Karen Collum is mother to three beautiful boys, with a baby girl joining the family later this month. She’s passionate about developing optimism in children and empowering them to make a difference in the world.

Karen is visiting Kids’ Book Capers on her blog tour to celebrate the release of her new picture book, Samuel’s Kisses based on real life experiences with her own son, Sam.

Karen, can you tell us what Samuel’s Kisses is about and what age group it’s for?

Samuel’s Kisses is aimed at the pre-school age group (ages 2-5) and captures the beauty and power of a simple act of kindness. When a toddler blows kisses to people he meets, they are transformed in the very best way possible.

What  inspired the story of Samuel’s Kisses?

When my eldest son was two, he had the most delightful habit of blowing kisses to complete strangers while I did the shopping. It always struck me how powerful those kisses were. People who had previously been frowning and cranky would suddenly begin to smile and interact with him. I thought it would make a great story one day…and it did!

You have a son called Samuel (Sam). Can you tell us how you incorporated his story into your book?

Sam is very much the inspiration for the book. Although unlike Samuel in the book, he never actually had anyone juggle or dance because of the kisses he blew, he did have people play peek-a-boo with him or blow him a kiss in return.

How does Sam feel about being involved in the creation of your book?

He is very excited. For a long time he’d ask me to read the text to him but
then ask me when it was going to become a ‘real’ book with pictures.

When I got the final version of the book to look over, I sat down on the couch with
him and read it to him properly for the first time. He was so overjoyed that
it finally had pictures! I’m holding a book launch at his Kinder and he can’t wait for me to read his book to his friends. I think he’s looking forward to being the star of the show for a few minutes.

Apart from the story, does he have any other involvement in the book?

The beautiful little blonde boy in the story is based on my Sam. I was
fortunate enough to be able to send a photo of him when he was two to the
illustrator, Serena Geddes, and she kindly used that as a starting point for
the illustrations.

Do you have any tips for other writers wanting to incorporate real
life into works of fiction?

Anyone who is a parent experiences the joy of their children doing cute things. I think the trick is to work out which of those things hold universal appeal for many people and which ones are unique to your family. Not every cute thing my kids have done would make a good book, but sometimes I have to write the story before I come to that realisation.

Can you tell us how old Sam was when you started writing this story and how old he is now?

I first wrote the story in 2008 when Sam had just turned 2. He’s now 5 1/2
(that half is very important) and is so very grown up. I’m glad I’ve been able to capture him as a toddler in the book.

Have you written or do you have plans to write any books about other family members?

I’d love to write a book for each of my kids and have got a few ideas that are in various stages of development. I have identical twins who are 2 1/2 years old and I’m working on a concept for a picture book at the moment that revolves around the joys and trials of being an identical twin.

I’m also about to have a baby girl and I’d love to write a book for her one day too,
but I think I’ll have to get to know her a little better first. I want the books to reflect the character and nature of my children. I consider it areal privilege to be able to say to Sam, “I wrote this book about you and for you” and I hope I get to do the same with my other kids.

I also have written a picture book that I’m passionate about that deals with
open-heart surgery. Sam had open-heart surgery last year to correct a
congenital heart defect and I’d love to help other children in his situation
to understand what is going to happen to them and why. I think my family
might just be my greatest source of inspiration.

Karen is visiting these great blogs on her tour to talk more about Samuel’s Kisses.

Blog tour dates:
Dec 1: Kathryn Apel http://katswhiskers.wordpress.com/
Dec 2: Kids’ Book Capers
Dec 3: Sheryl Gwyther http://sherylgwyther4kids.wordpress.com/
Dec 4: Serena Geddes http://www.reeni.com.au/books/
Dec 5: Rebecca Newman http://soupblog.wordpress.com/
Dec 6: Susan Stephenson http://www.thebookchook.com/
Dec 7: Katrina Germein http://www.katrinagermein.com/blog/

To read more about Karen’s work visit her website at http://www.karencollum.com.au.

Published by

Dee White

Dee White lives with her husband and two sons in a small rural country town which has more kangaroos than people. She has worked as an advertising copywriter and journalist and has had numerous career changes because until recently, writing wasn’t considered to be a proper job. Letters to Leonardo, her first novel with Walker Books Australia, was published in 2009 to great critical acclaim.


  1. I think Karen totally nailed it here: “I think the trick is to work out which of those things hold universal appeal for many people and which ones are unique to your family.” In fact, I believe that’s the trick for all writers, to see which of our words, images and characters can live outside our heads.

    Thanks, Dee and Karen!

  2. So excited for you Karen. Hooray for 2yr olds kisses, they’re magic. Can’t wait to see what you write up for your twins, mine would be called “weapons of mess and destruction”.

  3. Thanks so much, Dee, for having SAMUEL’S KISSES on your blog today. And thanks for the comments, Book Chook & Natalie. I agree – that’s a great title for a PB about twins, Natalie! I affectionately call my boys the demolition crew 😛

  4. I agree – my family is my greatest inspiration, too. Mostly the like it, though sometimes they look a bit sheepish and make me promise never to write that! (Who me?)

    Great post, girls.

  5. I know what you mean, Kat.

    Mine are not always thrilled when I write about them, but family really does provide fantastic inspiration for stories.


  6. It’s great to learn about Karen’s inspiration for her picture book, ‘Samuel’s Kisses.’ Stories with real life experiences always seem to be the best!

    I like how the illustrations depict real life situations such as lining up at the bank and visiting the shops. Great post!

  7. Huge congrats, Karen!
    I thoroughly enjoyed reading about the original inspiration behind Samuel’s Kisses.
    Laughed when i read your family not always keen on been used as inspiration, Dee and Kat. Bet they would be miffed if they were totally left out.

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