Jukebox Time recently got a chance to interview CA Priest in regard to his new book The Lost Pilot. We got insights into his book, his favorite authors, and much more.
Q. Welcome to Jukebox Time! How are you doing?
I’m fantastic, thanks for asking. The book just came out a few weeks ago and was the number one children’s exploration book and number 11 in kid’s biographies. It seems like it is doing well and people are enjoying it.
Q. Your new book “The Lost Pilot” is now available on Amazon. Please tell us about your amazing book.
The book is available anywhere you buy books, including Amazon. It has been a fun journey to get it published. When I was very little, one of my best friends, a boy named Walter, gave me a copy of The Little Prince – I still have it to this day. I was too young to read it, so my mother read it to me. I became quite obsessed with it and as I grew older, I read it several more times and understood the themes and ideas behind it. The journey of The Little Prince and his devotion to his friends, the rose, the fox, and the narrator, has always resonated with me.
I went on to read pretty much everything Antoine de Saint-Exupéry ever wrote. I’ve stood in front of the apartment complex in New York City where he wrote most of The Little Prince, visited his homes in France, traveled to places he was stationed in the Sahara Desert, and even chartered a boat in the Mediterranean to visit where they found his plane. I think I’ve read three biographies about him and countless articles and profiles. He was a very interesting, creative person, and The Little Prince is one of the greatest books ever published in my opinion.
Several years ago, it was the 75th anniversary of its publication and I had an idea for a sort of homage to it. In The Little Prince, the narrator meets the titular character after he crash lands in the desert, which really happened to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (several times). The narrator tells The Little Prince’s story and reflects on what it means to be friends and love others. Remember, he wrote it during World War II. He was watching firsthand as his nation and other countries were being ripped apart. But still, he found hope.
I wanted to tell the story of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and continue to reflect on friendship and how much love matters. He wrote a book 80 years ago that still to this day means so much to so many people – that’s an amazing phenomenon. He continues to inspire people and for me, that’s what motivates my own creativity.
I was once on top of an enormous dune in the Sahara Desert and it was late at night. I was not far from where he crash-landed and I just started talking as if he was there. I was alone and traveling all by myself. The loneliness was incredible and the enormous desert with nothingness as far as I could see was breath-taking. The stars were magical and enormous, and I realized, he probably saw these same stars. I imagined him just taking off one day in his plane and flying off to reunite with The Little Prince.
I was inspired suddenly and I had Antoine to thank for it. I’ve never forgotten about it. I had the basic idea for the book for a decade and then, when I found it was the anniversary, I decided to finally write and illustrate it – just like he did with The Little Prince.
Q. Any words of advice for aspiring children’s book writers?
Read. The best books inspire and make you want to be creative. They make you want to write or paint or craft or whatever fulfills you. We need to support writers – especially children’s authors – right now. Read more and write more.
Q. Who is your favorite author and why?
It depends on when you ask me. Antoine is high up there. Virginia Woolf is an all-time favorite – her style captures experience so magically. I like Simone de Beauvoir very much. Her book The Mandarins captures Paris in amazing ways and her retelling of Camus and Sartre’s relationship makes you feel like you knew them. I think most writers have a hard time saying who their favorite author is because so many of them have had such significant impacts on you as a creative person. I still recite TS Eliot and Emily Dickinson poems and fall in love with the Glass family every time I read JD Salinger or laugh my way through Katherine Mansfield’s short stories.
Q. What’s next? Which book are you working on now?
I have absolutely no idea, but during the pandemic, I was playing outside with my niece and I asked her what she wanted to play. She seemed frustrated. She shared that there aren’t that many girl superheroes or protagonists. I mentioned Hermione from Harry Potter, and she pointed out the book is called Harry Potter, not Hermione Granger. I said what about Captain Marvel and she said boys at school said she used to be a guy and they didn’t like her anyway. I think I listed off a few more – like Rey from Star Wars – and she had an answer for everyone (Rey is just the girl Luke Skywalker, she said). So, I want to work on something that makes her excited and proud.
Q. Finally, as we ask all our guests on Jukebox Time, do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share with the world and our readers?
Find your inspiration! It’s all that matters. Life is short. Do what you love. We all have to work and devote our time to things that we are not passionate about, so find time to be creative. It doesn’t matter what it is.
I hadn’t painted really in years and years. So, when I decided to write this book, I had to relearn how to paint in watercolors. I had such a fun time and it was something I could do that really made me feel inspired and creative. I give Antoine de Saint-Exupéry credit for that – he inspired me over the years, and I wanted to do the same for others. Use your imagination and turn it into something to inspire others.
About the author: CA Priest is a writer and an artist from the United States. He first read The Little Prince as a small boy when his best friend, Walter, gave him a copy for his birthday. Since then, he’s read it more times than he can remember. He’s read everything Antoine de Saint-Exupéry has ever written, as well as several biographies and articles about the French pilot and author. He really was a travel writer for many years and he has been published in hundreds of literary journals, magazines, publications, and websites.
About the book: In celebration of the 80th anniversary of The Little Prince, Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic children’s story, The Lost Pilot is a full-color, fully illustrated children’s chapter book. Part homage and part biography, The Lost Pilot is an exploration of how books inspire and why imagination is so important.
Order your copy now: The Lost Pilot