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Interview with Debut Author Lisa Rogers

Authors, book release, debut interview, InterviewsLindsay Ward5 Comments

Happy Thursday Critters! This will be our last interview post for a couple weeks until October 3rd, as I’m about to have baby no. 3 any day now…!!! BUT today, I’m thrilled to be featuring the work of debut author Lisa Rogers, whose new non-fiction picture book, 16 WORDS WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND “THE RED WHEEL BARROW”, illustrated by Chuck Groenink, releases on September 24th with Schwartz & Wade books! So exciting! This fantastic book has received multiple starred reviews and is a must read for any picture book or poetry lovers out there! I’m so happy Lisa could share her work and process with us today…so without further ado, please welcome Lisa Rogers!

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Where do you live?

Just west of Boston, at the halfway point of the Boston Marathon. It’s the place to be each year on Marathon Monday, cheering on all of the participants—my hands always are sore from clapping. Actually running it—which I’ve done four times—is even better. What a thrill and honor! 

When did you know you wanted to write picture books? 

As a child, I was a huge reader, fascinated by folktales, fairytales, and poetry, and the illustrations that accompanied them. My goal was to be a writer and artist. I wrote poems, drew all the time, and started a little family newspaper. I grew up to become a news reporter and editor. Then, when I thought it wise not to be working on deadline with a small child on my lap, I changed careers and eventually became an elementary school librarian. After years of immersion in children’s literature and learning from my students, I realized that writing picture books was what I had to do.

Tell us about your road to publication, what did that involve for you? 

You would think that my two careers would set me up perfectly—and they have—but I had so much to learn! Writing for children is incredibly complicated. This year one of my students wrote to me, “You taught me that a book is not just for reading, it is more.” Getting to that “more” is my goal. For me, it means writing about a topic close to my heart. I was lucky to submit the manuscript for my debut to an agent who saw its potential, and she sold it very soon after we signed. In the meantime, a committee of writers also chose that manuscript for a Susan P. Bloom Discovery Award. That award was a wonderful boost as I pursued publication. Groups like SCBWI, the 12 x 12 writing challenge, and The Writers’ Loft in Sherborn, Mass. have been crucial to supporting me in my learning.

Can you share a bit about your process?

I don’t have a standard routine, partly because it’s hard for me to sit down. I do most of my writing in my mind while I’m doing something else. A phrase or sentence comes to me and that starts the whole process. I can sit down and set goals and get writing and revisions done (that’s where my deadline experience kicks in), but the inspiration really has to be organic. My favorite spot to get words down is on my patio where hummingbirds sometimes mistake me for a flower.

What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas? 

I live on a beautiful pond, and love to take a break on a late summer afternoon, hop in my kayak, and boat over to our little town beach for a swim. The combination of exercise and quiet boosts my creativity. If it’s blustery, I get out a canvas and do some painting.

Anything you can’t live without while you write? 

A pencil and any scrap of paper. Writing for me needs to be tactile, at least when I’m beginning a story, but also when I’m trying to find the heart of it. I’ve even written in the sand while on a run at Goose Rocks Beach, Maine, because I didn’t want to forget my thought. 

My daughter gave me a Moomin notebook with an attached pencil, which I adore, and which I used to write my next book, HOUND WON’T GO. Speaking of which, a big dog is essential to get me moving after I’ve been sitting too long. 

Any authors and/or illustrators who inspire you?  

So many! I adore picture book biographies and nonfiction, and so do my students. When we read a great biography, they are so absorbed that they can’t believe it’s true. I look for that sense of wonder in any book, like Sophie Blackall’s Hello Lighthouse, Jessixa Bagley’s Boats for Papa and Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead’s collaborations. Margaret Wise Brown has been a longtime favorite, and I love Mac Barnett’s new biography of her. Illustrators: Shane Evans, Juana Martinez-Neal, Christian Robinson, Melissa Sweet and of course 16 WORDS illustrator Chuck Groenink! When I find a picture book that resonates, I want to live in that world.

Dream project to work on?

16 WORDS has been a dream project from beginning to publication! I couldn’t be prouder of this book.

Tell us about your debut book.

My debut, 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND “THE RED WHEELBARROW” (Schwartz & Wade Books) is about the inspiration for Williams’ favorite, and most famous poem. He wrote those sixteen words after noticing Thaddeus Marshall’s wheelbarrow outside in the rain and felt it was the most profound, moving image he had ever seen. 

Williams was a doctor as well as a poet, and Marshall was his neighbor and patient. The book parallels their lives of work and caring. The poem was written nearly 100 years ago, but Marshall’s role was only recently identified. When I learned about him, I had my own inspiring moment, and that’s what started this whole adventure!

What’s up next for you? 

I’m excited about HOUND WON’T GO, inspired by my incredibly stubborn, lovable, gigantic rescue hound. He’s brought so much fun and joy to our lives. One day when he, as is typical, refused to move because he wanted to go one way and I the other, the first few lines ran through my mind. My editor, Christina Pulles at Albert Whitman & Company, loves the manuscript as much as I do. HOUND will be unleashed, with delightful illustrations by Meg Ishihara, in spring 2020.

And last, but not least, favorite 80s movie?

Working Girl! That puffy hair, those padded shoulders! Sneakers with office wear! I love it for its iconic 80s fashion. You’ll never see me in shoulder pads, but that was one empowering movie. 


Huge thank you to Lisa for stopping by Critter Lit today! Congrats on your debut! We can’t wait to see HOUND WON’T GO next!


LISA ROGERS is an elementary school librarian and a former newspaper reporter and editor. She grew up in West Long Branch, NJ, not far from where Thaddeus Marshall, the inspiration for William Carlos Williams' poem "The Red Wheelbarrow," tended his garden. 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND “THE RED WHEELBARROW,” (Random House/Schwartz & Wade Books) is her first book for children. HOUND WON’T GO, illustrated by Meg Ishihara, will be published in 2020 by Albert Whitman & Company. Lisa lives near Boston with her family and hound dog.

FOR MORE INFORMATION about Lisa Rogers visit her online or follow her on social media:

Twitter: @LisaLJRogers

Facebook: LisaLabancaRogers

TO ORDER Lisa’s book, ring up your local bookstore or click here.

BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Want a chance to win a copy of 16 WORDS: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS AND “THE RED WHEELBARROW”?! Comment on this post or share it on Twitter. One lucky winner will be selected Thursday, September 26th! US addresses only please.

Interview with Debut Picture Book Author Marcy Campbell

Authors, book release, Book Reviews, publishingLindsay Ward3 Comments
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I was lucky enough to meet Marcy Campbell a couple years ago at the Buckeye Book Fair in Wooster, Ohio. I was participating as an author/illustrator when Marcy walked up and introduced herself. She told me how she'd just signed with an agent and they'd recently sold her first picture book, ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE. It's funny because at the time, I remember getting a feeling that the book she was describing was going to be special, different, maybe even make a mark. And I was right. It's been wonderful to watch the word spread about this book. It has gained incredible buzz. In addition to Marcy's wonderfully powerful text (I cried the first time I read it), the illustrations are by the extremely talented Corinna Luyken, whose debut picture book last year, THE BOOK OF MISTAKES, was my absolute favorite of the year. Needless to say ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE is a must read!

I'm incredibly honored to interview Marcy and thrilled for you all to hear about her stunning, poignant, and extremely relevant debut picture book: ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE.

So without further ado....please welcome Marcy Campbell!

Where do you live?

Wooster, Ohio.

When did you know you wanted to make picture books?

I’ve always been a writer, since my preschool years when I taped books of my pictures together, but I was never encouraged to pursue it as a “career” and so I did other things first, primarily marketing and public relations. I finally decided to take the leap and got a graduate degree in creative writing. I wrote strictly for adults, however, and after publishing a bunch of short stories, started working on what I’d hoped would be a great literary novel. Then, I became a parent and filled my home with picture books. I think any writer, after spending a lot of time with a certain type of book, will entertain the thought of writing those books. Still, it took me quite awhile to set aside my adult novel projects. I kept a list of picture book ideas and kept adding to it. Then, one rainy afternoon, I was sick and tired of editing my novel, and I opened that idea file and got to work on Adrian. It felt right almost immediately. I won’t say that writing for kids is any easier than for adults (and in many ways, it’s more difficult), but it feels natural, like what I’m supposed to be doing.

Can you share a bit about your process?

I have a very different process for picture books versus novels (I just finished drafting a middle grade.) I’m very methodical about novels and have all sorts of steps throughout the phases of outlining, drafting and revising, but so far, my best picture book ideas have come in a moment of inspiration and were written pretty quickly. I think about the idea for awhile and jot down some notes, but then I wait for that moment when I hear the voice in my head and have a sense of the story’s arc. The writing can then happen in a day. After that, I’ll sit on it for a few weeks, revisiting, tweaking individual lines. I’ve found that the picture book drafts that took me a long time to write tend to not work out in the end. Of course writing processes are very different for each writer, and even different for the same writer across different types of books. It can take some experimentation to find what works best.

What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?

Nothing beats surrounding myself with a stack of new books. When I’m in idea generation mode, I’ll be at the library a lot, and you’ll see towering stacks of picture books on my coffee table. Inevitably, something grabs me and turns me onto a new idea. I also find that long walks in the woods help a great deal (for many maladies, not just a lack of book ideas). I like to clean or paint (walls and furniture, not canvases) or rearrange things in my house, anything that keeps my hands busy while letting my mind wander. When I’m coming up with ideas, I have a spotless house! When I’m finishing a manuscript…not so much.

Anything you can't write without?

I’m pretty adaptable in terms of location. I write nearly everything on my laptop, so I’m kind of lost without that, though I’ve certainly been known to jot down ideas on scraps of napkin in a pinch. The most important thing to my writing, and general well-being, is a great cup of coffee.  

Favorite authors/illustrators?

Oh gosh, such a hard question. I will say that the picture book that I found most inspirational while writing ADRIAN was Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson’s Last Stop on Market Street. There are so many fabulous picture book authors and illustrators out there, and, having entered the kidlit world kind of late, I’m discovering new ones every week. Jacqueline Woodson’s books have really touched me. When I want some fun, I love Mac Barnett and Bob Shea and Ame Dyckman (especially her work with Zach O'Hora, whose illustrations I love). Lane Smith is a perennial favorite of mine. I’m certainly partial to Corinna Luyken’s illustrations (and I loved her before she did my book, so I’m only a little bit biased). I’m beyond fortunate to be working with her. The most recent picture book I can’t put down (from both a text and illustration perspective) is Julián Is a Mermaid by Jessica Love.

Tell us about your debut book. What inspired you to write it?

I did know a boy when I was a kid who said he had a horse, but he said he had a lot of things, and his family seemed to be doing well financially, so there was probably some truth to his boasting. I remember, however, that I thought he was lying about the horse in particular. That childhood memory became one line in a list of picture book ideas I started keeping after having my own kids. “Boy says he has a horse and girl doesn’t believe him.” One rainy afternoon, I was struggling with a rewrite of an adult novel and decided to try my hand at a picture book. Chloe's voice came to me quite clearly, and the story took off from there. Over the last few years, I’ve put in a lot of time volunteering at my kids’ public elementary school, which has a high percentage of children with economic need, and I believe those experiences helped shape the story beyond just a couple of kids arguing about a horse and toward issues of class and empathy.

Dream project or book to work on?

That’s a tough one. Thankfully, my dream book is usually the one I’m working on right now. I do think it would be fun to collaborate on some kind of science series with my husband some day (he’s a biologist).

And last, but not least, favorite 80s movie?

Hands down, Back to Future (the first one; I don’t care much for the sequels). I had a huge crush on Michael J. Fox, and there was a year where my friends and I were listening to all this old 50s and 60s music for some reason. It hit all the right buttons. I still get chills when he’s playing “Earth Angel” at the dance, and his parents kiss, and his hand reappears.

Thank you Marcy for chatting with us today! Wishing you heaps of success with your stunning debut and future projects!


Marcy Campbell lives in Ohio with her family and menagerie of rescued pets. Her writing for adults has been published widely in journals and magazines, including Salon. She grew up on a farm filled with cows, chickens, cats, and dogs, but she never had a horse. Adrian Simcox Does NOT Have a Horse is her debut picture book.

For more information about Marcy Campbell and her books, visit her online at www.marcycampbell.com or follow her on Twitter @marcycampbell.

TO PURCHASE A COPY of ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE visit your local bookstore, or click here.


BOOK GIVEAWAY!

Want a chance to win a copy of ADRIAN SIMCOX DOES NOT HAVE A HORSE?! Comment on this post or share it on Twitter. One lucky winner will be selected Thursday, August 23rd! US addresses only please.

What's up on deck? Tune in next week for an interview with author + illustrator Betsy Snyder!