Mon 14 Jan 2013
That is, what book they are working on right now.
I’ve enjoyed reading other’s posts — especially the fabulous Melanie Crowder’s. Her debut novel, Parched, comes out from Harcourt Children’s Books in June, and you really should go pre-order a copy at your first possible chance.
But I wasn’t sure what I should write about myself.
The thing is, I’ve got lots of picture books in the works. One about rocks. One about a small football fan looking for a way to make a difference. One inspired by Olympic champion Wilma Rudolph. One about gum. One about — heaven help me — a boy detective who thinks his brother is a duck.
But defining any one of them as my next big thing kind of scares me. I mean, I don’t even know if they’ll sell and end up as actual books.
So I’m taking the safest path and answering questions about a picture book that already is sold, although it won’t be out for quite a while. It’s called Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story, and it will come out from Schwartz & Wade in the next few years.
All the Next Big Thing writers are responding to a standard set of questions. So here I go:
What is a one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Several generations of a family pitch in to create the perfect, mouth-watering Thanksgiving dinner.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I was sitting in a meeting that had nothing to do with families or food when the words, “Mama be a cooking pot, cooking pot” came to me. I had no idea what they meant, but I wrote them down and ended up building the book around them. It was NOT a quick or easy process. For the full, hair-pulling details of writing the rhyme that eventually became this book, see this blog post: Revising my way to YES.
What genre does your book fall under?
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one. My picture book has a mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle and four children who all need to look at home in the kitchen. Except maybe the baby. Jill McElmurry is illustrating the book, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of the Erin Murphy Literary Agency. My editor is Anne Schwartz of Schwartz & Wade.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
I’m a big fan of The Seven Silly Eaters by Mary Ann Hoberman and Marla Frazee. If my book could be a third as cool as that one, I’d be thrilled. And when I was beating my head against the wall over the rhyme scheme I read and re-read two books by rhyming master Dori Chaconas — Hurry Down to Derry Fair and On a Wintry Morning. They helped me see what was possible.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft probably took a few hours. The mind-numbing, time-consuming work was in the multiple, multiple revisions that changed the rhyme scheme and the kinds of food the family makes. My first draft was just a regular meal. The final draft was Thanksgiving dinner. That was a big change. Not much rhymes with “turkey.” And did I mention that I don’t really consider myself a poet? Getting this story into its final shape was a triumph of tenacity over talent.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Once I got started, I wanted to write a book that captured all the love and warmth and tradition that are part of cooking with your family. I learned to cook with my family from an early age. That’s why the book is dedicated to my parents, Allen and Jean Zietlow. I also enjoy cooking with my daughters. Just this weekend, we made anise cookies and brownies using my grandmother, Esther Zietlow’s, recipes. At least in my family, cooking is love. And I wanted that feeling of love and security to be embedded in every page.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I like the gender equality of it. Even though it’s an old-fashioned Thanksgiving, the men and women and boys and girls all help with the meal. It’s not just ladies in the kitchen.
I’ve invited some of my writing friends to participate in “The Next Big Thing” blog chain. In the next few weeks, look for blog posts from:
- Cathy Stefanec Ogren on her blog, Humor Me.
- And, hopefully, a few others that are yet to be determined.