Will Write for Cookies: Peter McCleery + Giveaway

WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES

Plate of Cookies

INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION

FOR WRITERS

TODAY’S GUEST

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PETER MCCLEERY

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.

bob-and-joss-cover

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?

 PETER:

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?

PETER:  

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?

PETER:

I work in a bunch of different places. Sometimes at home or in my local coffee shops.

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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!

office

ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?

PETER:

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?

PETER:

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.

PETER:

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!

PETER:

 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!

cookies

cookie-recipe

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.

About viviankirkfield

Writer for children - Reader forever Mom of 3, educator, author of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH (Creston Books, 2018), picture book junkie, lover of travel, hiking, cooking, playing Monopoly with my 8-year old grandson and fly-fishing with my husband.

Posted on February 25, 2017, in Dessert recipe, Uncategorized, Will Write for Cookies - Author/Illustrator interviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 44 Comments.

  1. Your own office? Sounds heavenly! Good for you! Write on.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This was a great interview. Thanks Vivian and Peter. Peter, I agree with Vivian: making connections with your audience is important. And like you, Peter, I love reading to children, but it can be scary reading one’s own material.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Wow, wonderful interview, fabulous advice, and the cookies sound delicious! 😁

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Manuscript patience- helpful advice. This interview made me feel better about how, when, and where I write.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Another great post Vivian. Peter, thank you for sharing – especially the bit about patience…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wonderful interview, and the books sound delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Take Peter’s advice and you won’t get lost either! I’m with Bob, and Peter!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for a great interview, Vivian – and for sharing your insights, Peter! Look forward to getting to know Bob and Joss!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Thanks for the wonderful interview, Vivian and Peter. I really looking forward to Peter’s book and I love the fact that there’s a second one! The characters must be super loveable/relatable! Congrats, Peter!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The cover looks great! Congratulations. How neat you can rent a space to write!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you, Peter and Vivian. There is so much to love in this interview. I especially enjoyed “I always try to imagine being in front of a group of 6 year-olds.”

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks, Peter and Vivian. I find these interviews all very inspiring. Slowing down, and getting the work done is a tricky balance that I’m still learning to maneuver.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Yay, Peter! Congrats on the book. In a few months (maybe at the end of the school year) I want to hear if the office thing is working out. Do you have internet in the office? Sometimes I think I just need the whole web to go down. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of BOB AND JOSS GET LOST! Somehow, I’m certain it will be “fun and weird and full of clever delights! ;-)” Thanks you Peter and Vivian.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thanks Peter and Vivian. Great advice on creating stories that connect to kids first and foremost! Can’t wait to read BOB AND JOSS GET LOST! Congrats!

    Like

    • I think Peter hit on such an important point, Judy…making sure the story connect to kids is something we all need to keep in mind as we write each word. 🙂 Hope you get to read Bob and Joss Get Lost real soon!

      Like

  16. Great interview with Peter! His kids are very lucky to have such a creative and fun stay-at-home-parent! I look forward to checking out Bob and Joss!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much, Katie…I agree…being able to stay home while your kids are growing up is the best…but it is not for everyone. 😉 I loved it…left teaching and ran a home daycare so I could stay home with my kids when they were small. My son and his wife have also worked it out so they can work from home…and they LOVE it! But it’s not always easy. Hope you get a copy of the book to read…you will love it!

      Like

  17. Great interview! 🙂 I like how those cookies look!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Peter, I love that you’re a stay-at-home dad! I must find your book!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Jennifer Broedel

    I loved the commentary on taking your time and letting the manuscripts rest. I’m finding value in that (creatively speaking, I always feel a compulsion to crank something out in one sitting, and I have to remind myself how important it is to let the work rest, gain some objective perspective, and come back to it). I’m really satisfied with the results I’ve gotten from taking that time, researching writing, then taking the principles I’ve gained and applying them to the stories. My 12×12 critique group has been a great help to me in that regard. Thanks for sharing this wonderful exchange with our writing community!

    Liked by 1 person

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