|grabbed from her website, thank you!|
Again, Deborah Underwood, author of award-winning picture books, nonfiction, and chapter books, let me ask her a few questions in preparation for the upcoming SCBWI Summer Conference. She's the coolest!
Jaime: Hi Deborah, you have a ton of fantastic, thoughtful interviews linked to at your site already, so I'd like to point readers there to learn more about you, but a few questions that haven't been covered are below. #1: Do you have a favorite new writing tool?
Deborah: Does a tool that I got last year count as new? If so, my iPad. It's so nice not to have to lug my computer to a cafe if I want to write (I bring a small external keyboard along, too). If it needs to be newer, I bought a chocolate bar yesterday and I'm hoping the little bit that's left will fuel my writing tonight.
Jaime: The iPad counts, as does the chocolate! Speaking of writing, can you tell us what you are working on right now?
Deborah: I'm gearing up for the release of THE CHRISTMAS QUIET BOOK (illustrated by Renata Liwska) in September,
|Eee! So excited to see this! From Renata Liwska's blog|
and we're putting the finishing touches on PART-TIME PRINCESS (illustrated by Cambria Evans), which comes out next spring.
|Coming soon from Disney-Hyperion|
Deborah: I'm also writing a story for an app that will be released later this year. I have several picture books in the pipeline, so I'm at various stages with those--editing, looking at illustration samples, etc. And I have a pile of new ideas that I wrestle with when I get a chance.
Jaime: Holy frijoles! Has your schedule changed much since your 2010 interview with Jenn Bertman (super blog, by the way, profiling awesome kidlit people's creative spaces!)? Are you focused on more fiction picture-book writing vs. nonfiction or chapter-book writing?
Deborah: Still totally unpredictable! I've done very little nonfiction this year, but I just got some work writing passages for a testing company, so I'm in the middle of those. I seem to be generating picture book manuscripts this year, despite my resolution to write something longer. In terms of a daily schedule, I still find I'm useless in the afternoons, so I write in the mornings and evenings.
Jaime: I find I am also useless in the afternoons. But also in the mornings. And evenings... Deborah, I just adored your interview with the Our Hen House blog, do you have more books coming out with such subtle but powerful animal activism themes like GRANNY GOMEZ AND JIGSAW (illustrated by the awesome Scott Magoon)? Or are there any out now by others that you recommend? I think of Eva Ibbotson's novel THE BEASTS OF CLAWSTONE CASTLE as another good example.
Deborah: Oh, thank you so much! The animal thing—treating nonhumans with the respect and compassion they deserve—is at the core of my being. I do want to write another book that expresses those values, but it feels like it needs to be longer than a picture book. Since it's such an important issue to me, I find the idea of writing about it terrifying; I worry that I'm not a good enough writer yet to do it. And it's tricky to write a book that is suffused with those values but doesn't cross over into being preachy. But a friend recommended THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN by Katherine Applegate, and Applegate did a great job walking that line. I'll look for the Clawstone Castle book; maybe it will inspire me, too.
Jaime: The Ivan book is on my list, definitely. Do you have a few other favorite children's books of 2012?
Deborah: Here are some of my favorites so far: Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky; ONE COOL FRIEND by Toni Buzzeo and illustrated by David Small; WONDER by R.J. Palacio; THE WICKED AND THE JUST by J. Anderson Coats; DARKNESS FALLS by Cate Tiernan.
Jaime: That's a nice smörgåsbord of kid books! Anyone you're looking forward to hearing at the LA SCBWI Conference?
Deborah: I'm looking forward to so many of the speakers! It's an amazing lineup, and I'm honored to be included. Off the top of my head: Gary Schmidt, Candace Fleming, Karen Cushman, Antoinette Portis—I think I'm going to need to clone myself to get to everything.
Jaime: Oh, Dan Santat can help with cloning, and he lives pretty close to the conference hotel. I will put you two in touch. Last question—current favorite non-kidlit stuff?
Deborah: I just finished Jonah Lehrer's IMAGINE: HOW CREATIVITY WORKS and found it both fascinating and helpful. And I'm listening to Bill Bryson's A WALK IN THE WOODS on CD; I adore him. Thank you! Hope to see you in L.A.!
Jaime: Thanks to you, Deborah! Really looking forward to your talk. And a final reminder to all that the French translation of Deborah and Renata's THE LOUD BOOK! is BADA BOUM!.