WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
MAXINE ROSE SCHUR
Today is the second part of our double-header, dear friends. And I’m thrilled to bring you this Q&A with the lovely Maxine Rose Schur, author of the fabulous book that was our Perfect Picture Book selection yesterday, BRAVE WITH BEAUTY.
Maxine Rose Schur is the author of award-winning children’s books and teaches children’s book writing at conferences and colleges nationwide. Maxine has written books for preschoolers to young adults and as a former actress, enjoys engaging her young readers in lively discussions and activities.
Her picture book, Marielle in Paris won the 2019 Northern Lights Book Award for Best Picture Book in All Categories. Maxine’s latest picture book is the fun, wacky alphabet book, Pigs Dancing Jigs.
More information about Maxine Rose Schur and her critically-acclaimed books can be found at: www.maxineroseschur.com.
ME: Welcome, Maxine! It’s a pleasure to have you sharing your writing journey with us today. Thank you for your time…and for your generous giveaway of a copy of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY. I know everyone is excited to learn more about you…so let’s get started!
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
MAXINE: I’m so happy to be here, Vivian! When I was a child I absolutely loved Alice in Wonderland, the delightful and somewhat unsettling absurdity of it, enhanced with illustrations by John Tenniel. Tenniel was the original and most famous illustrator of Alice. His illustrations are detailed, atmospheric, and disturbing— perfect for conveying the bizarre imagery of dreams. Later I fell in love with Little Women, perhaps because I had no sisters and this was a way for me to imagine the fun of living in this cozy world of girls. Also, I want to mention a book that takes place in my hometown of San Francisco, The Hill of Little Miracles by Valenti Angelo. How I loved this book! It’s about an early 20th century Italian fisherman’s family living on a hill in San Francisco. Though Valenti Angelo wrote children’s books, he was most known as an artist and has illustrated many beautiful books. His family immigrated from Tuscany in the late 19th century and his style was influenced by the medieval manuscripts he saw in a monastery as a child. We met and became friends when I was an adult. Though his books are out-of-print, they reflect his positive spirit and love of family. They’re worth checking out.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing?
MAXINE Well, I’m not sure I can answer that because I think learning to write is a process and it takes time. You learn to write by writing. If you have any talent at all, you’ll get better, little by little. I don’t think it can be rushed. I was fortunate in that I started to write for children when I lived in New Zealand. I lived there after traveling around the world for more than a year. My first stories were about some of my travel adventures and published by the New Zealand Department of Education. I was so tickled to find that people liked my stories that it gave me the confidence to write more. Five years later when I returned to the US, I took a full-time job for Addison-Wesley Publishing Company. I couldn’t believe I could have a job writing for children— favorite thing! I wrote stories, articles and poems and hung out with the other writers. Once, my boss told me they needed a poem about soybeans by the end of day. Soybeans! I wrote the poem and it was published. So that job taught me you don’t wait for inspiration; you write.
To expand on that, the very act of writing unleashes ideas. Most often it’s like what the French philosopher, Montaigne said, “I write to find out what I’m thinking.”
ME: Where do you like to write – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen, and paper?
MAXINE: When I’m first figuring out a story, I write longhand and this can be anywhere—in bed, at the beach, in a comfy chair. I think the brain is so connected to the hand that thoughts fly out when I have a pen so it seems thinking and recording is a single action. Sometimes I wonder if my thoughts would come slower if I didn’t know cursive?
When I like where the story’s going then I go to my desktop computer in my home office to type it up.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
MAXINE: I write in the morning or afternoon. If I write in the morning, I find I have to get up and take a walk in the afternoon as sitting in a chair for hours makes me restless. I have to move.
ME: Why do you write for children?
MAXINE: I like the challenge of brevity. I like conveying ideas and emotion in a concentrated way. It’s not as easy as some people might think. Also, because I loved books as a child, I write books that I would have liked to read—books that inform, are suspenseful, funny, show a child’s agency and inspire by offering a sense of hope.
To end, I would love to quote a little verse by fellow children’s book author, Deborrah Rose. It’s is a little poem for all of us who may not make a fortune as writers but find great value in expressing what’s in our minds and hearts.
I’ve made it to an upper rank,
but not much money in the bank.
I see the books upon the shelf,
I see myself.
I love that, Maxine! And I know many writers will be nodding their heads. No one should go into this business to get rich with dollars…because most of the time, we still need to keep our day jobs. But I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else…and I’m sure you feel the same way.
Your insights are much appreciated, Maxine…and I know you have more awesomeness in store for us because I got a peek at the recipe you are sharing.
Maxine’s Perfectly Powdery Pecan Balls
Preheat oven to 300.
½ cup unsalted butter
1 T sugar
Pinch of salt
1 t vanilla
1 cup pecans
1 cup flour
How to make them
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy
Add salt and vanilla.
Grind nuts and mix with spoon
Add flour to mixture
Form soft dough and roll into little balls
Place balls on cookie sheet and bake for 45 minutes
Take out of oven and roll in powdered sugar to coat while still hot.
You can substitute almonds or walnuts for the pecans. Also, you could add a pinch of nutmeg to the batter and later sprinkle with cinnamon.
Oh my gosh! I LOVE pecan balls! Thank you so much, Maxine. I think quite a few of us will be making these ASAP.
Dear friends…please remember that the best gift we can give authors is to buy their books, review their books, tell others about their books, ask local libraries to purchase their books for the shelves. And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a copy of BRAVE WITH BEAUTY.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. August is fading fast…Monday is my house closing…and I will be living with my daughter and her family full-time…I am soooo excited!
WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Photo courtesy: Carter Hasegawa
I’ve met today’s Will Write for Cookies guest in person several times – at the NESCBWI conference in Springfield, MA, at the NCTE convention in Baltimore, MD, and most recently, at the Toadstool Bookshop in Nashua, NH. It’s always so much fun…because, as you can tell from the books Josh writes, he’s a guy with a GREAT sense of humor! And this is the second time Josh has been here – the first time was about five years ago.Continue reading