WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
Anna and I connected in the Picture the Books 2017 group. We are on the same page about so many things.
Anna has taught kindergarten (me, too) and second grade, and advocates for and designs landscapes for play; her debut picture book, BAT COUNT came out with Arbordale Publishing in February 2017. BAT COUNT introduces bats, white nose syndrome, and the empowering practice of citizen science in a story of action, reassurance and hope.
Welcome, Anna! I’m thrilled to have you visiting with us today.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
I definitely connected more with books than with authors as a kid. We had a lot of Dr. Seuss around our house (I was terrified of those empty green pants), and Sendak. My lesser-known favorite books were Marie Hall Ets’s PLAY WITH ME and Evaline Ness’s SAM BANGS AND MOONSHINE. That little girl who narrates PLAY WITH ME was such a good girl, and Sam, in SAM BANGS AND MOONSHINE was so flawed in such a deep and human way. The two present a pretty interesting contrast.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you first started writing for children?
When I started writing, I was totally focused on getting published. And while getting more books out there is still a goal, I’ve found writing, all by itself, to be its own reward. It is such a profound and generative thing — it is this incredible excuse to explore questions and ideas that I love, and to dig into craft; for me, just writing, every day, is the real gift.
ME: Where do you like to write/draw – inside, outside, a special area in your home, on the computer, in a notebook? And when do you find time to write?
I used to write a lot by hand – morning pages, first drafts, etc. – in these great little notebooks that my husband brings me from his job. But the truth is: my brain is SO much faster than my hand, so my fingers cramped up. Plus my handwriting is almost illegible – even to me.
Now I mostly write a lot on the computer –even my morning pages. I feel a little bit guilty about that, but it’s good to be able to read what I write.
I still write a few things by hand, in those notebooks: workshops and meeting notes (I seem to focus and absorb better if I’m writing) and occasional poetry (always free verse – I’m hopeless at more structured poetry).
I have an old typewriter (manual — not electric) that sometimes I write on as well. When you’re typing you can’t constantly self-edit like you do on computer (technically you can, but it’s not worth the effort), so the words just flow. At the same time it is SO physical and tactile: your fingers have to really work, and it is noisy. I love it – and am always blown away by how different my writing is when I type. Plus it’s legible.
As for where: absolutely anywhere – though I do log a lot of desk time.
ME: When during the day (or night) are you most productive? Do you set a schedule for working or do you write/draw when the muse speaks?
Notes and scribbling happen any time. But otherwise: mornings. My brain is so much better earlier in the day. If I have a deadline I’ll do late, but I am so much slower and foggier.
ME: Why do you write for children?
Kate DiCamillo said about writing for children, “I love that books for kids allow for magic and demand hope.” HOPE is the real magnet for me. It is such a powerful – and necessary – ingredient in children’s books and in life.
A couple of weeks ago I went to hear the essayist Rebecca Solnit speak, and she put another overlay on the idea of HOPE that really resonated with me as well. She was talking about the tools that artists and writers need to have at their disposal in order to work through the overwhelming helplessness that so many of us feel in the face of the challenges of what’s been dubbed the Anthropocene Era: climate change and mass extinctions and their seemingly inevitable outcomes.
Solnit talked about HOPE as a critical tool, because hope is forward-looking – focused on the future — and it contains, within it, the seed of POSSIBILITY. And when you think about it, POSSIBILITY is what we all seem to always be exploring in our stories, and what we want children to experience a sense of, too.
Aside from writing about writing for children or – in my other life – about their play, writing for adults was never something I felt drawn to.
ME: That is so exciting, Anna. Yes, possibility! That’s what my #50PreciousWordsforKids is all about…creating an opportunity…a platform…for kids to become the storyteller and use their imaginations. Is there anything you’d like to say directly to parents and teachers?
Apropos of HOPE and POSSIBILITY: both are incredibly empowering. It is so important that we are always offering children opportunities to experience their own agency and cultivating in them a sense of their own ability to impact their world for good. Skills are important, but only to the degree that they enable us to DO.
To find out more about Anna and her books:
Her website: Hmmmm: www.annaforrester.com
or on Twitter @annaforr.
And Anna has a special recipe to share with us.
This super-simple recipe is my great, great grandmother’s. It makes a savory treat that is one of my – and my kids’ – all- time favorite comfort foods. (My mom used to make them when company came over; we make them all the time.)
2 c. grated sharp Cheddar cheese
1 c. soft butter
2 c. sifted flour
1 t. salt
dash of cayenne pepper
pecan on top (optional)
Cream the cheese and butter together. Add flour, salt and cayenne and mix until dough is smooth and well-blended. Roll and shape dough into rolls about one inch in diameter.
Chill two hours, or until dough is firm. (We often double the recipe and leave a few logs in the fridge for a few days.)
Preheat oven to 350. Slice the dough into thin rounds – roughly ¼” thick.
Place on ungreased cookie sheets about one inch apart add set a pecan of on top of each.
Bake for 12-15” or until slightly brown.
Remove cheesies from sheet with spatula and let cool on a brown paper grocery bag (the grocery bag is a key part of the tradition).
This looks really yummy, Anna! Thank you so much for sharing your great-great-grandmother’s recipe with us.
I think this would be fun to do with my grandson…he loves Cheese Doodles.
Have a great weekend, everyone! And stay tuned for tomorrow’s #50PreciousWordsforKids post.