A Conversation with Sophia R. Klein
Ohioana is excited to welcome author Sophia R. Klein as part of the Ohioana Book Festival this year. Sophia is our youngest-ever festival author, at just fourteen years old. She was motivated to write and illustrate her book, Turtle Tide, by her love of marine life. Her fascination with the sea began at the age of seven when she watched the Dolphin Tale films and learned the inspirational stories of the dolphins, Winter and Hope. She has since journeyed each summer to Clearwater Marine Aquarium in Florida to attend camps to learn about marine life and aspires to make working on the preservation of marine life part of her future.
Q: Sophia, there aren’t many people who can say they’ve written and illustrated their own book, especially at the young age of fourteen! How did the book come to be?
Sophia Klein: This originally started from my Gifted English class in 2020. We had a CCP assignment where we had two to three months to come up with a project that would have an end product. I wanted to incorporate my art into the project while still doing something I’ve never accomplished before. That’s when I decided to do a children’s book. I did ten illustrations within the hundred-page book and could have done more, but I was on a timeline. Plus, I love reading all genres of books and wanted to see what I could do when coming up with my own story.
Q: Turtle Tide is an inspirational story about a young sea turtle. How did you come up with the story?
SK: My little brother, who is now eight, was the main inspiration for my book. About seven years ago, my fascination with dolphins and other marine animals began, and after that, my brother fell in love with sea turtles. Green sea turtles were his favorite, ergo Tide the green sea turtle became the main character. Even one of the humans (or “no-fins” as Tide calls them) is named Caleb, after my brother. The book’s events, such as Tide’s rescue or the other turtles he meets later in the story, are based on real life turtles, dolphins, and other resident animals at Clearwater Marine Aquarium, a rescue facility near Tampa Florida, and home of the Dolphin Tale movies. They currently have eleven residential turtles and many of their life stories are incorporated into the character’s life story.
Q: Have you always been an illustrator? Tell us a little about your illustration process.
SK: As long as I could ever remember, I loved drawing and art in any form, my main focus in my own art being marine animals. My process for drawing any animal usually starts with studying an animal’s anatomy and skeletal structure to make any of the animal’s poses and proportions look natural and realistic. Then with Turtle Tide being a children’s book, I sometimes pushed proportions such as turtle shells and eyes to give the characters an animated look. I had limited time for the illustrations, so I would sketch the characters in pencil on paper then scan it into an art program to color in so it could look more professional.
Q: Your biography says you would like to continue to study marine life – do you intend to become a marine biologist? Do you think we will see more adventures of Tide and his friends someday?
SK: I am currently hoping to take on a career as a marine animal veterinarian. I felt that this book would help express my interests in marine biology, as everything (except for talking turtles) is based on fact. At the moment I have no plans for any sequel to Turtle Tide, but I am currently working on a new writing project. This does not mean it’s impossible for me to make a sequel in the future, but it is just not something I am working on at the moment.
Q: What would you say to other kids who might want to write a book someday?
SK: As one of the youngest authors to get to participate in the Ohioana Book Festival, I hope for that to be an inspiration for any young artists and writers that they can express their ideas and stories as well.
Thank you to Sophia R. Klein for this interview. You can buy Sophia’s book, Turtle Tide, at www.bookloft.com . Check out our “Author Content” page for more about Sophia (page coming April 22 at 7pm), and enjoy the rest of the 2021 Ohioana Book Festival, this weekend, April 22 – April 25.