Monday, September 30, 2013
Interview with Author & Illustrator Patti B. Jefferson
Patti Brassard Jefferson lives under a palm tree in sunny Florida with her husband, Ken and their 2 rescued mutts. How Long Will You Love Me is the first children's book that PBJ has written and illustrated. She began drawing when she was a little girl and forgot to stop when she grew up. She thinks doodling is a lost art and has a special place in her heart for the smell of a new box of crayons.
You can find out more about Patti Brassard Jefferson, her work and World of Ink Author/Book Tour at http://tinyurl.com/pxvhsc7
Tell us about your current book. Give a short summary. (You can follow this up with any points you hope readers will take away with them)
How Long Will You Love Me? is a book about answering a scary question with some whimsy and reassurance. Children ask this questions of parents and grandparents. Spouses ask it of each other. I think its safe to say that each of us has at least wondered about it at some point in some relationship. This book takes the serious answer of love being endless and makes it a little silly and fun.
Can you tell us about your publisher and how the process worked in getting published?
The book was started years ago but it wasn't until 2010 when I got married & moved to Florida, that I was inspired to move forward with it. I sent a query and samples to an independent publisher who liked it but told me they wouldn't look at it seriously until it was completed. By the time I had it finished, that publisher had stopped taking any outside submission and I was stuck with no idea what to do next. An author friend of mine released her first book in Jan 2013 by self-publishing and so I did some research and decided to take that same path. I launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the project. A friend saw that I had written a book and referred Halo Publishing International. I shall be forever grateful for that introduction! Publisher Lisa Umina is an award-winning author herself and she just has a passion and talent for helping first-time authors. The process of editing, proofing, production and marketing can be daunting but Lisa has been there holding my hand the whole way. It's been a great partnership and I look forward to releasing my second book with Halo Publishing in February 2014.
How did you get the idea for this book?
Actually it was inspired by a remark overheard at a party: "I promise I will love you 'til this freckle falls off." I thought that was really sweet and I created a Valentine's Day card later with the poem it inspired. The rest of the poems just popped into my head slowly over the years. I actually ended up with too many pages for one book so there will be a sequel book, Forever and a Day, out in the fall of 2014.
What is a typical writing day like for you?
Ha! Most of my initial thinking about the story is done on the fly during the day while doing something else or late at night when I should be sleeping. I scribble notes on little pieces of paper and then transfer them over to a very grown-up looking, polka-dotted spiral notebook. Once the story is basically complete in my head and my notebook, I have been known to spend all day everyday between tweaking the wording, counting syllables on my fingers and sketching (and re sketching) the illustrations until it's done.Then I stick it in an envelope and walk away from it for awhile.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
I have written things that make me laugh every time I read them and I know that other are going to laugh at that part too. I get a real kick out of that. I crack myself up so writing, for me, is always fun.
What is the most difficult part of writing?
I think one of my challenges is that I know that I am the illustrator as well and so I fight the urge to not write anything that I can't easily draw. I think that can stifle my story and I make a concerted effort to not do that. I try to challenge my illustrator-self by letting my author-self just write the best story & characters I can and then stepping up my game to match it with the illustrations.
How has publishing a book changed your life?
Right after the book was released, someone sent me a picture of his young daughter sitting in her mother's lap reading my book together. Her expression is one of wonder and I think that was when I realized that I had created more than a book. I had created a memory for both of them. I wrote and illustrated a book and thats great and quite an accomplishment. But I feel even more responsibility now to make sure that my books are worthy of the time that a family like that is reading them & making those memories.
What are your plans now?
Right now I am focusing on promote this book. They aren't kidding when they say that "writing it is the easy part, marketing it is that hard part". One of the best things about self-publishing is that I know my "marketing team" (me with guidance from my publisher) is totally focused! I am also working on my second book which is called "Stu's Big Party" which is scheduled for release in Feb 2014 through Halo Publishing. It's the story of a lovable hippo who learns that people are all the same in spite of appearances.
What is your best tip for aspiring authors?
There is a Chinese proverb that sates "If you have something worth sharing, you are morally obligated to share it." I think aspiring authors need to have that "aha!" moment and realize that most authors do not write to hear themselves talk. They write because they have to share their story. They are morally obligated. When you are looking at it that way, you find the drive to make time for writing. You make time for illustrating. You aren't ever going to "find" the time - you have to "make" it. Once it's out of your head and on paper, find a publisher that has the same vision for your book that you do but is honest enough to tell you when your book looks too fat in its jeans.
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readership? (Here you can share about characters, historical facts, setting or whatever else you would like our readers to know about your book.)
I was read to as a child and I read to my daughter when she is little. One day, I will read to my grandchildren. I believe when you are reading to a child - especially an affirmation of your relationship with them - you are doing more than reading words on a page. You are giving them roots and wings - that's a powerful thing that can shape their lives. That's what I hope How Long Will You Love Me will be for the families who read it.
*Stories for Children Publishing, LLC. (SFC) and its divisions do not receive any compensation for product reviews beyond a sample and/or limited access to a paid website. SFC donates all books sent for review to a charitable organization. SFC may do a contest or giveaway of samples we receive. SFC does not review any samples sent without a request for review to the Blog Editor, VS Grenier. SFC's staff members will not return unauthorized samples to the senders, but will donate them without review.