It is my pleasure to welcome children’s book author Michelle Vattula to Frog on a Blog. Michelle’s debut picture book, The Stalking Seagulls, was published earlier this year. Once upon a time, Michelle and I were in a critique group together, and I had the privilege of seeing an early draft of this story. I’m so excited that her hilarious boy vs. seagulls book is now out in the world! Let’s hear from Michelle. Be sure to read all the way to the end for information about a giveaway!
Congratulations on the publication of your debut children’s picture book The Stalking Seagulls! Please tell us a bit about the book and what inspired the story.
M.V. Hi Lauri and thank you so much. The Stalking Seagulls is a day at the beach that everyone has experienced at one time or another. A little boy gets a sandwich and the seagulls descend. The fun part of the book is what the main character, Alec, does to try to thwart the seagulls advances. My family visits my snowbird parents each year in Florida and one year the seagulls were quite relentless, which is where I got my inspiration.
The Stalking Seagulls was printed in a special font called dyslexie. Can you tell us a little about that? And is it common for your publisher, Maclaren-Cochrane Publishing, to print books this way?
M.V. According to www.dyslexiefont.com, Dyslexie font is a typeface – specially designed for people with dyslexia – which enhances the ease of reading, learning and working. The dyslexic font has subtle differences with the letter, such as being thicker on the bottom and slight slants to certain letters. This in turn assists the dyslexic reader. My publisher MacLaren-Cochrane only prints their books in dyslexie.
How long have you been writing with an eye toward being published?
M.V. Even though I have been writing for a long time, it has only been in the past six years that I have truly focused on being published and ultimately learning as much as I can about the publishing world.
What is your favorite thing about picture books?
M.V. Hmmm….that is a great question. There are so many areas to address, but overall, I love how they make me feel. When a picture book has a great and satisfying ending, I then feel good. Picture books can elicit many different emotions and having a writer creative and talented enough to evoke them is quite a special talent.
You have a degree in Speech-Language Pathology. How does your knowledge of speech pathology affect or inform your writing?
M. V. My main focus in Speech-Language Pathology was within the geriatric population, so I dealt with a lot of Aphasia (an acquired language disorder due to a brain injury, such as a stroke) and Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing). That being said, the use of language was vital, making sure words and thoughts were clear and that words and phrases helped elicit language and communication. It’s complicated to explain, but my background has allowed me to use language that is fun and creative.
You are a member of at least one writer’s critique group. How important is it to you to be involved in groups like this?
M.V. Being part of a critique group is everything! I have three different critique groups and they all bring something different to the table. I am blessed and thankful for their expertise and opinions. They have all made me a better writer and critiquer.
What’s next for Michelle Vattula? What are you currently working on?
M.V. I have a great agent, T.J. Kirsch, from JCH Literary, who believes in my writing and is working hard to find it the right home. I have multiple completed manuscripts, Yay! I am doing a lot of revisions on others. I just started working on a sequel to a complete MS. Lots of pokers in the fire, that’s for sure.
Where can fans connect with you online?
Instagram @michelleciampavattula and Twitter @Mmvattula
Is there anything else you’d like to share with readers?
M.V. I hope you enjoy The Stalking Seagulls. If you are a writer and frustrated with the process, stay strong and keep going. The publishing world is a hard business, but with perseverance and heart, anything is possible. Best of luck and may the seagulls never get your sandwich!
Thanks so much, Michelle! I’m sure everyone will enjoy your wonderful debut book.
Folks, if you haven’t yet picked up a copy of The Stalking Seagulls, here’s a chance to get your hands on one. Michelle has generously offered to give away a signed copy of her book to one person who comments on this blog post by August 23. A winner will be chosen at random.
Giveaway open to U.S. residents only.
Michelle Vattula was born in Boston but grew up most of her life in Erie, PA. After she received her Bachelor’s degree from Miami University of Ohio, she ventured back to Boston for her Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Northeastern University. Michelle Currently lives in the beautiful rolling hills of North Pittsburgh with her Finnish husband, her two rescue Golden Retrievers (one who is a therapy dog), and two beautiful boys who are her true inspiration for writing.
Michelle’s debut picture book, THE STALKING SEAGULLS, was released by MacLaren-Cochrane Publishing on April 20, 2021. Michelle is part of the Western Pennsylvania SCBWI leadership team as their New Member and Critique Group Coordinator. She is also a proud member of the Twitter group #Newin19. Michelle is represented by T.J. Kirsch from JCH Literary, and is open for interviews, story times/readings and visits (virtual and in-person).