In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
How I loved meeting Heather Vogel Frederick years ago- first through reading her books, then in person, then again through a fantastic author visit. Her kindness, creativity, and thoughtfulness come through with her books, every time. I am quite excited that Heather’s Spy Mice book series is being re-released with new book covers, so thrilled since I loved how my students enjoyed these books and also all the other books Heather has written. *See contest at the bottom of this post where you could win your very own set of the Spy Mice books! Her picture books, fantasy books, realistic fiction books, and historical fiction books are all fantastic. I’m honestly completely addicted to her Mother Daughter Book Club book series, I loved seeing my students grow to be fans of her books over the years. I also appreciated how I could use her books as the introduction to strong realistic fiction books with various character voices telling a story. Additionally, that series has led my students to jump into the classic books the book club reads! Pretty fantastic.
I was so honored that Heather agreed to this interview, hope you enjoy getting a glimpse into her wonderful author mind! Also, her author blog page is updated frequently and quite entertaining to read: www.heathervogelfrederick.com
Styling Librarian Q&A with Heather Vogel Frederick
What was your favorite childhood book memory?
It’s a tossup between my father reading A Child’s Christmas in Wales, complete with requisite Welsh accent, to our family every Christmas Eve, or his reading James and the Giant Peach. He used different voices for each character, and his Aunt Sponge and Aunt Spiker have never been topped. I’ve been hooked on Roald Dahl ever since.
Are there any authors or books that you liked as a child that you still read now?
I re-read Charlotte’s Web every year for inspiration and instruction. I think of it as my annual master class with E. B. White.
Have you read any children’s literature books recently?
All the time! Most recently I’ve been on a Kirby Larsen binge – I read The Friendship Doll, which I adored, and just re-read her Newbery honor book Hattie Big Sky, in preparation for the new sequel, Hattie Ever After. Last night I started a new YA novel, N. Griffin’s The Whole Stupid Way We Are, and am already riveted.
What was a favorite genre you read as a child? How have your tastes changed as an adult?
My tastes were pretty broad as a kid—I basically read anything I could get my hands on. My favorite genre, though, was fantasy: The Borrowers; Half Magic; The Gammage Cup; Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles; The Dark Is Rising; Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. These days, I find I’m reading more non-fiction. Not sure why—maybe it’s just that I crave a palate-cleanser after being immersed in writing fiction all day.
Do you still have any of your books from when you were a child?
Any? I have almost all of them! Our bookshelves are crammed with relics from my childhood—tattered copies of Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Winnie-the-Pooh, Mary Poppins, The Saturdays, Swallows and Amazons, The Wolves Of Willoughby Chase, Daddy-Long-Legs, A Little Princess, to name just a few. I need to organize everything one of these days.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
I’m thrilled to tell you that my Spy Mice books—The Black Paw, For Your Paws Only, and Goldwhiskers – www.spymice.com—are being relaunched this month with all new snazzy covers. This was a surprise move by my publisher (Simon & Schuster), and I’m delighted and grateful. I have a real soft spot for these books. They’re an homage of sorts to my misspent youth, far too much of which found me glued to the TV, watching such classic spy-fi shows as Mission: Impossible, Get Smart, The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and The Avengers. Set at the Spy Museum in Washington, D.C., the stories feature a 5th grader who’s dealing with bullies at school, and a secret agent mouse who’s dealing with the evil rats of the world. When the two join forces, mayhem ensues…. The books were a total blast to write, and I have my fingers (and paws) crossed that the new covers will prove irresistible—I hope so, as I’d dearly love to write more of them!
*Remember to enter our contest for a set of Spy Mice books at the bottom of this post!
How do you feel about the development and growth of the e-Book industry?
Largely indifferent. I have an e-reader, which was given to me as a gift, and it’s fabulous for travel. However, I never reach for it when I’m at home, as I much prefer “real” books. I guess the jury is still out on how, or even if, the e-Book industry will change things for writers. I suspect not that much—someone still needs to write the stories, regardless of how they are delivered.
If you weren’t a writer, what occupation would you be working in?
I have no doubt it would have something to do with books. I’d be a librarian, perhaps, or a bookseller. It’s in my blood. I like to say that my father was born in a bookshop, which is almost technically true! My grandfather owned a bookstore in Providence, Rhode Island, as a young man, and my father was born in the tiny backroom apartment. I recently spent a few days working “undercover” at Eagle Harbor Books on Bainbridge Island (research for my next novel), and I had so much fun that I came home seriously wondering if I’d missed my calling…
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
Yes—a wonderful children’s librarian by the name of Marjorie Hamlin. As a lark, I signed up for her children’s literature class the spring of my senior year at Principia College, and my life hasn’t been the same since. I’d planned on being the next Jane Austen, but from the time I took that class, I knew I wanted to write for young readers instead.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza? (in honor of my husband who thinks it would be cool if I collect a list of author’s favorite pizza “You can learn a lot about a person from the pizza topping they like.”)
Pizza isn’t pizza unless there are Kalamata olives on top.
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was….
… turn the ringer on the phone off. (I have since expanded this to turn EVERYTHING off, as this advice was given to me in the pre-Internet, pre-social media era).
Debbie, you forgot to ask me …
… how on earth the mother of two boys came to write The Mother-Daughter Book Club series!
The initial spark actually came from my editor at the time, Alyssa Eisner Henkin. She called me up one day out of the blue and said, “Heather, there are mother-daughter book clubs sprouting up all over the place—I think it would be fun if someone wrote a story about one. How about you?”
Stunned silence on my end of the phone. Had she forgotten that I have two SONS? I’ve never been in a mother-daughter book club, and I never will be! But then she went on to say that she remembered I’d spent my middle school years in Concord, Massachusetts, where Louisa May Alcott lived when she wrote Little Women. “You could have the book club read that,” she suggested.
Well, she had me at “Louisa.” I was instantly hooked! I used to save my babysitting money for the entrance fee to Orchard House, Louisa May Alcott’s historic home in Concord. At least once a year I’d ride my bike over and tour the house, dreaming of being an author myself one day. How could I pass up an opportunity like this? And so, armed with a title and that idea, I was off and running in search of characters and a plot. And the rest, as they say, is history. Love this bookmark: The-Mother-Daughter-Book-Club-series.png
Luckily, I am partnered with Heather Vogel Frederick and Stiletto Storytime with a blog hop and book set giveaway! Interested in winning your own beautiful set of Spy Mice books?
Fill out the form below! Good luck! (Bonus entries include: Commenting on one of the blog hop pages, liking The Styling Librarian’s Facebook page, following http://stilettostorytime.wordpress.com, following @stylinlibrarian @StiletoStrytime and @HVFrederick, mentioning this contest on your blog/Twitter/Facebook!)
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