WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Back in 2013, before I had taken any picture book writing classes and before I had attended any conferences, I really felt like a newbie. Luckily, there were fabulous kid-lit people who lived in my neck of the woods (I lived in Colorado Springs at the time) – and when an opportunity came to attend a book launch for Peter Brown and his MR. TIGER GOES WILD at the Tattered Cover Bookstore in Denver, one of my dear friends, Stacy Jensen, said she would drive. It was a fabulous afternoon, not only because I got to meet Peter Brown, but more importantly because I got to meet the two Julies…Julie Hedlund, the founder of 12×12, and Julie Rowan-Zoch, author/illustrator extraordinaire!
I asked Julie for a short bio…most of the time, when you ask a writer for something short, you don’t get it. But maybe because Julie is also an illustrator, she knows how to write sparsely:
Julie Rowan-Zoch Author, illustrator, bookseller, and activist: Julie Rowan-Zoch grew up collecting freckles and chasing hermit crabs in NY, and spent years slicing rich breads in Germany before waking up to 300 days of blue Colorado skies. If she doesn’t answer the door, look in the garden! Julie is on Twitter @JulieRowanZoch, Instagram @jzroch and her Blog.
Honestly, I am so thrilled that Julie stopped by to chat today! I’m so excited about her newest book which is also her author/illustrator debut, I’M HARE, SO THERE!
ME: Welcome, Julie! Thanks so much for stopping by. I know everyone is anxious to find out more about you. Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
JULIE: Hi, Vivian. I’m so glad to be here. As a very young child I remembered books and pictures better than names of authors or artists. My favorites were the Frances books by Russell and Lillian Hoban (though the first was illustrated by Garth Williams), especially Bread and Jam For Frances. I was a picky eater, and though I was not willing to concede any of my preferences, I did enjoy being seen! Another I loved was Caps For Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina. My father had a Chagall print hanging in the house that I was rather taken with too!
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
JULIE: Nothing really! I believe it has been to my benefit to pursue a career in children’s literature with the totally naive assumption of being already able to write and illustrate picture books! Ha! It’s not really a sense of vanity – I knew I would have to learn a lot, but somehow I possessed a sort of matter-of-fact, child-like confidence which kept me going! I only wish I had started on the path much, much earlier!
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
JULIE: All of the above, although I haven’t got a special room in my very small house. In bed if it’s early – or very late; front porch if the weather is fine; desk, especially if I am also tending to emails; sofa in all other instances. Back in pre-pandemic days I might meet up with a friend to write, for the company, the food (!), but mostly for accountability! Almost all my artwork is done on a tablet, but I am happy to write on paper as much as on a computer.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
JULIE: Anytime, but I prefer drawing first thing in the morning.
ME: Why do you write for children?
JULIE: I don’t think I do write specifically for children. Technically, yes, I am writing picture books which are meant to be shared with children, but I want to make myself and others sharing picture books happy too! Age is no matter to me as long as the work I do sparks joy.
ME: 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.
JULIE: For aspiring picture book creators: yes, read all the new titles to get an idea of the current market and trends, but I’d like to add that you should be hunting down older gems, preferably with the help of your local children’s librarians – they know what sings! And the relationships you build with them are priceless! It’s a wonderful thing to share with another lover of picture books!
For parents and educators: I am no expert on the developing child’s brain, but drawing absolutely assists with writing, creating, problem-solving on so many levels. I would like students to be motivated to draw as much as possible AND beyond an 8.5×11 sheet of paper. Use the chalk board, big newsprint, even chalk on the sidewalk (be mindful of amount and clean-up though – very bad for aquatic organisms!). And be mindful of your comments! Kids have been known to take up or give up pursuing passions based on one single remark from someone they respect.
ME: Ooh this is awesome, Julie! I so agree with everything you are saying. Especially about how what a parent or teacher says can be carried by a child into his or her adult life – both negative words and positive ones. We all need cheerleaders, and parents and teachers can be a child’s biggest fans – encouraging and inspiring.
Thank you so much, Julie…you’ve shared so much already…and I know you aren’t finished – you’ve got something absolutely delightful and delicious!
JULIE: You asked for a favorite treat, Vivian. I absolutely adore a slice of gooseberry torte, which I would often get from a local bakery while I lived in Germany. Here is a link to a recipe in English, but it’s not the same as the photo attached – but the photo shows the way I really like it, with a mountain of meringue!: https://www.daslebenistsuess.de/stachelbeer-baiser-kuchen/?lang=en
Oh my goodness…this looks AMAZING!!!! I totally want some of that! I also totally want to get a copy of Julie’s new book, I’M A HARE, SO THERE! And someone who leaves a comment on this blog post will be the lucky winner of a brand new copy that Julie and her publisher are generously giving away. Please share the post on your social media channels to spread the word – that’s how we can help our favorite authors and illustrators!
I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend. Please come back next week for a Cover Reveal on Monday, a Book Birthday on Tuesday, the announcement of the winners of #50PreciousWords on Wednesday and a Will Write for Cookies post a week from today.