One of the perks of my own mentorship under Stacy McAnulty, was being introduced to Camille Andros. Camille is an amazingly nice person with a great sense of humor, and she’s talented to boot. But when I found out she has six kids, I could not believe it. How could anyone with six kids find time to write, and look so put-together doing it? I got as jealous as Burr looking at Hamilton (I would never make it out of sweatpants if I had 6 kids). Camille’s first book, Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, debuts March 2017 and it is amazing. My hypothesis is that Charlotte the Scientist is Squished will get rave reviews, and Camille Andros will make a name for herself quickly.
I am one of the lucky people to have a sneak peek at your debut picture book Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, which releases March 14. Where did the inspiration come from and how long did this book take you to write?
The inspiration for Charlotte originally came from my husband. He is the sixth of ten kids and really knows what it’s like to be squished. But really if I’m honest, Charlotte is probably more me than anyone else.
The original manuscript was only 78 words, so it has changed and developed a lot from that first draft. I worked and reworked the story for about a year before it was bought and then I worked with my editor some more on it after that.
You are the proud mama of SIX kids! I think that a lot of writing moms out there want to know how you manage to find time to write. What are your time management secrets?
I wish I knew some secrets. Balance and time management are things I think about a lot. I don’t think there is any magic system, and if there is, please tell me. I could really use it. For me it’s a lot of early mornings and/or late nights. But you do it because you love it and you want to tell the stories that keep showing up in your head. I try to find some quiet time everyday to think and flesh out stories. Showers are a great time for this. I had the idea for Charlotte to be a scientist while I was taking a shower.
Tell us about your journey to becoming a children’s book author. What made you decide to enter this industry?
It was something I always wanted to do but never thought would happen. I remember I was sitting with my dad when I was a little girl, and him telling me he thought I would be a writer because I came from a family of writers. He was a writer (he actually owns his own film production company but he writes and directs his own scripts) and his mother was a writer so he thought I would be a writer too.
I was a huge reader, especially of picture books, and I never outgrew them. I would want to know the story behind different things-old houses, antique toys, vintage clothing…if those objects could tell their stories what would they be? I kept a notebook with me all the time (I still do) and would write down the ideas for these stories.
The career I thought I would have was in medicine. I always wanted to be a doctor or a Physician’s Assistant. I volunteered all through high school in the hospital and loved helping people. I loved the idea of being able to figure out what was wrong with someone and helping them get well. I loved the adrenaline rush of helping someone in an emergency and found I was very good at being focused and thinking clearly to figure out the best way to help. In college, I worked in the student health center and many years later after I had all my kids, I got my EMT license and worked in the emergency room of the hospital with plans to go to PA school when my youngest started school. I had a few years until then so I thought I would try this other dream of writing down all the stories I had in my notebook and see what it would really take to become a published author. One of the first things I did was join SCBWI. Then I found a critique group. Their help and input has been invaluable. I went to a few conferences and worked on revising my work from the input I was getting. I entered contests, I queried agents, I got lots of rejections. Then one day I got an offer from an agent.
How did you find your agent, Lori Kilkelly, and was the process of agent hunting hard for you?
I was sending out queries to a carefully curated list of agents I thought would be a good fit for me and my work. I had gone to conferences based on the agents that were going to be in attendance, so I could meet them and see if they were someone I would like to work with, and to be able to say I had met them at the conference in my query letter. I was also entering quarterly pitch contests on Twitter and received an initial offer of representation this way. After the offer, I sent emails to all the other agents I had queried to let them know I had received an offer of representation, and to see if they were still interested. There were a few other agents who expressed interest and Lori was one of these. I was able to chat with her on the phone and thought we would be a great match. Lori is fantastic and I feel very fortunate to have her help and guidance with my career.
At the time, looking for an agent was tough tricky work, but I was lucky to find one as quickly as I did. From the time I got serious about writing and started looking for an agent to when Lori and I started working together was just over a year.
What else are you working on?
Right now I have several projects in the works…a second book for Charlotte the Scientist, a picture book called The Dress and The Girl due out fall of 2018, illustrated by Julie Morstad, and a few other picture books, a middle grade novel, and a young adult novel.
Thank you Camille. To apply for a mentorship with Camille- http://beckytarabooks.com/contest/