Last week I reviewed a heart-warming friendship story called STICK AND STONE. Today I am exuberant to share with you my interview with debut author Beth Ferry. After reading her brilliantly sparse rhyming book last month I knew I needed to interview her. She is funny, chill, and gracious just as her characters. Do check out her website, l love the quotes.
1) Can you tell us a little about your writing journey?
When I first joined the SCBWI, it was to remind myself that one day I wanted to be a writer. The SCBWI magazines were important because they let me dip my toes into the vast unknown ocean that was the writing world. I could peer down and see what was going on without taking the plunge myself. I didn’t know any other writers and didn’t even realize there were writing conferences, so I basically just wrote without worrying about being published. I dove into my first conference in 2009 and brought a 900-word rhyming PB about pirates. It wasn’t pretty, but it was the first of many very important learning experiences. In 2011, I challenged myself to write a story under 200 words even though I am much more comfortable treading the over 500-word waters. That challenge resulted in Stick and Stone.
I agree SCBWI rocks! A 900-word rhyming PB, that’s not so bad. Hope you saved it for posterity’s sake. Very cool that Stick and Stone originated out of a challenge to yourself.
2) Do you mainly write in rhyme or prose? How do you know which style to pick for a story?
Boy, do I love rhyme. I love to read it and I love to write it, but I don’t often indulge. I tried writing Stick and Stone in prose, but I was getting bogged down and couldn’t stick to the 200-word limit I had set for myself. Once I tried it in rhyme, it came pretty easily. Many times I try to write my story in both forms. It’s time-consuming, but the form that will ultimately work usually asserts itself rather obviously.
3) Can you tell us about your writing process? I really enjoyed your post of comparing revision to rock tumbling. On average how long are each of the stages.
I think the revision process is never-ending. As I’m sure you know, it is very hard to ascertain when the story is completely “done”. There are so many hard parts – coming up with the idea, actually getting it down with a workable arc and then polishing, polishing, polishing. So I definitely spend most of my time – easily weeks and months – revising.
Good to know, my rock tumbler must be on the really slow setting as it takes me months to years to get to polished. FYI – my kids have a rock tumbler and they love it.
As a matter of fact I do. My favorite happens to be anaphora, which appears in the title of that post you referred to. Anaphora is the repetition of a word or phrase in the beginning of each sentence. Repetition is common in picture book writing because it allows the child to anticipate and participate. I really like to use it because it’s like a verbal underline and makes reading aloud much more fun.
Anaphora and alliteration seem to be popping up in my writing lately. Thanks for defining anadiplosis. Now I know why the chorus from “Glad You Came” is so catchy.
5) What was your inspiration for Stick and Stone? Did it have anything to do with the childhood rhyme sticks and stones?
My inspiration was a song by Train called “Drops of Jupiter”. There is a line in that song that goes, “Can you imagine your best friend sticking up for you even when I know you’re wrong.” That line really struck a chord with me and the idea popped into my head that having a stick “stick up” for a stone would be a fun twist on that childhood rhyme. So that definitely played a part in the idea.
Very cool. I never would’ve guessed a pop song was the start of it all.
6) Once you were agented did she ask for any changes to Stick and Stone? Did the editor ask for any changes?
Stick and Stone didn’t really require any major editorial changes, most likely due to its brevity. My agent, Elena Giovinazzo and I tweaked it a bit before it was submitted and then ultimately, I think only one word was changed once I began working with the wonderful Kate O’Sullivan.
7) Would you like to tell us a little about your upcoming titles?
Absolutely. I’m very excited to announce that Land Shark, illustrated by Ben Mantle, will be released on July 28, 2015 by Chronicle Books. It is the tale of a shark-loving boy who just knows that a shark will make the perfect pet. When his birthday present turns out to be a puppy, the boy and his family discover just how similar puppies and sharks really are. Keeping with the pet theme, Pirate’s Perfect Pet will be released by Candlewick in the Fall of 2016. It is illustrated by Matt Myers and follows a pirate’s journey as he searches for the perfect pet. I’ve seen the sketches and they are fabulous!
These sound awesome! Will definitely be keeping an eye out for them.
8) Anything else you would like to share with readers?
I think as picture book writers, there is always a bit of trepidation when it comes to the art. The art is essential in bringing the story to life and it’s the one area over which we authors have no control. So I need to share the joy I experienced in watching Tom create the characters of Stick and Stone. His art was absolutely spot-on and perfect – all an author could hope for.
Some rapid fire questions.
Fact that most people don’t know about you?
I only plant pumpkins in my garden.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a writer?
Favorite pick me up snack/drink?
Lemon cookies and hot tea.
What book is on your bedside table?
Without fail, there is always a Diana Gabaldon book waiting to be re-read. This week’s books include All the World by Liz Garton Scanlon, All the Light We Cannot See by Michael Dorrer and Bunny Money by Rosemary Wells.
Thank you Beth for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself. Wishing you many future successes.