Local author Erin Harrington writes children’s books that address such universal themes as loss, coping, and community.
Q&A by Maureen Kingsley
Writer and mother of three Erin Harrington has published three children’s books, the most recent of which addresses life during the coronavirus pandemic. Here she shares her background, her inspiration, and some details of her collaboration with illustrator Yana Zybina.
The El Segundo Scene (TESS): What is your background, and how long have you lived in El Segundo?
Erin Harrington (EH; pictured at right): I was born in Georgia. My father was in the Army and we moved around a lot. I spent the majority of my childhood in Toms River, New Jersey. I am 100% a Jersey Girl at heart. I went to Lafayette College in Pennsylvania and NYU in New York City. I lived most of my twenties in New York City, and after the loss of a dear friend I decided to take the plunge and move across the country to Los Angeles. I have lived in El Segundo for the past ten years. It is a wonderful place to raise a family.
TESS: Describe your personal history as a writer and what you love about writing.
EH: I have been writing since I was a little girl. I was always in a creative writing class of some sort. I absolutely love the beauty of words. I like the power of a statement. The motivation in a quote. Writing and storytelling is a way to escape, dream, imagine, and create adventure in life. My children inspired me to create children’s books. Raising children to be kind, aware, compassionate, and present is not an easy task. I want to spread that positivity through my children’s books. Awareness is key.
TESS: What books have you published so far, and what are they about?
EH: I have three children’s books published right now. Goodbye Goldfish was my first. The Mighty Wish and The Quarantine Kid are my other two. The Quarantine Kid is obviously extremely relevant in today’s current situation. It is a beautiful book about coping, understanding, and realizing that we are all in this together. I definitely will keep writing books that help build character and kindness, and portray messages of hope.
TESS: Where do the concepts and themes of your books originate?
EH: The themes come to me as I tell my own children stories or while explaining different aspects of life to them. Their own goldfish passed away, and I was trying to explain loss to them. Seeing their pain in coping with the loss and trying to comprehend it inspired me to create that story. The Mighty Wish was created during the fall while explaining to my children that they are beyond blessed and fortunate and that not everyone in the world is that lucky. All of the characters are based on my children. Izzy in Goodbye Goldfish was created for my daughter Isabel, and Addy in The Quarantine Kid is modeled after my five-year-old, Addis. I have yet to write a book for my son, but it will happen.
TESS: How did you find your illustrator, and what was that collaboration like?
EH: The illustrator! This was the hardest aspect for me, because I had a vision of what I wanted the illustrations to look like, and everyone that I received samples from just didn’t quite fulfill that vision. I searched for weeks, if not months, and I even tried drawing the illustrations myself. I finally found a website called Fiverr and found Yana Zybina. She is a Russian-based illustrator, and she is brilliant. Her work has so much love and creativity in it. We emailed proofs back and forth, and when I approved them and we decided on illustrations, she would finalize them. It took months of collaborating to make each book perfect. She is a wonderful person, and she is incredible to work with.
TESS: Where can readers find and purchase your books?
EH: My books are available through my website; Amazon; barnesandnoble.com; and mascotbooks.com. I think that all three of my books are best suited for ages three to twelve. I hope that everyone who reads them finds the underlying message of love and kindness that is intended.
Erin Harrington is a writer living in El Segundo with her husband and three children.
This story appears in the May 2021 issue of The El Segundo Scene.