Q: What inspired you to write Milo's Moonlight Mission?
A: The story was inspired by a personal experience I had with my family around 20 years ago. We had heard about a forecasted meteor storm, and given that the skies were expected to be clear, the viewing was predicted to be spectacular.
I have always loved taking in the night skies. When I was a little girl, my family spent summer vacations in the Adirondack Mountains. We’d go for walks at night, when all you could see was the sky above. There was no light pollution, so those star-studded skies have stuck with me.
That’s why we didn’t miss a beat when we heard about the Leonid Meteor Storm that inspired Milo’s Moonlight Mission. The Leonids occur every November, and I live in western New York, so we bundled up for the cold and went outside at 4AM.
I never wanted to forget what we’d seen, so the next morning, I began writing about it, not as a story at first, more so simply notes on the experience.
Q: What do you think Petronela Dostalova's illustrations add to the story?
A: Petronela’s illustrations enhance the multi-dimensional character of Milo. And Mom. She invites us into Milo’s vivid imagination, just as Milo invites Mom into his world.
I absolutely love what her art adds to the story. He is a patient, helpful child, which can be gleaned from the text. But Petronela amplified his passion for outer space, by bringing his imagination to the page.
Q: Did you need to do any research to write the book, and did you learn anything surprising?
A: Yes, I researched what meteors are and learned the difference between a meteor shower and a meteor storm. It’s all in the numbers! A staff member at our local planetarium reviewed the Author’s Note to ensure its accuracy. I learned how rare the type of storm we saw is and how fortunate we were to witness it!
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book, about space and about family?
A: I hope that the story sparks kids’ curiosity. And that with our imaginations, we can soar! I hope that a sense of community and helping one another, even if that community is within the parameters of our own homes, comes through.
With a little patience and cooperation, our Milo got what he wanted—precious time spent with his mom. And she got what she wanted, too—quiet time with her child, enjoying the wonders of nature.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m working on a lyrical picture book centered on my Italian heritage and starting to explore a picture book with a conservation slant. And always revising pieces I think are “finished.”
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: For readers and writers, and anyone, really, who has a dream, keep at it! If you stick with it long enough, along the way there will be disappointments, but there will likely be the joy in having worked hard to reach your goals.
And in our busy world, if you think you don’t have time for someone, right now, think about that again. These moments of connection don’t have to be elaborate or long in duration. They just have to be.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Kathleen M. Blasi.