Mary Ann Fraser Talks About Writing Children’s Books
Hello everyone. I am happy to let you all know, I am adding a new section to my website. I will be interviewing authors and showing you the amazing world of writing and what it means to be an author. Let me introduce my first author, Mary Ann Fraser who is talking about writing children’s books.
Mary Ann Fraser is the author/illustrator of over sixty fiction and non-fiction books for children, including her latest picture book, NO YETI YET (Peter Pauper Press). Other titles include HEEBIE-JEEBIE JAMBOREE (Boyds Mills Press), the OGG & BOB books (Two Lions) TEN MILE DAY (Henry Holt), and WHERE ARE THE NIGHT ANIMALS (HarperCollins).
Her books have received a Junior Library Guild Selection, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, Book Links Book of the Year, IRA Young Readers Choice Award, and American Booksellers “Pick of the List.” She is a regional advisor for SCBWI, and a member of the California Readers Association, Children’s Authors Network, and the Children’s Literature Council, and when she is not writing, illustrating, or giving school presentations, she is painting murals, playing her hammered dulcimer, in her garden talking to her turtles, or reading.
R: So welcome, Mary Ann. First, can you tell us what kind of books and genres do you write?
M: I write and illustrate picture books, both fiction and nonfiction, middle grade and young adult.
R: And what got you into writing?
M: I have wanted to write ever since I first learned to read. I think it was the ability of story to transport the reader that first captivated me. It was pure magic in my eyes–still is.
R: Sounds like a good reason to me. Now, what were some of your experiences, bad or good, you dealt with while becoming an author or publishing your work?
M: When I was at UCLA, I took a class called “The History of Children’s Literature.” For the first timeI began to seriously consider a career in children’s books, so I made an appointment with the professor to find out what I needed to do: which classes to take, how to better my craft, how to submit.
The professor told me that I should give up my pipe dream, that there were too many “really talented “people in the field and that my chances for success were minimal at best. Unfortunately, I listened to his advice and it was some years before I found the courage again to give it a go. Now after over sixty published books, I realize that my biggest mistake was in letting someone talk me out of my dream.
R: Wow, that’s crazy that someone would tell you to give up. I bet you’re glad you realized it was bad advice. Now we all have role models, but is there anyone specifically who really got you into writing?
M: Lots of people got me to where I am. Every time I read a book where the author took a chance and created something fresh with a unique voice or a surprising twist I am inspired. From the beginning I have also attended workshops and conferences through the Society Of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and am always agog at the talent and knowledge out there. Those are my role models.
R: I have to agree with you on that. Every time I read, I am so glad they took the chances they did, to create such awesome writing. Here’s a tough one: Who is (or are) your favorite author(s)?
M: Oh, that is a tough one. There are so many amazing picture book authors and illustrators to admire: Marla Frazee for her creative integrity, Chris Van Allsburg for his artistry and storytelling, Peter Brown for his child-like sensibility, Peggy Rathman for her heart, Melissa Sweet for her wondrous biographies, Melissa Stewart for her magical non-fiction. These are just a few. And don’t get me started on books for older readers….
R: I totally understand. Asking people their favorite author is sometimes like asking them their favorite child (lol).
M: Funny, that is exactly the comparison I always use. I mean, how do you choose, right?
R: Before we wrap up, do you have any words of wisdom for the up and comers out here?
M: Where do I begin? What I have learned over time is that everyone’s journey is unique, but I think iIt helps to know that with perseverance you will get there, just in your own time. And nothing can replace time spent with your butt-in-chair writing and perfecting your craft. No shortcuts allowed. Channel your inner child, and if you’re really serious about creating children’s books, respect your audience and read everything you can get your hands on. Better yet, read to a child.
Thanks Mary Ann. I appreciate your time and sharing your experiences with me and my followers.
Stay tuned for more soon!!
Check out Mary Ann Fraser’s book here: Life With Mammoth
To learn more visit www.MaryAnnFraser.com
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