Amy Answers Some Questions
Did you ever want to be a ballerina?
No. I took a dance class when I was about seven or eight, but I wasn’t all that good at it, and I didn't like performing in front of an audience. I did take ballet for two years when I was writing the Belinda books. It was really fun, but I don’t think my knees liked it (it made them hurt sometimes).
Where do you get your ideas?
Ideas come from all kinds of places. My stories usually start with a character who sticks in my mind, and who finds himself or herself in a peculiar situation. It is kind of magical, though, because I don’t invent my characters: they seem to exist already. I just have to find them and then listen to them.
Belinda the Ballerina, my first book, just popped into my head one evening. I started to tell my husband the idea, and then I grabbed a pencil and wrote and drew it as I talked, so I wouldn’t forget. The story wrote itself.
The Mud Fairy was inspired by a little girl I know, and by the natural world right outside our house.
You might want to check out Behind the Scenes which explores how I make a book in more depth. The section on THE MUD FAIRY talks about inspiration and ideas.
Do you know Spike and Cubby
Yes! Spike was my dog before I had Sophie Rose. He was a lab mix who was just as exuberant and joyful as he is in Spike and Cubby’s Ice Cream Island Adventure. He loved swimming and ice cream, and he really, REALLY hated thunder. He died at the ripe old age of 16 (that is about 112 in dog years). Cubby is a Welsh Corgi who belongs to author Heather Sellers. He is a very dignified little chap, and he is a worrier, just like in the book. Spike came from a dog pound in Princeton, NJ; Heather got Cubby from a rescue group.
I want to write and/or illustrate for children. What is the best way to get published?
Everybody’s path is different, but I would recommend several things. First, join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Attend their conferences and get to know other aspiring writers and illustrators.
Second, read books on the subject. There are a lot of good ones out there. I like How to Write and Illustrate Children’s Books and Get Them Published, edited by Treld Pelkey Bicknell and Felicity Trottman; The Children’s Picture Book: How to Write It, How to Sell It, by Ellen E. M. Roberts, and the current edition of Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.
Finally, read as many children’s books you can. Read the new ones. Read the old ones. Read the good ones. Read the bad ones. Read them aloud. Read them to children. Read them to your goldfish. Develop that ear! Listen for the rhythm, the pacing, the syntax, the drama. Read!