|For my new feature, I am interviewing children’s authors/illustrators.My first is Deborah Underwood!
Author name: Deborah Underwood
Author website/social media: Website: DeborahUnderwoodBooks.com Twitter: @underwoodwriter
Tell me a little about yourself: I’ve been writing for kids for the last 15 years. I’ve written 13 picture books (I think–I lose count!) and 28 nonfiction books, plus I co-wrote the six Sugar Plum Ballerina chapter books. I live in Northern California with my kitty Bella. When I’m not writing, I like singing and baking vegan desserts!
When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes! Reading was probably my favorite thing to do. I read all the time: at meals, during school recess, at home in bed, and even in the bathtub! (This wasn’t a great idea. You can tell which were my favorite books when I was a kid because they all have wrinkled pages from being dropped in the tub.)
What was your favorite story? I had so many! I loved RAMONA THE PEST, HARRIET THE SPY, A WRINKLE IN TIME, THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH, and a book called THIMBLE SUMMER. And lots of others! It’s fun to visit schools today and find out kids are still reading and enjoying the books I loved when I was a kid.
How do you get your ideas? I don’t have any one way to get ideas. Sometimes I get them by sketching (that’s how I got the idea for the Cat books). Sometimes something I read gives me an idea. And sometimes they come to me when I am sitting quietly by myself.
Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? Yes, but it’s worth all the work. My first draft usually has some good ideas but a lot of things that can be improved. It can take months to get even a short picture book text right—sometimes even years! But I want my books to be the very best they can be, because that’s what I think kids deserve to read.
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? They’re all so different, and I am happy to have written all of them. I have a special fondness for GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES, which just came out, though. I think Juli Kangas’s illustrations are so wonderful! And I recorded a lullaby to go with it, which was really fun! You can hear it here: deborahunderwood.bandcamp.com
What author do you really like right now? Oh, there are so many of those, too! My friend Pamela Turner writes great nonfiction books for kids. Two of my favorite picture books are ME..JANE by Patrick McDonnell and Z IS FOR MOOSE by Kelly Bingham and illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Three things: 1) Read a lot! 2) Start writing. The most important part of writing is actually doing it. A lot of people say they want to be authors, but they don’t write anything because they are afraid their stories won’t be any good. The secret is that a lot of stories aren’t great when you first write them down—it’s the rewriting that makes them good! 3) Make some time for quiet. Sometimes you get the best ideas when you’re staring out the window and not thinking about anything in particular.
Thank you, Deborah! I will have a review of GOOD NIGHT, BADDIES very soon!