WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT, INSPIRATION, INFORMATION
One of the most fun things about this kidlit community is that it is composed of people from all of the world. I have critique partners in New Zealand, France, and South Korea. Some of my fellow Storm Literary Agency authors and illustrators live in Switzerland, Australia, and Stockholm. I hope to one day travel around the world, stopping in to meet all of these amazing friends. And perhaps, if I stop in the Canada, I will get to meet today’s guest, Sara O’Leary.
Sara O’Leary writes for both children and adults. Her most recent picture books are A Family Is A Family Is a Family with Qin Leng and You Are Three with Karen Klassen. She has a degree in screenwriting from University of British Columbia and has taught children’s writing at Concordia University in Montreal. Her first novel, The Ghost in the House, will be published next year.
And here is the cover of her next picture which will launch next year
I’m so thrilled to welcome her to Picture Books Help Kids Soar!
ME: Hello, Sara! Thank you so much for stopping by to chat. Let’s start!
- Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
SARA: I loved Russell Hoban and Lillian Hoban’s Frances books. I remember being somewhat surprised as an adult to realize that Frances was a badger so complete was my identification with the character. Arnold Loebel’s Frog and Toad stories appealed to me for their gentle humour as did Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear with those sweet Sendak illos. I loved Joan Walsh Anglund’s Look Out My Window and spent a good few years drawing trees because of that book. Alice was also very important to me and I still have my battered green cloth edition of Through The Looking Glass. I also loved fairy tales and nursery rhymes and verse by writers like R.L. Stevenson and A.A. Milne. I think the echoes of all that early immersion in literature run deep in my writing. And if I could ever write something I love half as much as I love Ogden Nash’s “Adventures of Isabel” I would consider myself a success. Maurice Sendak’s Nutshell Library books are such a perfect marriage of form and content and I love them as much now as I did when I was small.
2. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
SARA: When I first started writing children’s books I didn’t really think of it as being who I was but more as something I did. Now I consider myself a children’s writer and very lucky to be one.
3. Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
SARA: Anywhere really. I write on a laptop for first draft and then somewhere along the line I write the whole thing out by hand. I also make a very, very rough dummy to get a sense of page turns and the amount of text on the page. At this stage I find I am able to eliminate a lot of text by imagining what the illustrator can do.
- When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
SARA: Anytime. And most of it is done in my head as I walk or do mundane chores. One of the reasons I like picture books so is that you really can carry the whole text around in your head for a spell and let it tumble around like a bit of dull, rough stone in a rock tumbler.
- Why do you write for children?
SARA: Because they are the very best readers. Because I know what it is to carry a line or two somebody wrote a hundred years ago around in your head throughout childhood and into adulthood. Because they laugh at my jokes.
Also, 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.
SARA: Reading is key. I was a child who was read to often and I often think of the line from the poem by Strickland Gillian: “Richer than I you can never be–I had a Mother who read to me.”
ME: Oh my gosh…that is one of my favorite quotes!!!
To find out more about Sara and her books:
And now for the sweet treat…take it away, Sara!
SARA: My good friend, Marina Endicott, is a novelist and also writes the most beautiful recipes. Once she had a good laugh over one of my overly minimalist recipes. It might have been this one for my mother’s variation on her mother’s shortbread.
3 cups flour
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/2 cups butter
2 x 9 inch round pan
60 mins at 300
SARA: Looking at this recipe I now realize that I do sometimes let the reductive impulse go too far! I fail to mention that the ginger referred to is the crystallized variety and that you’ll want to finely mince it. I also fail to mention the quantity required. But really that all depends on how much you like ginger.
ME: That’s okay, Sara…I think most of us would use our own tastes when it comes to adding the ginger.
Thank you so much, Sara, for sharing your insights with us. And thank you, dear readers, for spending some of your precious time here. Please leave a comment here or on yesterday’s Perfect Picture Book Friday post in order to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of A FAMILY IS A FAMILY IS A FAMILY. Big thanks to Groundwood Books for offering the giveaway. (U.S. and Canadian addresses only)
But wait! One more thing! We need to give away a copy of Melissa Stoller’s THE ENCHANTED SNOWGLOBE COLLECTION: Return to Coney Island.
And the winner is:
Congratulations, Tracy…I’ll be in touch and connect you with Melissa.
Enjoy this next to the last weekend in August, dear friends. And please do come back next week for more book reviews and author/illustrator interviews…and of course, more giveaways!
Another fabulous interview, Vivian! And with an inspiring another author too. Thanks so much, Sara, and thanks too for the delicious looking recipe!
I love the quote that you provided, “Richer than I you can never be–I had a Mother who read to me.” because I am happy for you. You have a treasure so great. My mother couldn’t read to me because she did not know how to read. But my teachers at school read to me so I was ok.
Thank you for writing children’s books and reading your books to children.
Sara, I love this reasoning…”Because they are the very best readers.” Thanks for all of your thoughts, Sara. And, thanks for the interviews and giveaways, Vivian.
Keen to read and share Sara’s books. I’ve been following her on Twitter. And I’ll definitely try the ginger shortbread – love ginger and shortbread.
I always know when I visit your blog that I will learn more about this amazing writing world I am a part of. Thanks, Vivian.
What a special and informative interview. I enjoyed her comment how she lets a story tumble around her head as she goes about ordinary activities.
I look forward to seeing Sara’s upcoming books. Thank you for the interesting interview!
Thank you, Sara and Vivian, for this inspiring interview. Congrats, Sara, on your upcoming book. I’m ready to try the ginger shortbread recipe 🙂
Great interview Vivian! Sara, I love the idea of keeping the whole PB text in your head and letting it tumble around as if in a rock tumbler. How true that is! Congrats on your book. I look forward to reading it soon!
Thanks for the comments.Writing for children has been a great gift. And I’m always happy to connect with people who care about the same things.
One of the reasons I want to write for kids is because books influenced my life so much as a child and my favorite books are still the ones I read early on or my mom read to me. Thanks for the recipe today!
I love reading these insights into the creative process, Vivian. “A mother who read to me” – such a treasure, Sara! Thank you for another wonderful “Will Write for Cookies” post (and the yummy recipe, too).
Love that quote. I picked up one from a Bible study last year that also has stuck with me. “If you can purchase a book and read it, you are richer than much of the world’s population – and doubly blessed.”
I loved the quote too! I am a wrtier and a retired first grade teacher and I believe that one of the greatest gifts one can give to a child — Is Read To Him/Her! So important 🙂
Sara, you creates such wonderful books. Thank you both for the lovely interview.
Thanks for this terrific interview with Sara. I love the quote also…I always think of that and how valuable reading is to children everywhere. Also, I love Sara’s minimalist recipe…I will add in lots of ginger! And . . . so happy that Tracy won a copy of my book! I sent it off and can’t wait to hear what she thinks. Thanks for everything you do for the KidLit community, Vivian!