WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Because my picture book was slated to pub in 2017, I was lucky enough to become part of a great group of 2017 debut picture book authors and illustrators. They’ve been truly lovely and haven’t kicked me out of the group, even though Sweet Dreams, Sarah was pushed back to 2018. Which is fine by me because it’s given me a chance to be part of the chain mail exchange of ARC’s and F&G’s. (ARC’s are Advanced Reading Copies. F&G’s are Folded and Gathered…the actual pages of the finished book before they are bound together). And it’s also given me a golden opportunity to connect with all of these talented creatives, review their books, and feature them on my blog.
Peter McCleery is the author of the hilarious Bob and Joss series of children’s books, Bob and Joss Get Lost! (available February 2017) and Bob and Joss Take a Hike! (coming in 2018). He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he occasionally gets lost. His favorite things include kids (and adults) who laugh. He’s also written for Highlights magazine and for grown-ups on the McSweeney’s humor website.
Peter…we are so darned excited to have you here…I’ve truly enjoyed your debut picture book…as well as the wonderful post you did for the Picture the Books blog. I urge you all to read this…Peter did a survey and interviewed some of the debut authors…it’s an inside peek into why they wrote what they wrote on the dedication page.
Dear friends, I want to remind you that if you leave a comment below, you’ll be entered into the giveaway of a copy of Peter’s debut picture book, BOB AND JOSS GET LOST which I reviewed yesterday on Perfect Picture Book Friday.
And now we are going to get an inside peek into the who, what, where, when, and why of Peter McCleery.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
I was a big fan of Babar and had a bunch of those books growing up, which I still have. I remember being easily engrossed by Brunhoff’s fanciful illustrations. I could just pop open a page and become immersed in the scene. I especially loved the unique architecture of Celesteville and the how each animal had their own type of building that perfectly suited them. When I got older I sort of skipped typical middle-grade and YA novels and read a lot of Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes. What’s funny is that none of that style is apparent in my writing now!
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
How to be patient. When I first started writing I thought I could crank out great stories and be done. It doesn’t really work that way. I learned to slow down and take my time with a manuscript. (Some might say too slow.) Even if I write a draft really fast I will let it sit and steep like a good tea. Sometimes a solution or a new idea will pop in my head during this “downtime.” It’s important to make space for that to happen. The hard part is balancing that notion with actually getting things done.
Or all of that might be an excuse to procrastinate.
ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook?
I work in a bunch of different places. Sometimes at home or in my local coffee shops.
Although recently, to help increase my production (see answer above), I started renting a small office. It’s a very basic space in a medical/health office building. Gray carpet, white walls, etc…It’s me and a bunch of orthodontists and physical therapists! It’s funny to be doing creative work in such an uncreative space. We’ll see if it works!
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
I find that mid-day is my most productive time. Early on I tried working at night after the kids went to bed but I realized that my brain was fried and writing was a struggle. Being a stay-at-home dad allows me to write during the day when my kids are in school and in between errands or their activities.
ME: Why do you write for children?
This is such an interesting question! I think a big part of it is that I feel very comfortable with that age audience. They take easily to the absurd. They don’t quite know what the “rules” are yet. Every time they read a book they are learning, “this is what a book is. This is how a book works.” I want to leave them with the impression that books can be fun and weird and full of clever delights.
ME: Peter, if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share. As well as anything else you want to talk about that parents, educators, writers, librarians might want to hear.
I think some of the best writers are the ones most connected to kids’ sensibilities. Whether it’s humor, light or dark emotions, understanding relationships, etc., they get how kids think, how they see the world. Sure, adults should like and appreciate what you do (after all they are the ones making the purchase), but first and foremost the thing you are making should connect with kids.
I always try to imagine myself in front of a bunch of 6-year-olds (or whatever age range I’m writing for) with just my manuscript. It’s a scary thought, right? And it should be. Kids have no patience for the dull, the flat or the self-indulgent. Then I ask, can I honestly say this will hold their attention? Are there parts that would make me hesitant to present in front of them? If so, why?
Thank you so very much, Peter! This was amazing. I love that you suggest we connect with young kids if we are going to write stories they will love…it’s obvious that your connection with them is super strong!
And for all of you who want to find out more about Peter and his books, you can find him at http://www.petermccleery.com and at Twitter @pmccleery.
Okay friends…you know what they say…it’s not over until the cookie recipe is shared!
This cookie recipe is an old family traditional recipe. My mom makes them every holiday and so did her mother. While it’s a Greek recipe, my grandparents actually immigrated from Albania but there is a lot of cultural overlap. It’s not a very sweet cookie, in fact they taste best at breakfast with tea or coffee. The sesame seeds seem like an odd choice for a cookie but it works. Perfect for dipping!
My goodness…this is amazing! I love the way they look, Peter! And I’ll bet they taste even better. Not sure that the heavy cream, 4 cups of sugar, cup of butter and 12 eggs are quite what the doctor ordered…but hey, writers need nourishment…and eggs are very nutritious, right?
I know we all join together to thank Peter for his insights…and his wonderful recipe!
I hope your weekend is sprinkled with joy. And I hope you are all getting ready for #50PreciousWords…Challenge post goes live on Dr. Seuss’ birthday, Thursday, March 2.