Nothing like getting “tagged” in a blog tour to jumpstart my own blog! My friend and fellow writer, Page McBrier, invited me to join the tour so I am following her recent post which you can find here: www.pagemcbrier.com. And now for the questions…
WHAT AM I WORKING ON?
I have a few new projects percolating in my studio – drafts of picture books, paintings of raccoons, and something that is not a children’s book at all; a graphic memoir. As someone who both writes and illustrates my books, I find the graphic format fascinating and very challenging. The text and the drawings are woven together in a completely new way. Writing picture books has always reminded me of creating a piece for theater; choosing characters, setting the stage, creating the lighting and of course, writing the script. The graphic form is similar but a lot more complicated. I’m also trying to come up with ways to promote my next book, LITTLE BIRD TAKES A BATH. It will be published by Schwartz & Wade in spring 2015. A trailer perhaps?
HOW DOES MY WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
“There’s nothing new under the sun,” an editor once told me. “It’s all in your point of view.” Obviously, we are each shaped by a different set of experiences so our responses and artistic expressions will all be different, too. My stories are deeply personal. They have been inspired by my children, my family history, my childhood feelings, and simple everyday moments we all know. I go where my “astonishment” (as Annie Dillard calls it) leads me which is why I’ve written preschool picture books, older picture books, two picture books about the Holocaust and World War II, and even two YA novels.
WHY DO I WRITE WHAT I DO?
Maybe I have no choice! The ideas, characters, and plots that are irresistible will not let me go until I have explored them and written the stories they inspire; or at least attempted to write them.
HOW DOES MY WRITING PROCESS WORK?
Good question. I’m always interested in how other writers work. For me the ideas can come from an overheard conversation, a glimpsed moment on a city street, a sentence or phrase I can’t get out of my head, an old photograph or letter. I like to keep a small notebook with me so I can jot things down. When I sit at my table to begin a story I usually write on yellow pads with a pen. I like the feel of the pen on paper just as I like the feel of a brush on paper. Of course, I start and stop and start over. I cross out, doodle, and write in margins. I daydream. I walk around my studio. Only after I have a viable draft do I open my computer and begin typing. Usually, I create multiple documents and move things around. I let the stories sit and return to them later. Sometimes it’s shocking to see what I considered inspired one day fail miserably the next. The best thing I can do is read my words aloud. I usually don’t consider the pictures until I have a working manuscript. Then I lay out the pages and make a dummy. With rough sketches I sometimes see where words need to be changed or deleted. In my experience, a book evolves and morphs right up to the day it goes to the printer.
Tag, you’re it:
I’m happy to tag two wonderful children’s book authors: Nina Crews and Jean Van Leeuwen.
Nina Crews uses photography and collage to create distinctive picture books for children. Her stories draw inspiration from the children and neighborhoods of Brooklyn, NY – her home for over 25 years. She is the daughter of children’s book authors Donald Crews and Ann Jonas and grew up watching them work. Her first book, One Hot Summer Day, was published in 1995. Nina has received numerous honors. The Neighborhood Mother Goose was selected as an ALA Notable Book for 2004; Kirkus and School Library Journals Best Books of 2004; and The New York Public Library’s 100 Books for Reading & Sharing. Below was an ALA Notable Book for 2006 and Junior Library Guild Selection. Her most recent books are The Neighborhood Sing-Along and Jack and the Beanstalk. Nina lives in Park Slope, Brooklyn with her husband, 6 year old son, and 16 year old cat.
Here is a link to Nina’s blog: http://ninacrews.wordpress.com/
Jean Van Leeuwen is the author of more than fifty children’s books, including picture books, early readers, and middle-grade fiction. She has won numerous awards, including the William Allen White Award, the South Carolina Children’s Book Award, the Washington Irving Children’s Choice Award, and many ALA Notable Book citations. Her popular Oliver and Amanda Pig series was called “as timeless as the truths of childhood” by the New York Times. A former children’s book editor, she lives in Chappaqua, New York.
Here’s the link to Jean’s website where she has answered these questions (and more!):