My little one would pester his grandma to read the book to him every time she was around. We read other books to him but not this one. He kind of reserved it for grandma. I looked at the book closely the other day while picking it up from the floor and noticed it was written by Iza Trapani! I knew of her because another title of hers; The Itsy Bitsy Spider is available on SlimyBookworm.com and we follow each other on twitter. The rest as they say is history. She was kind enough to do this interview.
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed writing poems and short essays and, while studying art in college, I took as many writing classes as I could. Still, art was my main focus. For most of my life, I thought of myself as a visual artist and not a writer. But, one day when I was out bicycling, a turtle crossed the trail in front of me and inspired a riddle. The riddle evolved into my first book, What Am I? An Animal Guessing Game. After that, ideas kept coming and I realized that I was capable of writing and that I loved it as much as I loved drawing and painting. I feel very fortunate to be able to do both.
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
Coming up with a topic is easy and doesn’t take long. Ideas are all around us. There are so many things I would love to write about. However, coming up with a plot is a challenge. I have a thick folder of years of ideas that I can’t seem to turn into stories. When I do come up with a plot, then writing a picture book draft takes me a few days to a few weeks. I tend to get obsessed and won’t rest until I finish.
3. Where do you get information or ideas for your books?
Since most of my books are one-verse nursery rhymes which I have extended into stories, I like to browse through my assorted Mother Goose collections to see which poems are suited to adaptation. Nature and animals are also great sources of inspiration for me. There are many animal characters and outdoor scenes in my books. I find that long walks stimulate my creativity and help sprout ideas.
4. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
On that bike ride I mentioned above. By the time I got home, I had several verses composed and rushed inside to write them down. That was in 1990 and I was thirty-six. But I won’t tell you how old I am
5. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Think about writing! And while I do that I enjoy being outdoors hiking, skiing, kayaking, gardening. I also love to draw, paint, sing, play a little piano, play a lot of scrabble, cook, bake, and read, of course. Oh, and did I mention social networking?
I have twenty-two published books, eighteen of which I have both written and illustrated and four which I have illustrated for other authors. It’s always hard to pick one favorite as I am so excited about each book as I work on it. Right now, my newest release, The Bear Went Over the Mountain, is my favorite. Froggie Went A-Courtin’, Jingle Bells and Haunted Party are some of my other preferred books.
7. What is your perspective on the present and future of the publishing industry from the view of a published author?
Everything is changing so fast, and I, for one, can’t keep up with it all. Yes, I like to stay informed, but it’s hard to speculate on the future of publishing. Stories and pictures will live on whether they are reproduced digitally or traditionally. My work as a writer and illustrator will not change as long as I have a functional brain, eyes and hands. And I believe that whatever happens, there will always be a place for publishers and bookstores.The idea of a printed book becoming extinct is troubling to me, though I can’t imagine that happening entirely, and certainly not for picture books. I think little children need the tactile and motor experience of holding books and flipping pages. It is reassuring to hear that many adult ebook readers advocate printed books for their children.
8. What advice do you have for aspiring children’s book authors?
Read lots of children’s books. There are many great ones to learn from. There are also many wonderful blogs on the craft of writing. Write because you love to and work hard to keep improving. Keep in mind that children’s stories need to be concise. You can’t bake a whole cake in a custard cup. The recipe will need to be cut big time. And use only the best, freshest ingredients. If you write in rhyme, make sure the meter is absolutely even. Believe in yourself but be realistic and prepared for rejection (it happens to the best of us), especially in today’s highly competitive, saturated and changing market. Here is a post from my blog with tips for aspiring authors: So You Want to Write a Children’s Book? Good luck!
Thank you so much for this interview, Bola!
I can be found at these sites: