Please welcome debut children's author Anita Banks. Anita harbored her secret of writing since she was in junior high school where the desire took seed in a creative writing class. She enjoys journaling, reading, running and traveling, but nothing compares to playing with her grandchildren. She's here today to talk about her new picture book, Tanner Builds a Block Tower.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Tanner Builds a Block Tower. What was your inspiration for it?
A: Thank you. The inspiration for this book, was my grandson, Tanner. On a visit when he was about three years old, he loved to play with his building blocks and build towers, over and over. He was fascinated with this repetitive play. We also went on numerous walks, he loved to explore the outdoors, and still does. So it seemed a natural fit to combine the two activities.
Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?
A: I have loved reading since my introduction to Dick and Jane and Dr. Seuss. I am constantly reading something all the time. When I was in junior high school, I had a creative writing class, that is when the writing bug stung me. But when family and life took over, I put the dream aside and just occasionally thought of it.
Q: Did you take any workshops or courses before you started writing?
A: Yes, I am a workshop junkie. One of my favorites was Walking on a Rainbow, a Fiction Picture Book Workshop with Mayra Calvani. I have completed a number of online workshops and also completed the Institute of Children's Literature course.
Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?
A: This book was created in the Walking on a Rainbow workshop a couple of year ago. I loved the interaction and instruction that was had. The feedback from Mayra and the other participants was fuel that I needed to pursue my dream.
Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?
A: I have a number of challenges, I sometimes over think my idea before I start writing, when I should just get the words on the page then edit. I struggle with writing too much and having to cut down to the small number of words that is required for picture books. Some day's it my own self-doubt of my ability and that I shouldn't try at all.
Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?
A: I'm sorry to say that I don't have a writing schedule. My "day" job is nine hours each day on a computer, so some days I just can't make myself look at a computer when I get home. I mostly try to write on my breaks and the weekends. My family time is limited to visits, since my three children are grown and gone, but I'm blessed with grandchildren.
Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.
A: I entered a pitch contest at Savvy Authors, and the editor of Wee Creek Press, Melanie Billings, asked to see the manuscript after she read the pitch, then she contacted me to make the offer.
Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?
A: Wee Creek Press selected the illustrator, Molly Courtright. I didn't have any contact with her. until it was completed.
Q: How do you define success?
A: Success for me is enjoying another day. Living the best person that I can be each day. But career success would be to be able to give up the day job and be an at home full time writer.
Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?
A: I don't know that I have made any sacrifices, you live with the choices that you make. I have chosen to write, so I have to learn to accommodate my life with that choice. I haven't achieve the full dream yet.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?
A: Read children's books, first for the enjoyment. Then a second time for the craft. Study books that you truly like. Take classes and join groups. I am in several Facebook children's writers groups. They are informative and you can learn from others that are in the field.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you?
A: I'm working on a chapter book, and I have a couple of picture books that I am shopping out.
Thank you so much for your time.