Meet the creators of the middle grade graphic novel Go With the Flow, Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann! Lily and Karen share more about their inspiration for this graphic novel, their most memorable teachers and librarians, their favorite childhood books, and more!
When describing Go With the Flow, what’s your elevator pitch?
Lily Williams: Go With The Flow is a story about friendship and high school and all the ups and downs that come along with that… but it’s also about four best friends starting a menstrual revolution.
Karen Schneemann: Four friends navigate high school trig, puberty, crushes and put their friendship to the test, all while trying to topple the patriarchy!
What inspired you to write/illustrate Go With the Flow?
Lily: Menstruation inequity is a huge issue that we don’t talk about because periods are taboo. Yet, every single person who menstruates talks about periods behind closed doors and for those of us (myself included) who struggle with endometriosis and other menstrual issues it needs to be talked about openly. Karen and I basically wanted to take those hushed conversations from our personal experiences and shed light on them.
Karen: Go With The Flow is really the book we wished we had growing up—an engaging story of friendship that illustrates how periods fit into real life. Periods don’t have to be a mysterious burden or a secret shame. We wanted to show that it’s part of growing up and it’s ok to talk about them.
Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.
Lily: I was lucky enough to have a lot of teachers who encouraged me so I don’t even know if I could pick just one! My elementary school librarian read to us several times a week and made reading feel easier to a kid like me, who struggled in school. School isn’t always where kids thrive and having educators who understand that and see a kid’s potential through their struggles is so crucial.
Karen: I really loved my second grade teacher. I remember she had us create our first books by stapling paper together and writing our own story about a cave. Elementary school is such a magical age when you learn to read and write and this whole world feels like it’s opening up and letting you in on all of its secrets.
Is there a book that you wish you wrote?
Lily: We need so many creators’ voices to bring stories to life and I don’t think there’s a book out there that I didn’t write that I could have done as well as the actual author did.
Karen: I don’t think so. I love reading them too much! I’m impressed with so many authors and the variety of writing styles out there. Like Lily said, it’s so important to hear different voices to gain insight from other perspectives and lived experiences.
What is the first step in your creative process?
Lily: Getting angry, usually.
Karen: Creating our characters! It’s so much fun to figure out who they are and how they play off each other.
What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?
Lily: I was really into Harry Potter because I’m the age where everyone grew up with Harry, Ron, and Hermione. But at age 10, I was particularly obsessed with Fairie-ality and would spend hours outside making fairy houses and dresses inspired by the work in that book.
Karen: I read everything I could find by John Bellairs. I was really into magic and supernatural mysteries. Not to mention the illustrations by Edward Gorey.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS:
Lily Williams is the author and illustrator of If Sharks Disappeared, If Polar Bears Disappeared, and If Elephants Disappeared, and the forthcoming If Bees Disappeared. She grew up in Northern California where she received her BFA from California College of the Arts before moving to Denver, Colorado. Lily seeks to inspire change, engage audiences, and educate people of all ages with her artwork.
Karen Schneemann grew up in Northern California. She received her first undergraduate degree in engineering from UCLA and her second in animation from California College of the Arts. In addition to being an engineer, artist, and writer, Karen is also a mom to two adorable kids. She lives and works in foggy San Francisco, California.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Go With the Flow by Lily Williams and Karen Schneemann; illustrated by Lily Williams
High school students embark on a crash course of friendship, female empowerment, and women’s health issues in graphic novel Go With the Flow.
Sophomores Abby, Brit, Christine, and Sasha are fed up. Hazelton High never has enough tampons. Or pads. Or adults who will listen.
Sick of an administration that puts football before female health, the girls confront a world that shrugs—or worse, squirms—at the thought of a menstruation revolution. They band together to make a change. It’s no easy task, especially while grappling with everything from crushes to trig to JV track but they have each other’s backs. That is, until one of the girls goes rogue, testing the limits of their friendship and pushing the friends to question the power of their own voices.
Now they must learn to work together to raise each other up. But how to you stand your ground while raising bloody hell?
Praise for Go With the Flow:
★ “With its alluring red-hued duotone art, this graphic novel successfully empowers readers and guides them to speak up and reclaim agency when they feel something is not right with not only their own bodies, but with the world around them. The girls’ group is inclusive, encompassing different heights, skin colors, races, and body types…Just bloody perfect.”—Kirkus, starred review
“This warm, candid friendship story isn’t shy about the message it’s trying to send—that periods need not be a dirty secret.” —School Library Journal
“The timely messages of empowerment and political dialogue will resonate with socially minded youth.” —Booklist