|A Photo of Elizabeth|
Thank you, Elizabeth for allowing me to interview you. After reading over your blog, Banana Peelin, I’ve noticed that you have helped to promote other authors for quite some time. How did you get started in doing this? What led you to begin asking authors to share their ups and downs of publishing?
ESO: First of all, Kathryn, thank you SO much for having me. I can’t thank you enough for this amazing opportunity. I began my blog as a way to build my platform as a writer for children. To tell you the truth, I had no idea what a platform was until several months after started the blog. (Sheesh!) I really wanted to keep the site’s topic dedicated to a writer’s journey and for the most part, light-hearted. I had just finished reading Anne Lamott’s, Bird by Bird and there was a humorous part where she compared the humbling moments of being an author to slipping on a banana peel; One minute you are on top of the world, confident in yourself and your craft and then schloop, you’re flat on your tush. I embarrass myself quite often both in and out of cyberspace, so I thought this could be my blog’s focus. There was just so much material at my disposal!
A month after the launch of the blog, to expand the its reach, I thought it would be wonderful to hear from writers who had actually made it in the kidlit industry. I was looking to humanize the whole process of becoming a published author and therefore asked that they too share their most embarrassing moments. Thankfully, I had a really positive response from the authors I began to contact and soon enough, I had months booked in advance for the weekly series. I am absolutely blown away by how extremely generous this community has been with sharing their experiences. I have truly learned from their journeys and have had so much fun while doing it.
Both the blog and the series have become so much more than platform builders. I now see the blog as my connection to a wonderful community of people dedicated to writing and illustrating for children. I have made some amazing friends and am so grateful for today’s modern technology that has enabled so many like us to connect and learn from each other. The Banana Peelin’ series will have its first birthday in January!
I see you are also a writer. How long have you been writing?
ESO: I am a little embarrassed to say, but I began writing for children ONE YEAR AGO this month! However much I wish I could say I wrote my first picture book while in utero, I must believe that the time I did begin writing was a time in my life when all of the stars aligned and the wind picked up just to slap me on the face to say, “HEY YOU! THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO DO! GET WITH THE PROGRAM!” I have an extremely silly husband and children. That helped. I was taking a children’s literature course for my graduate program at the time. That helped too. I have loved books my entire life. It just made sense. Complete and perfect sense.
Without giving too much away, what are you working on right now?
ESO: Ooohhh, I’m so excited! I’m currently working on a couple of picture book manuscripts. The first is about a fearful dragon who is forced to face his fears to rescue a baby princess after his magic trick goes wrong and sends her into the tentacles of a pirate. Argh! The other is about a boy who turns into a chicken nugget. This is basically a true story about my son, only he hasn’t turned into a chicken nugget…YET.
Do you have a routine when you write? Are you an outliner or do you write as you go?
ESO: I don’t really have a routine down, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t tried to establish one. I once decided it would be a good idea to get up at 4:00 AM and write. Surprisingly, I didn’t stick with it. I also decided my children’s naptime would be a perfect time to write. But they just looked so comfortable, so I ditched my writing and joined them. I usually don’t outline to begin with. I just let the words plop out onto the page. Then, if I need to rework the plot, like if I forget to include little things like, oh, conflict, I will map out the story in the form of an outline. (Thankfully I’m getting better at remembering to include a little conflict.)
What are the last five books you’ve read?
ESO: I love this question! Can I cheat? The last five picture books I read were, Zombie in Love, A Sick Day for Amos McGee, Mostly Monsterly, The Quiet Book, and Children Make Terrible Pets. Those are some of the staples in our house. The last five novels I read were A Diamond in the Desert, Wonderstruck, Chomp, Tiger Rising, and Kira-Kira. I am a HUGE fan of middle grade novels. They’re up there with chocolate and coffee on my list of favorite things.
Let’s say you’re going on vacation for a week and that you have to live inside one book for this entire week. Which book would it be and why? (It can be a picture book, a middle grade novel, or a YA novel.)
ESO: I must say my answer is bittersweet. As a girl with a serious sweet tooth, I would vacation inside Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I mean, who wouldn’t? The thing is, I have absolutely NO willpower when it comes to keeping myself from my favorite treats. I would really just be setting myself up for failure. The first chance I’d get, I’d be slurpin’ down that decadent river through a straw and riding its chocolaty current right out of the factory! So, my vacation wouldn’t really last a week. Maybe a millisecond. But it would be SO worth it! Just call me Augustina Gloop.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
ESO: Too many! But for picture books I tend to gravitate toward the both the quirky and the quiet. I love Philip Stead and Deborah Underwood for their beautifully quiet books and then I love authors like Tammi Sauer, Oliver Jeffers, and Peter Brown for their wonderfully imaginative and silly ideas. In terms of novels, I love Kathryn Fitzmaurice =), Pam Munoz Ryan, Sharon Creech, Kate DiCamillo, and Sarah Weeks.
When you were growing up, did you have a favorite book or author?
ESO: I loved Roald Dahl. Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was the first book I remember reading on my own so it has a special place in my heart. But Matilda was my most-favorite book growing up. I look back at that period of my life with such fondness, my Dahl Era. I truly believe that the books I read during this time helped to shape my imagination, my belief that anything is attainable and my station as a life-long lover of books.
Thank you, Elizabeth! It was so nice getting to know you better.