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.
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific memory, but I do remember my mother reading a lot of poetry to us when we were little. Shel Silverstein was a big one, particularly his poem Peanut-Butter Sandwich. (Editor – This poem appears in his collection .)
I’ve never thought about that much before, but now that you ask I think it might be Max from Where the Wild Things Are. Not because I was naughty as a kid or anything, but because whenever I’m alone in my room or anywhere else, I easily get lost in my own imagination. It’s a good thing I wasn’t a naughty kid because being sent to my room wouldn’t have been an effective disciplinary measure!
For picture books I would have to say my favorite author is Karma Wilson because of her brilliant use of rhyme, especially in Bear Snores On.
My favorite illustrator, for the moment at least, would have to be a tie between Eliza Wheeler (left) and Claudia McGehee because they both appeal to my artistic side.
I’d have to invite Aslan (right) from The Chronicles of Narnia, because who wouldn’t want a chance to sit next to him at dinner? I think I would also want to invite Shel Silverstein because of his genius as a children’s poet. I would ask him to recite The Crocodile’s Toothache for us! Lisa Wheeler because I really love her book Spinster Goose, and she seems like she would be fun to visit and swap nursery rhyme puns with. Sharon Creech because she is my favorite, and maybe some of her brilliance would rub off on me. And lastly, I would have to invite my writing partner Corey Rosen Schwartz because we’ve never actually met in person!
5. WHICH QUALITY DO YOU THINK IS MOST IMPORTANT IN GOOD CHILDREN’S LITERATURE?
The most important quality in children’s literature is that it portrays a child-like view of the world, whether that child is two or seventeen!
6. IF YOUR OWN WORK HAS A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC, WHAT WHAT IS IT?
Poetic. I prefer to write in verse form, whether it is rhyming or not. And even when I write in prose, I try to be as poetic as possible.
7. IF YOU WERE TO DIE AND COME BACK AS A CHARACTER FROM CHILDREN’S LITERATURE, WHO WOULD YOU LIKE IT TO BE?
Lucy Pevensie, from The Chronicles of Narnia.
8. IF YOU COULD GO BACK AND REDO ONE THING IN YOUR WORK, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I’ve only published one book, so there isn’t much room for regret yet. Although, there are a couple of stories that were published online when I was newer at this, and perhaps overly eager. If I could go back, I might instead tuck them into a folder of beloved early efforts.
9. WHAT IS THE GREATEST PIECE OF ADVICE YOU WERE EVER GIVEN?
I read an article in a writing publication years ago that basically said that if you have talent, and you keep at it, you’ll eventually succeed. Whenever I felt like being a published author was never going to happen for me, I remembered those words of wisdom and kept going.
When I am collaborating with Corey, we do a lot of brainstorming before settling on a project. Then we open a new Google doc and begin writing together, line by line. We will sometimes split up to write on our own and then get back together to compare. We aim for perfection, and we always work until both of us are happy. It’s a challenge, but it’s usually fun, and it’s always worth the effort.
When I work on my own, I draft by hand in a composition notebook, trying not to let my inner editor interfere too much, and then the real work begins when the draft is done and I transfer it to the computer for revising. I feel freer when writing by hand, and sometimes when I am stuck during revisions, I’ll go back to the pen and paper to try and loosen things up!
Most of my work is done in a corner of the family room, which I confess I straightened up a bit before taking the photo!