I’d like to thank my friend and fellow children’s book author, Michelle Edwards, for helping me jump start my blog again by inviting me to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour. I met Michelle in St. Paul, MN at the first SCBWI event I ever attended. I was 22 years old and looking back, attending that event was probably step 1 toward my goal of becoming a published children’s book author. Michelle was a featured speaker that afternoon. Her first book, Chicken Man, had just been published. She was right where I wanted to be! We exchanged some polite words that afternoon and then didn’t see each other again for many, many years when we both found ourselves living in Iowa City, IA. Who knew that woman I listened to with such admiration would one day become such a good friend?
What am I working on? I have a new chapter book series launching next month. It’s called the Haunted Library. It’s about a ghost boy named Kaz and a “solid” girl named Claire who team up to solve ghostly mysteries and try and find Kaz’s missing family. I’m working on book 5, which will be out summer 2015. It’s called The Secret Room.
How does my work differ from others of its genre? Well, that depends on the “work” we’re talking about. My Haunted Library series is different from other ghost books for kids in that the ghosts aren’t really dead people. They’re more like…transparent people with superpowers.
Why do I write what I do? I write to make sense of the world, to connect, to entertain…all of that. But when pushed, I think the real reason I write what I do is I like to turn non-readers into readers, whether those non-readers are reluctant readers who haven’t found the right book(s) yet or whether they’re emerging readers who are just developing skills. There’s nothing more satisfying to me as a writer than to receive a letter or e-mail from a child who says, “I never liked to read until I read [your book]” or “[Your book] was the first chapter book I read all by myself!”
And how does your writing process work? Again, it depends on the project. With the Haunted Library, I start by figuring out what the stand-alone mystery of each book is going to be AND how the book is going to advance the series arc. Then I plot it out chapter by chapter. It probably takes me just as long to plot as it does to write the first draft. Then I revise, revise, revise right up until the book is due. It’s good for me to have a deadline because otherwise I would revise forever. I rarely miss a deadline (not without extremely good reason). When the book is due, I turn it in. Then I wait for comments from my editor. (Well, I’m not really “waiting”…I’m always working on a different book while I’m “waiting.”) When those comments come, I revise, revise, revise again until the next deadline. Eventually there comes a day when I’m not allowed to revise anymore. That’s when the book is “done.” But I have a hard time accepting the idea that a book is ever really done. If you ever hear me read from my published work, please don’t “follow along” while I’m reading. You won’t be able to because I will likely be rewriting it as I’m reading.
I recently moved from Iowa City, Iowa to the Seattle area. Lisa is one of the first people I met here. She is an editor as well as the author of more than 80 books and stories for young readers. Check out one of her books for middle readers, The Great Chicago Fire.
Waverly is another new Seattle friend. She is a writer, teacher, editor and writing coach. We met through Sisters in Crime. Like me, Waverly and her partner, Curtis Colbert, have a series of books about a dog detective. Check out their Barking Detective Mysteries. But theirs is for grown-ups and mine is for children.