THE PROUST-ESQUE QUESTIONNAIRE: JULIE FOGLIANO

photoOur guest: Julie Fogliano is an author of children’s picture books based in the Hudson Valley, NY. Her first two books, And Then it’s Spring and If You Want to See A Whale were illustrated by Erin Stead and published by Roaring Brook/MacMillan. Her latest, When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons, is out this week, also from Roaring Brook/MacMillan.

The Proust-Esque Questionnaire is based on a set of 36 standardized questions designed by Marcel Proust in the 1890’s to give an overview of the respondent’s personality. Our goals are less lofty, but hopefully will provide some insight into how your favorite authors and illustrators work and what they love.


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Where_The_Wild_Things_Are_(book)_cover1. WHAT IS YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY OF CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?

Sitting on the floor in the children’s room of the library reading Where the Wild Things Are. Maybe I was 5? I remember staring into the page where “the walls became the world all around” and I was totally in it. I was there with Max. I still get that feeling whenever I read that book.

2. WITH WHICH CHILDREN’S LITERATURE CHARACTER DO YOU MOST IDENTIFY?

I think I’m equal parts Miss Nelson, Amelia Bedelia, Pippi Longstocking and Ferdinand the Bull.

ruth krauss crockett johnson3. WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK AUTHOR? ILLUSTRATOR?

That’a a tough one, but if I have to pick just one then Ruth Krauss (left, with illustrator Crockett Johnson in the chair). Other than The Carrot Seed, I didn’t know her work until I was an adult trying to write books of my own. She really rearranged my thinking about what makes a good children’s book.

4. IF YOU WERE TO THROW A KINDERLIT PARTY FOR FIVE GUESTS, WHO WOULD YOU INVITE?

  1. George and Martha
  2. Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson (left)
  3. Roald Dahl
  4. Frog and Toad
  5. Viola Swamp (to keep my kids in line so I can enjoy my dinner party)

5. IF YOUR OWN WORK HAS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC, WHAT WHAT IS IT?

Well, I seem to write a lot about waiting for something to happen. Waiting for plants to grow, waiting for a whale, waiting for the seasons to change, waiting for a birthday… I don’t know what that says about me. But, it certainly seems to be a theme.

miss Rumphius6. IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A CHARACTER FROM CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO BE?

Miss Rumphius! Have you seen her house?!

7. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

I would have stopped trying so hard to write a book and spent more time just writing. I was always working on a specific idea or a specific character. It took me way too long to realize that giving yourself room to wander is a lot more fun, and eventually way more productive, than always cramming words into a specific structure.

8. WHAT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE EVER GIVEN?

Get your butt in the chair and write.

9. DESCRIBE YOUR WORK PROCESS.

My process is this…

  • Step 1: make coffee
  • Step 2: drink coffee and stare out the window.
  • Step 3: keep staring out the window
  • Step 4: look at the time, discover I have to get my kids in two hours and panic
  • Step 5: write madly for an hour
  • Step 6: read through what I wrote and pick out the good parts
  • Step 7: stare at the good parts for a long time
  • Step 8: take away as many words as possible
  • Step 9: add a few words
  • Step 10: take away some words
  • Step 11: add a word or two
  • Step 12: take away a bunch more words
  • Step 13: read it out loud at least 50 times
  • Step 14: take away a bunch more words
  • Step 15: look at the time and race to school for pick-up

Frog and Toad10. WHAT IS YOU VERY FAVOURITE CHILDREN’S BOOK?

There is no way I could possibly pick just one…

  • A Very Special House
  • George and Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends
  • Many Moons
  • Bread and Jam for Frances
  • Frog and Toad (any and all)

11. TELL US ABOUT A BOOK THAT YOU LOVE, WHICH, FOR ONE REASON OR ANOTHER, HAS NOT FOUND A WIDE AUDIENCE.

What is a Color by Alice and Martin Provensen. Maybe it had a larger audience in its day, but it’s out of print now. I just love everything about it. I actually found an old ripped up copy on E-bay and took it apart and framed the pages. They’re hanging in my kitchen and they make me happy (and a little jealous) every time I look at them.


JULIE FOGLIANO: FACEBOOK | TWITTER

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