1. Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen?
I think there’s something magical about picture books, and the impact they have on us when we’re young is profound. I saw it with my own kids when they connected with a book and wanted to read it over and over. And there were books I loved so much when I was little, I bought copies so I could experience them with my kids again.
I also love the balance between the text and illustrations, and writing just enough so the images are as much a part of the story as the text. I have a background in fine arts and journalism and have worked as a radio producer for almost two decades. I see a real correlation between telling stories with text and sound, and telling them with text and images.
In radio you have to depend on the audio to invite listeners into the world you’re creating, and writing picture books really feels like a natural extension of that. Sometimes what you leave out is as important as what you include.
2. What’s your favourite quote about writing?
I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about story structure, tension, narrative arcs and character development. Through that process, I’ve read a lot of books on these topics, including the ever popular On Writing by Stephen King and Story by Robert McKee.
Many of these books come back to the same principle, if you want to be a writer, you have to write. There are so many quotes that reflect this sentiment, but I really like this one by Robert Munsch: “Writing is a bit like swimming. You learn writing by doing it and you learn swimming by doing it. Nobody learns how to swim by reading a book about swimming and nobody learns how to write by reading a book about writing. If you want to learn how to write, write a lot and you will get better at it.”
3. What is the hardest thing about writing?
The hardest thing about writing is finding uninterrupted time. I find the ideas are constant so I have lists of concepts, titles and characters. But it’s the actual getting to your keyboard when you’re not exhausted after work, aren’t driving kids somewhere or meal prepping for the next day. Finding a stretch of unscheduled time is definitely the biggest challenge.
4. Where do you write and how often?
I write anywhere. The first draft of the book that prompted Moe to request more manuscripts from me was written standing at my kitchen island while my husband was doing dishes and my kids were interrupting me every two minutes. It obviously went through a few drafts from there but I needed to get it down quickly so I could come back to it later.
I go through spurts where I write and revise every day, or there will be stretches where I just make notes of ideas I want to come back to, or I just quickly write down a title.
5. Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I’m most active on Twitter. And fully intend to build an author site soon. When I do, I’ll post about it on Twitter. 😉
6. What advice would you give to others in the query trenches?
Keep writing, keep querying and keep learning everything you can about the process. I knew nothing about the publishing industry at the beginning of the year and devoted a huge amount of time to listening to podcasts, reading interviews, looking at sites, agencies and curating my Twitter feed to reflect the industry.
I also signed up for QueryTracker, joined 12X12, participated in pitch contests, and absorbed as much as possible as I started querying.
It became very clear there is no one direct path to publication, so follow your interests and instincts as you navigate the process. And most importantly, don’t give up!
7. What’s the last book you read