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Interview: Miss Kaye talks about Guess How Marion Feels

Updated: Feb 9

Miss Kaye is the pen name for Karen Tolentino who was born in the Philippines. Inspired by her challenges as a neurodivergent, she began the journey of writing fun, engaging, and educational stories on life hacks and mindfulness for children.

Tell us a little about Guess How Marion Feels. 

Guess How Marion Feels aims to cultivate a child's emotional intelligence at an early development stage. Through physical cues, the book would like to guide parents and kids on understanding their emotions and understand others' emotions too. 

What inspired you to write this book? 

Conveying emotions used to be a hurdle for me. I remember as a kid, my family and I were watching a talent show. While a contestant was singing, my mum said, 'Oh I knew she wouldn't be picked.' To which I skeptically replied, 'How did you know?' Right after that, my mum bluntly exclaimed that she knew based on the judges' facial expressions. I had my attempts on the succeeding contestants but I would fail while most in our family would be right (thanks to her tip). I then had a hunch that I might be a little peculiar.

What was your routine or process when writing this book? 

My creative process is more of going with the flow with a target deadline. I would describe it as walking in a garden... picking plants and flowers that inspire me. Heading back to a studio and then creating a bouquet based on the message I want to share with the world. Everything is within the timeframe I set. 

How did you work with the illustrator? 

I love giving the illustrator the freedom to put their creative flare in the story. The cat, Coco, is my illustrator's idea based on her real cat pet. However, since the book is particular about facial expressions, we had intensive back-and-forth conversations so we could bring the main essence of the book to life.

If a soundtrack was made to accompany this book, name a song or two you would include. 

I would say Man In The Mirror by Michael Jackson. Guess How Marion Feels is an interactive book to understand our emotions and others' emotions. If we want to see more kindness, then we should be kind. Such could only be done if we have self-awareness and awareness of our surroundings. It all starts with ourselves (as the first step).

What did you enjoy the most about writing this book? 

I hugely enjoy the part of knowing and getting to know and work with so many amazing people. They are a huge part of making this book possible.

What did you do to celebrate finishing Guess How Marion Feels? 

I haven't celebrated yet but after the launch, I would treat myself to a holiday.

What is the favourite book you have read so far this year and why? 

Gardens are for Growing by Chelsea Tornetto. I have been raving about this book because the writing style for a picture book is absolutely an art. It's poetic yet enjoyable and relatable for a dad and a daughter. I'd say it is one of a kind.

What’s next on the agenda for you? 

I am working on some different manuscripts at the moment. One of them is a story to shed a layer of depth from Guess How Marion Feels. Let's see how it will go. 



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