It’s time for another wonderful interview. This time the interviewee is author Lisa Wheeler. I had the good fortune of attending one of her recent Picture Book Boot Camps, a one-day inclusive workshop for picture book writers. It was a great experience. She really knows her stuff. She ought to, she’s had many books of her own published. The three pictured above are a small sampling of some of my favorites. Enjoy the interview!
Interview with Author Lisa Wheeler (11/2/2011)
Q. Why do you like to write children’s picture books and how did you get started?
LW. Like most writers, I’d been writing all my life. But it wasn’t until 1995 that I felt the desire to be published. I began sending my work out and gathering my rejections. It took nearly 4 years and 225 rejections before I ever sold a book. In the meantime, my writing had been improving and I was learning what makes a good children’s story. I’d had some success in children’s magazines and also did a freelance job writing very tight stories for the educational market. This was all a very helpful education. No one I knew had the internet when I began doing this. It wasn’t until 1997 that we decided to try it out. That was when I began meeting other writers, forming critique groups, and I learned about SCBWI. I do think I learned more in 6 months after joining SCBWI than I was able to find out on my own in the years prior to that. I sold One Dark Night—my first sale—on Oct. 30, 1998.
Q. I really like your book One Dark Night. How did you come up with the idea for that one?
LW. It’s hard to recall. That book started with wordplay and scribbles on a piece of paper. I was at work and on my clipboard I had written In a wee little house/in a wee little hole/lived a wee little mouse/ and a wee little mole. At the time I wrote that, I just liked the way it sounded and had no idea where the story would go. This was back in 1998, so I cannot recall how I figured out the rest of the story.
Q. You have written several books, any favorites?
LW. You know I can’t pick a favorite! The books are like my kids, if I pick a favorite, they’ll fight. My house would be full of imaginary fur and feathers. But like my kids, my books are each good at different things. For instance, my favorites to read aloud are Bubble Gum, Bubble Gum, Sixteen Cows, Jazz Baby, Ugly Pie, and the dino-sports series. The characters I like to spend time with are Sailor Moo, Cushion the porcupine, and Fitch and Chip. I think my funniest books are Turk and Runt and Spinster Goose. For each of my books, I have a different reason for it to be a favorite.
Q. What are you working on right now?
LW. I am working on the 6th book in the dino-sports series, Dino-Wrestling. I am also preparing for another Picture Book Boot Camp, which is my one day intensive workshop on picture book writing.
Q. Who are your favorite picture book authors?
LW. Phyllis Root, Brock Cole, and Kevin Henkes
Q. Where can fans go to learn more about you and your books?
Q. Any closing thoughts?
LW. Writing picture books for children is my dream come true. It took lots of years and lots of hard work, but I feel as if I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life. If you have a passion, back it up with hard work, surround yourself with supportive people, and be willing to ‘put yourself out there for rejection’, you will be following your dreams. Getting paid to do a job you would do for free—icing on the cake!