BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB is one of those books that, when I saw it, I thought, “Yes! Brilliant idea.” And the book delivered, as it was every bit as good as it looked. So, when thinking about my Dream Team of mentors for Writing with the Stars, Annie Silvestro immediately came to mind. Anyone who conjures up such a great concept for a picture book is someone I would want to learn from. Fortunately, she said yes, and one lucky mentee (maybe you?) will not only discover the secrets of reading bunnies and skating mice, but a whole lot more.
BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB is one of my favorite picture books. What was the idea spark behind the book and how long did you work on this book before it was sold?
Thank you so much! Believe it or not the idea was sparked while I was dressed as a bunny for a Parent Show we put on for the children at my son’s preschool. It was a couple of years before I wrote it down and the story had a few major revisions (and tons of minor ones!) before it sold.
You were a member of Picture the Books, a group of picture book authors who had debuts in 2017. What was the best part of being in a debut group?
I am so grateful for Picture the Books—an extraordinary group of authors and illustrators who have been so incredibly supportive and helpful through every step of the process. The best part has been the bond and friendships it has created between us that will certainly carry on well beyond 2017!
How did you select the name Lucy for the character in MICE SKATING?
It’s one of my favorite names! I have two boys—if I had a girl I would surely have named her Lucy. This is the next best thing.
How long, on average, does it take you to write a new book, and how many do you write in a year?
Great question—that totally varies depending on the idea. MICE SKATING was relatively quick to write which was great. Bunny was much longer. I’m not sure how many I write in a year—this has been a slower writing year because of the learning curve with having books out in the world, doing school visits and signings, and all the fun that comes with marketing and publicity.
What were the things you worried about pre-publication that now, as a published author with two great books under your belt, you don’t worry about anymore?
I am a natural worrier! But now that I have been through the process I’m definitely more relaxed about how things work with bookstore events and school visits. The unknown is always the hardest part.
What do you think are the most important things you did while learning the craft? What would you recommend to all the aspiring picture book writers out there?
I think the most important thing is really taking your time. Be patient. Read and write as much as you can. Join the SCBWI, go to conferences, attend workshops, get critiques. Know that not every manuscript is necessarily a winner, but everything you write is part of a bigger learning process. Last but not least, try not to compare yourself to others.
You have a new book coming out next Christmas, THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS. Do you want to give us a mini-synopsis?
Sure! Thanks for asking! THE CHRISTMAS TREE WHO LOVED TRAINS, illustrated by Paola Zakimi, tells the story of a train-loving tree who, with the help of a little holiday magic, learns to love so much more. It’s particularly special to me because my oldest son is a train lover and, as a result, our family has spent lots of time on trains and at train stations. Our train under the Christmas tree is always a highlight of the holiday season.
What other projects are you working on?
I’m very excited for the upcoming Bunny sequel, BUNNY’S BOOK CLUB GOES TO SCHOOL, out in Summer of 2019. And I have a few ideas percolating that I’m looking forward to digging into next.
Thank you so much for having me and for including me as a mentor this year, I’m thrilled to participate and to share all I’ve learned thus far!
Thank you, Annie! Please remember to support the mentors by buying their books, leaving on-line reviews, and telling your librarians. Details on how to apply for a Writing with the Stars mentorship with Annie are here: http://beckytarabooks.com/wwts-contest/