Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interview with Author Bonny Becker

A couple of months ago I was invited to particpate in author Bonny Becker's blog tour. A blog tour is a way for authors to promote their books and be interviewed without actually having to travel to different places. Various bloggers around the country each had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Becker and post the interviews on their blogs. Ms. Becker's blog tour was February 22 - 28, 2009 and although it's a bit late, I'm pleased to finally post my interview with her!

Bonny Becker is the author of many books for children including An Ant's Day Off, Holbrook: A Lizard's Tale and A Visitor for Bear.

Q: Do you write everyday?
A: I have to confess that I don't. I know it's an excellent practice, but my own style is to write in spurts. I do work with writing everyday - things like research, marketing, teaching, freelance critiquing...once in awhile I even get a chance to read!

Q: Do you have a favorite place to write?
A: Most of the time I write at my desk. For years my office was half of our bedroom, but this year I have a lovely room of my own.

Q: What were your favorite children's books as a child?
A: I loved the Oz books. My mother and father would bring a new one back each time they went to the "big city" - Seattle. And I would devour them. Also: Mary Poppins, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Edward Eager books, Narnia, the Little House books, Wind in the Willows (my father read that to us), Little Women, the Freddy the Detective books...It's hard to narrow it down. I used to go to the library every Saturday and come home with an armload of books.

Q: Who are your favorite children's authors now?
A: Boy, that's a tough question. I can tell you whose books I'm waiting for: Kathleen Duey's sequel to Skin Hunger. I really liked The Graveyard Book and need to get up to speed on Neil Gaiman's books. I want to get my hands on White Sands, Red Menace by Ellen Klages. I'm eager to see my friend Kirby Larson's next book. Can't wait to see what Nancy Werlin does next. David Small has an autobiographical graphic novel coming out called Stitches that I hear is amazing. There's just too many good writers out there!

Q: What are you reading write now?
A: A book I just finished and absolutely loved is The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I'm re-reading Ursula LeGuin's The Left Hand of Darkness and The Natural History of Make-Believe by John Goldthwaite. (I'm teaching a literature class on fantasy fiction this Fall.)

Q: Are you currently working on a new book?
A: Yes, it's a fantasy novel for a slightly older reader than my usual. I mostly write picture books and mid-grade novels for kids around 8 to 10. This new book will be aimed at the 10 to 14 year old age range.

Q: How long does it take you to write a picture book?
A: It's taken me anywhere from 10 years to 10 months. Although I can often get the basic story down on paper within a few hours - it takes many drafts, feedback from fellow writers, polishing and just plain down time to fully develop it.

Q: Do you get to choose the illustrators for your books?
A: No. You can often offer suggestions to the editor, but really it's their decision. That used to bother me, but I've been so lucky in my illustrators including David Small, Nina Laden, Jack E. Davis and the fabulous Kady MacDonald Denton for my Bear books that I can't complain!

Q: Will you tell us a little about Bear's next adventure, A Birthday for Bear?
A: In A Birthday for Bear, Bear is his fastidious, grumpy self on his birthday - even denying that it is his birthday. Mouse disguises himself as various deliverymen, etc. trying to get Bear to admit it's his birthday and enjoy the day. Birthday will be out this Fall in the form of an early reader.

Q: Will there be more books about Bear and Mouse?
A: Yes. In fact, Kady is working on the art for A Bedtime for Bear which will come out in 2010. Bedtime will first be issued as a picture book and then will come out in an early reader format. Candlewick (the publisher) is interested in developing a picture book and an early reader line for these characters and I'm working on several new stories for Bear and Mouse.

Q: You have a new novel coming out in September 2009 called The Magical Ms. Plum. Will you tell us what it's about?
A: The Magical Ms. Plum is a middle-grade chapter book about a teacher with a magical classroom - more specifically a classroom with a magic supply closet. Any kid who goes in there to get something for Ms. Plum ends up finding a magical, miniature animal and has an adventure. It's episodic - each chapter features a different child, a different animal and a different experience. I sometimes describe it as Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle meets Wayside School. Which reminds me, I should add Louis Sachar to my list of favorite current kids authors.

Q: Do you prefer to write picture books or middle-grade novels?
A: Truly, I love them both. And I love that I can do both. When I run out of steam on one manuscript I can turn to another and it's nice that they are each such different experiences.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?
A: My sisters and I are on a fitness kick so we do a lot of hiking and biking. We try out new things, just for the experience. Last year we did some rock climbing and snowshoeing. I'm getting into opera - it's all just melodrama in song. Reading, of course. I'm hooked on watching Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. Movies. You can now download movies from Netflix to watch instantly and I'm gorging myself on English historical dramas.

Q: Do you have any advice for young writers?
A: Know that writing is hard and there's nothing wrong with you if it takes a long time to get published. Think of it as you would any skill. To be a doctor you'd expect to study for four to eight years beyond college, go through an internship; build your skills up over years of practice. That's how you should approach writing, too. Be prepared to invest in yourself through classes and conferences and allow yourself time to learn.

For more information about Bonny Becker, visit her website.
Thanks again to Bonny Becker for appearing, courtesy of Provato Marketing. For other stops on the tour please check http://www.provatoevents.com/.

1 comment:

kathleen duey said...

Great interview. Smart and articulate. I love what Bonny says about the learning curve. Perhaps a few poeple write easily. Most of us labor at it.

Love that bear...!