Funny that these days, authors can do international book tours…without leaving home. To be honest, I’d rather go with my words to other countries. But “The Next Big Thing” tour is pretty cool. It started in Australia as a creative way to spread the word to readers about authors and illustrators and their current works. I’ve just been “tagged” by Jane Dippold, a talented illustrator and all-around great artist. I’ve been fortunate to team with her on several books, and it’s always a delight to see how she interprets my text and brings life to the characters.
The deal is, I “have to” answer the following questions, before “tagging” five more unsuspecting authors. So, here goes!
1) What is the working title of your next (current) book?
Already, I’m not exactly following the rules because I have several new and upcoming titles (not that I’m complaining). THE SILENCE OF MURDER is out in paper and as an audio book and CD. My next novel with Knopf/Random House is set in sixties:THE SECRETS OF TREE TAYLOR. I have a new animal-fact, Bible story book for toddlers/preschoolers with Tyndale House. And four books of poetry about the seasons, for young kiddos, will be released by Broadman. I LOVE YOU, DADDY (pictured above) and I LOVE YOU, MOMMY have just released from Standard Publishing.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Since I’m already breaking the rules, I’ll talk about THERE’S A BABY IN THERE. On my way to a school visit, I saw a very pregnant lady walking uphill. Alone in the car, I said, “There’s a baby in there!” And by the end of the day, I had a good part of that book coming together in my head. (A little boy chimp considers his mama’s big belly and confides: “There’s a baby in there. At least, that’s what Mama and Papa tell me. I don’t think so. I was in there four years ago, and I didn’t see anybody else….”
The I LOVE YOU books are different from the usual love board books. They’re big, for one thing. But more importantly, they show unconditional love, scenes where Mom and Child don’t always agree…but they love each other just the same.
THE SECRETS OF TREE TAYLOR has been such fun to write–lots of my own memories in there. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for a long, long time.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
I do write for every age and in every genre. THERE’S A BABY IN THERE is a picture book. SECRETS is middle-grade fiction, or maybe historical fiction (although it makes me feel too old to call it that). THE SILENCE OF MURDER is, of course, a mystery. The I LOVE YOU books are “chunky board books.”
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I have no idea, but I’d lobby to cast myself in a bit part.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Here’s the first sentence of THE SECRETS OF TREE TAYLOR: The morning the gun went off, I was thinking about Tolstoy and the Beatles, and maybe, if I’m being honest here, a little about Ray Miller and how his eyes were perfect little pieces of sky.
6) Who is publishing your book?
THE SECRETS OF TREE TAYLOR and THE SILENCE OF MURDER, Knopf/Random House
MY FIRST BIBLE STORYBOOK, Tyndale House
4 books SEASONS, Broadman
I LOVE YOU, MOMMY and I LOVE YOU, DADDY
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
TREE took about six months for a first draft. THE SILENCE OF MURDER took about ten years, though I wrote a lot of other books in the meantime. And I LOVE YOU, DADDY took months, believe it or not. Every word had to count–with no cliches, and with fun language. It’s hard to write short~
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre
Again, no idea…But one editor and one author in my writers’ critique group said Tree reminded them of Scout in my all-time favorite book: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I’m humbled by that comparison!
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I had such a great childhood, growing up in Hamilton, Missouri. I’m sure I took a lot of things for granted then. Maybe SECRETS is my attempt at making up for that.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
There is a certain kind of friendship that transcends differences in age, gender, race, background. Those friendships generally happen in childhood and stay with us forever, even the friend does not.