the way, thanks for being excited about my book. I like you.

Ms. Violet Kay (a.k.a. Lisa O'Brien) at her recent book signing at Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA. photo: Christine Chiu

Ms. Violet Kay (a.k.a. Lisa O’Brien) at her recent book signing at Moravian Book Shop in Bethlehem, PA. photo: Christine Chiu

JCT: Same, same. I’ve always known you as Lisa O’Brien, good-humoured fahionista and artiste. Who is this Ms. Violet Kay character?

VK: Good question. When I paint, I sign my work “Lisa.” But for my writing, I wanted a name that stood out and that had some special significance to my life. The name “Violet Kay” honors my grandmother Violet. She was the original cantankerous redhead, full of sarcasm and silly stories. She had a wicked sense of humor. She stayed creative, writing plays for community theater and drawing hilarious cartoons in the letters she mailed out to family, well into her 90s. When she would write and send her work out to different magazines and publications, she would use the name “Nina Kay.” So I combined part of her real name and part of her pen name to make my own secret identity,which is now no longer a secret thanks to you and I have to kill you.

JCT: Speaking of killing and being dead, there’s some speculation going around that you might actually be a ghost. Care to comment?

VK: Speculation that I might be a ghost? Who told you? I’m not saying it’s true. I could be a ghost or a ghost wearing a human suit or a human wearing a ghost suit, but I’m curious as to where you heard this rumor. You may be referring to the time when I was stopped by a man yelling to me from his truck window when I was walking to my shop, and how he was relieved when I answered him because he “thought I was a ghost because of my old timey clothes and pale skin.” When I suddenly appeared inside his truck next to him, he peed his pants and then I sat on his lap and also peed his pants, but I’m not about to confirm that I’m a ghost.

For more Lisa O’Brien/Ms. Violet Kay, check out her awesome blog or drop by on facebook and say hi.  You can find Little L on Amazon. And she has an Etsy page.