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Q&A Blog

What inspired these Halloween-friendly picture books?

Click to read entire Q&As by these #firstpicturebook authors:

Joy Keller: When my kids were little, they had very specific taste in books. My daughter only wanted to read Halloween books, and my son only wanted to read truck books. I thought to myself, “Why hasn’t someone written a book about monsters and trucks? It could be called MONSTER TRUCKS.” Bingo! There was my idea.

Ed Masessa: Like many of my generation, The Wizard of Oz was my favorite movie as a child. It was shown once a year on TV and it wasn’t until we got our first color TV that I realized that part of it was filmed in color. The flying monkey scene might have been terrifying if I hadn’t been so inquisitive. As they threw Scarecrow’s straw all around, I always wondered what happened to his bones. I thought it would be a cool tribute to my childhood imagination to create a scarecrow with a skeleton.

Miriam Glassman:My eldest daughter inspired this story when she was very young and said, “What if there was a queen who so mean, all she ever ate was burnt cupcakes?” At the same time, I was somewhat obsessed with the score from the Sondheim musical, Into the Woods, particularly the storyline of the witch and her attachment issues with her daughter, Rapunzel. Somehow, thoughts of Rapunzel came together with those of the burnt-cupcake eating queen. I turned her into a witch, and imagined her as the sister of the witch from Rapunzel. I wondered what would happen if that baby was left in the sister’s hands to raise. Though I didn’t consciously set out to write an adoption story, that’s what it turned out to be. Perhaps subconsciously, I was thinking about my two adopted nieces.

Abraham Schroeder : Around 2005 or 2006 I was working at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston on a massive project to organize and catalog the collection of roughly 50,000 Japanese woodblock prints. Among them I found a charming image of bats and an umbrella from the 1880's by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi. Soon after that, the first little couplet started bouncing around in my head: "The gentleman bat, with his gentleman's cane, went out for a walk one night in the rain." The rhythms and ideas kept coming back to me, especially when I was out walking, gradually becoming more complex and interesting, and eventually I started writing all the bits and snippets down so I could start shaping them into a cohesive story.
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10 Tips for Writing Picture Books

1. Victoria Sherrow: "I had set a goal of writing and submitting at least one new story each month, including stories with holiday themes."

2. Miriam Glassman: "Write the story that is yours to tell. Don’t try to redo something already out there.".

3. Maryann Cocca-Lefler: "Stay focused, have thick skin and be willing to revise. Rejection letters are part of the process, learn from them and move forward."

4. Tara Lazar: "My stories always include a hidden chunk of my childhood."

5. Shennen Bersani: "Have a young child read it out loud."

6. Cheryl Lawton Malone: "Write while your kids are at the dentist. Write when your spouse goes to sleep. And when you’re not writing, read and think about picture books."

7. Deborah Sosin: "Go for it! Make the time. But ask for help. It’s too hard to do in isolation."

8. Audrey Vernick: "We were so stuck on one point and I had been reading some craft books and one suggestion was instead of trying to come up with one solution, shoot for five. . . . That proved to be a technique I’d return to."

9. Susan Montanari: "I had a dream [and] when I woke up I wrote it down."

10: Jean Taft: "I make a book dummy out of index cards for all my stories and work on the pagination from that. Sometimes I don’t fully understand how a story is (or isn’t) flowing until I make a book dummy."
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HALLOWEENA

Miriam Glassman is the author/illustrator of CALL ME OKLAHOMA!, selected as one of the New York Public Library's "Best 100 Children's Books of 2013." She is also the author of a humorous middle-grade novel, BOX TOP DREAMS. But today we are chatting with her about her very first picture book, HALLOWEENA.
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