Welcome to BookEnds, Debbie Zapata! Debbie and I first connected via #PitMad, and it’s been a pleasure to work with her ever since. Her picture books have so much heart, the right amount of humor, and highlight diversity in a way I think is important for kids. Get to meet her here, and get ready for her picture books!
What genres do you write? Read?
I write character-driven stories for children. I strive to create a range of work—heartfelt, funny, difficult subject matter, biography and more. I write picture books for both young and older child audiences. I am working on a middle grade novel.
I enjoy reading picture books that celebrate diversity and explore the lives of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. I also like books that help children understand themselves and the world around them. I try to read at least ten picture books a week. Some of my favorite picture book authors are Matt de la Peña, Jessixa Bagley, Bethany Hegedus, Andrea Loney, Mac Barnett, Loren Long and Andrea Davis Pikney.
Plotter or pantster?
In life, I like spontaneity, flexibility, forging forward with an open heart and an open mind. This shows up in my writing. Although I am a pantser initially, at a certain point I do a check-in and identify which story elements are strong and which need more attention. I am always intrigued by what a character easily shows and what she attempts to hide.
Do you have a writing playlist or a vision board? If so, what’s on them?
Both! My literary life vision board has the statement “My choice has power” and is surrounded by character inspiration pictures and working titles. It is a mix of literary life work goals and industry milestones. I like writing to music that mirrors the mood of my stories and which helps get my creative juices flowing. I love listening to artists with a jazz influence such as She & Him, Madeleine Peyroux and Eva Cassidy. When I need to raise the energy level I listen to Stevie Wonder.
Drink of choice when writing? When not writing?
I tend to order a café latte or a cup of tea when I’m writing in a café. When I am not writing, I keep it simple and drink water. Sometimes, I take it up a notch and enjoy a Topo Chico with fresh lime juice.
Day or Night writer?
I’m a day writer. For me, the best hours are the earliest ones before distractions get into my conscious space. I am a big believer in morning pages—the exercise popularized by Julia Cameron in The Artist’s Way. I find the best time to write for me is more about connecting with a calm vibe versus the time of day. Often that can be after a yoga practice or alone in a quiet space.
Twitter or Instagram? Or Facebook? Where can we find you?
You can follow me on Twitter @debbieazapata or like my page on Facebook @DebbieZapataBooks
If you could meet any author, living or dead, who would you want to meet and why?
I would want to meet Monica Brown. Her books including Waiting for the Biblioburro, Maya’s Blanket, and the Lola Levinechapter book series are inspired by her Peruvian and Jewish heritage and desire to bring diverse stories to children. I have a multicultural background myself being of Mexican-American, English and German roots. I strive to bring people together through highlighting how much we have in common. Our uniqueness is enriching.