WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INSPIRATION – INFORMATION
I’ve always been a person who sees the silver lining in the storm cloud. My Sweet Dreams, Sarah may have been pushed from 2017 to 2018 and now to 2019, but I’m overjoyed to have connected with the debut picture book authors and illustrators of each of those years. Talented Jen Betton is one of the Epic Eighteens and I’m thrilled to know her and welcome her to Will Write for Cookies.
Jen Betton loves to draw and make up stories with her pictures. In Kindergarten she got into trouble for drawing presents on a picture of Santa, and she s been illustrating ever since. Her picture books include her debut as an author-illustrator, HEDGEHOG NEEDS A HUG, published with Putnam, and TWILIGHT CHANT, written by Holly Thompson, published with Clarion.
She has a BA in English, and a BFA and MFA in Illustration. She lives in Dallas with her husband and two children. You can see more of her work at www.jenbetton.com.
JEN: Favorite authors were C.S. Lewis, Louisa May Alcott, Madeline L’Engle; illustrators were Pauline Baynes (you can tell I love the Narnia Chronicles), Trina Schart Hyman, and N.C. Wyeth. I still love all these people and their work.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
JEN: How helpful it can be to pay attention to different book structures. Certain ideas fit better into different structures, and being aware of them makes it possible to play with the plot.
Also, when a certain bit of critique resonates with you, or even more when it doesn’t, think about the heart of your story. What is the underlying theme, the core of your story, and how does this suggested change align with that heart? This helps me a lot when figuring out what changes to make.
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
JEN: I usually write on my computer, but I’ll also print out a copy of what I’m working on and make edits on the print out. That way I can work on little thumbnail drawings while I’m editing the text.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
JEN: Definitely not morning! Midday is my sweet spot (because it’s nap time and the kids are asleep!), but really any time of day (other than morning) when I get the time and an idea.
ME: Why do you write for children?
JEN: In part because those are the kind of stories that I love the most, and the kinds of stories I want to write. C.S. Lewis said he told stories for children because that was the best medium for the stories he had to tell, and Neil Gaiman and Maurice Sendak have made similar comments.
I also write children’s books because I’m an illustrator, and picture books allow me to tell stories visually, which I love to do. I tend to think of the story as separate from the medium in which it is told – it exists on its own and then takes form in either words or pictures, or both. The picture book is this wonderful alchemy where you share the story between two different languages – the verbal and the visual.
And finally I write picture books because I enjoy sharing them with kids!
ME: EXACTLY! I totally agree, Jen! Thank you so very much for sharing all of this. And I know you have a fabulous cookie recipe to share as well.