In my opinion, books are the best accessory.
Thank you so much to Deborah Underwood for agreeing to this interview: Happy book birthday to your wonderful new books, especially BAD BYE, GOOD BYE, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Houghton Mifflin), published April 1.
I personally love keeping up with Deborah Underwood online through her website, Facebook and Twitter: @underwoodwriter. Her enthusiasm, passion, and caring nature comes out in all of ther posts, in addition to her books. I’m particularly fond of many of her books but especially The Quiet Book and The Loud Book. They’re fantastic to share with classes and additionally quite fun to recommend for students to borrow simultaneous. (I love hearing how families shared the books at home.) It was quite an honor to interview Deborah and also share this post on one of her book birthdays! So, happy book birthday to Bad Bye, Good Bye, cannot wait to pick up a copy!
Are you in a writers group? If so, has it helped you?
Right now I’m a member of two in-person groups, both focused on books for younger readers (i.e. picture books or easy-to-read books), and I’m also in an online group.
I love the groups, not just because I get great feedback from the wonderful writers in them, but also because of the friendships that have grown out of our time together. And it’s so inspiring to see other people’s writing get stronger and stronger.
I’m rereading THE WAR OF ART by Steven Pressfield, and highly recommend it for anyone feeling resistance, which nearly every writer I know does.
Do you have a new book being released in the next year?
Yes! I’m fortunate to have three books out this year. HERE COMES THE EASTER CAT, illustrated by Claudia Rueda (Dial Books for Young Readers), came out in January. BAD BYE, GOOD BYE, illustrated by Jonathan Bean (Houghton Mifflin), publishes April 1. And HERE COMES SANTA CAT will be out this fall.
What truly influences you as a writer/illustrator?
As a kid, I was introverted, socially uncomfortable, terrible at physical activities, and smart–a quadruple threat when it came to grade school social status. Books were, in a very real way, my best friends.
Although I love many adult books, I don’t know that a book will ever be as important to me today as those favorite books were to me when I was a kid. I guess the main thing that influences me is the desire to create books that might have a chance of being that important to some kid out there who’s in the same position I was.
If you weren’t a writer/illustrator, what occupation would you be working in?
Hm…good question! I could see working in some sort of animal advocacy organization. I also love singing; maybe I’d be one of those musicians who cobbles together a living by singing in various choirs and doing private gigs (and probably working at Starbucks besides).
Did any teacher or mentor specifically influence you in your career?
One of my best junior high memories is of when my 8th grade English teacher invited our class to her home for a few evenings and we read through The Tempest together. Then we all went to see a performance of the play at our local college theater. Her willingness to open up her home to us and share her love of Shakespeare that way made a huge impression on me.
*Do you have any favorite topping you like on your pizza?
Oh, that’s easy! Daiya vegan cheese, mushrooms, and black olives. Additional veggies optional, but the olives and mushrooms are required.
The best advice I’ve received for my profession was….stay out of the illustrator’s way. (It took me about eight years to understand that, though!)
The habit I never break for my writing/illustrating practice is…getting input on my work from writers I trust.
If someone had told me… how much time a writer must spend on writing-business-related things that are not actually writing, I wouldn’t have believed it!
Why do people always assume… picture books are easy to write because they’re short? Argh! 🙂
Debbie, you forgot to ask me…for advice I’d give to someone who wants to write professionally. The answer: aside from the obvious (work hard, be nice, don’t give up), I’d tell her to go see an accountant to get all the business details in order from the start, even if she’s not yet making money. Not particularly flashy advice, but useful.
Deborah, thanks again for this chance to interview you! Really appreciate it! Want to read more writing tips from Deborah? Recently, Deborah had visited with the wonderful author Julie Hedlund and answered questions on her blog, I suggest you visit there for more inspiration!
If you wish to read other author interviews, please visit this page: http://thestylinglibrarian.com/authors-celebrated/
I appreciate all of the support, makes my day! Honored by all the wonderful followers.