Kari-Lynn Winters is the author of Best Pirate, the feature book in our September Picture Book Box. This is the third book in the series about Augusta the (dog) pirate. The series has received the Rainforest of Reading Award, a Kirkus Review star (both for Bad Pirate) and a glowing New York Times review (for Good Pirate). Kari-Lynn is from St. Catharines, Ontario.

MARMALADE BOOKS (MB): When did you know you wanted to be a writer? Did you have anyone to inspire and encourage you?

KARI-LYNN WINTERS (KLW): I came to know that I wanted to be a writer (late to the game) when I was 30 years old. I was inspired by a creative writing course at UBC (University of British Columbia), and especially by my professors, Alison Acheson, Judith Saltman, and Theresa Rogers, as well as by my writing groups.

MB: You are a mother, playwright, poet, school presenter, associate professor at Brock University (have I left anything out?!) not to mention the author of twenty-five books published over the past 10 years. How on earth do you manage to do it all?!

KLW: My passion is writing and performing. My purpose is to share literacy strategies and write engaging stories for children. Both my passion and my purpose lead a pathway to my goal—to continue presenting to children and to make a positive difference in the world. Thus, to state it plainly, I CAN’T NOT write, perform, and teach. Aside from my family and loved ones, literacy is the most important aspect of my life.

MB: You also enjoy travelling. What was your favourite trip and why?

KLW: I love traveling to the Caribbean, because this exotic place relates to (and even looks like Dean’s illustrations in) the pirate books. My favourite trip was to St. Lucia for the Rainforest of Reading Festival. Here, 8,000 students came out—many of them dressed like pirates. What an ARR-some event!

MB: How old are your children? What do they think about having an award-winning author for a mom?

KLW: My son is 17. My daughter is 12. Although they get tired of me asking them to listen and re-listen to my stories (draft copies), I think that they are secretly proud of their mom. At one point, my daughter wanted to be an author—Just like me!

MB: Teachers have raved about your entertaining school presentations. Do you have a fun story about a memorable school visit?   

KLW: Teachers are notorious for volunteering their teacher friends during my performances. I always try to choose the nominator, not the nominee. Then everyone laughs, including the nominator him/herself.

MB: I’ve been a big fan of your pirate series – Bad Pirate, Good Pirate and now Best Pirate. Each book is full of fabulous pirate lingo and explores three characteristics of being a successful pirate. Can you tell us a bit about your process to create the books? It must have been great fun.  

KLW: It is great fun! Partially because I love the characters and partially because I love working with Dean (illustrator Dean Griffiths) and the people at Pajama Press. My process is different with every single book. Some ideas come to me quickly. Others take longer. Once the story is drafted and I am happy with it, I send it to my incredible editor Ann Featherstone. What a talent she is! Alongside, Gail Winskill (another incredible talent), these two women make edits and recommendations for the manuscript. I use their suggestions to strengthen the story, to pose questions, and to better understand a reader’s perspective. Then, when I am happy with the changes that I’ve made, I send the edited manuscript back to them.When approved, the story and the illustrations are put together by Rebecca Bender (yet another incredible talent). It’s a cooperative process, but I rarely talk to Dean Griffiths (the illustrator) until after the book is published. This is because many publishers like to let each creative person (author and illustrator) have their own creative vision. I absolutely adore Dean’s work!


My thanks to Kari-Lynn for this interview. It has been a pleasure to get to know more about this very talented woman and her passion for children’s literacy.

  • The first book in this series, Bad Pirate is included in our Pirate Box. You will find this box located on the Special Boxes page of our website.