Author name: Aimée M. Bissonette
Author website/social media: www.aimeebissonette.com; facebook.com/Aimée-Bissonette; Twitter: AimeeBissonette
Tell me a little about yourself: I am 56 years old and I have always liked to write. (I still have a notebook from 5th grade full of stories and poems I wrote that year in school.) I have two daughters and a very crazy dog named Guinness. (I have included a photo of Guinness for you – he loves the north woods!) In addition to writing, I work as a lawyer. Many of my clients are children’s book authors and illustrators. They are so creative and I love working with them.
When you were my age, did you like to read? Yes! In fact, I was so anxious to learn to read that I asked my friend, Lyn, who was a year older than I and already in school, if she would teach me to read. Every day after school, Lyn would bring her reading books over to my house and we would sit on the front porch reading. I have to say, she was an excellent teacher!
What was your favorite story? I loved reading mysteries, but I also really loved poetry. My mother gave me a children’s poetry book that belonged to her mother when I was little. I still have it. The pages are yellowed and the cover was torn off long ago – I think before I even got the book. It inspired me to write my own poetry.
How do you get your ideas? I walk every day – sometimes with my dog and sometimes on my own at the nearby nature center. I need to get away from my computer and phone to really think about my writing. The rhythm of walking seems to help me push all the busy work aside so I can think creatively. Like many writers, I keep a notebook handy and I jot down notes about things I see or hear (writers are always looking and listening!). I also write down ideas from things I read in the newspaper or non-fiction books.
Is it hard to write/illustrate a book? I think it is harder than most people think it is! That’s because most stories have to be worked and reworked many times before they are good enough to send to an editor. Because I write picture books, I also have to keep the illustrator in mind. Am I providing enough description to guide the illustrator? Are there sentences I don’t need because the illustrations will paint the scene so beautifully that words aren’t needed? That is my favorite thing about picture books, by the way. They are the result of true teamwork. My stories are made so much better by the artists who illustrate them. The combined words and pictures result in a new, separate, better work of art.
Do you have a favorite among the books you have written/illustrated? Not yet! I’ve only published 2 picture books so far, though. I have a feeling that even if I am lucky enough to publish more, each of them will be my favorite for a different reason.
What author do you really like right now? Oh, there are so many! One of my favorite picture book authors is David LaRochelle. His books are so funny. I buy them all. And David is the kindest man in the world. Check out “How Martha Saved Her Parents from Green Beans.”
Laura Amy Schlitz is a terrific author of middle grade fiction. I loved “A Drowned Maiden’s Hair” and “The Hired Girl.” I also am a big fan of Christine Hayes, another kind author whose “Mothman’s Curse” is just the right amount of spooky for middle grade readers.
What advice do you have for a kid who wants to be an author? Whether you are a kid or an adult, I think my advice is the same:
- Read, read, read!!! (Writers learn so much from reading other writers’ works)
- Be willing to rework and revise your stories: add new characters, take characters out, change the setting or the season, change the length of the story, dig for interesting facts you can add. Play with it until it feels right.
AND . . .
- NEVER let someone else’s criticism slow you down. We writers know, in our hearts, that we are writers. It’s what we do. We can’t please everyone. But we can be sure to not let anyone keep us from writing!