Ann Whitford Paul became inspired to write after years of bedtime reading to her own children. She has published nineteen books, including fiction and non-fiction, rhymed and unrhymed, early readers, a collection of poetry and an adult book 'Writing Picture Books: A Hands-On Guide from Story Creation to Publication'.
For what age audience do you write?
While I write primarily for the picture book audience, I have two stories that need to be told in a longer format, so am working on middle-grade novels. It’s a whole new way of writing, and I struggle, and sometimes enjoy, the process.
Tell us about your latest book.
One of my latest published books, 'Word Builder', is directed at elementary age students who are just beginning to write. It was originally a poem in a collection titled 'Wonderful Words' by Lee Bennett Hopkins. An editor thought it would make a great picture book. Talk about concise. It’s only 88 words.
This Christmas I’ll have a new book out titled ‘Twas the Late Night of Christmas' - a retelling of the famous poem especially for exhausted parents. It is illustrated by the talented Nancy Hayashi.
Henry: 88 words!? Happily, picture book writers are not paid by the word. :)
What do you hope readers will get from reading 'Word Builder'?
I hope they’ll learn that writing is not unlike construction work, writing one letter at a time, combining them into words, pounding words into sentences, stacking sentences into paragraphs, etc. I hope thinking about writing in that way will make it less scary.
Henry: I'm reminded of the old saying. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
Easily first drafts. It’s so painful for me to get that down and it invariably is nothing like the idea I had in my mind. Unfortunately it’s only when I get it down that I can do the fun part of revising and shaping it into something I’m proud of.
Henry: Ditto for me. Revisions are easier than first drafts. That said, I can do a first draft on my own, while I find the involvement of critique group members invaluable to my revision process.
What is a powerful lesson you've learned from being a writer?
The most powerful lesson I’ve learned from being a writer is not to expect perfection right away, and that hard work pays off. I’d also add that talent is important, but not everything. More critical is your willingness to revise and to be persistent.
Henry: Indeed, I've heard that before. Successful writers must have strong craft and a strong work ethic.
Click to read the complete interview at Henry Herz's blog on fantasy and science fiction books for kids.