Saturday, October 16, 2010

Interview with Elise Primavera

I asked Ms. Primavera how hard it is to write a picture book.  I review a lot of them and there is a real talent in doing a good job at it.

Here's her answer:

"Picture books—seems like it should be a breeze to write one of these babies. Come on, there are often only 32 pages to contend with, and then there are all those pictures that take up a lot of room. So, not a lot of words to write—how hard could it be? Turns out pretty hard because that’s just the problem. How do you create a character, and tell a story using few words? That is the challenge of the picture book.

 My latest book THUMB LOVE had a built in conflict—thumb sucking. Right away I knew I needed to get my character to quit her thumb, but how? A 12-Step Program that’s how! This was a great little device to use to get my point across in a way that was simple. It also afforded me a way to use humor. I could make up my own steps based on my own recollection of what it was like to quit my thumb.

I do think the most difficult part of the process in creating a picture book is getting the initial idea. You want to write about something that is fresh and different but you start to think that everything’s been done. The thing is, pretty much everything has been done, but giving it a new slant, is what I try to do. The way I tell a story can make any subject feel new and fresh.

What do I mean by “the way” to tell a story? For instance, if I want to do a story about a monster under a kid’s bed –it’s been done a million times, right? But then I ask myself questions about this monster. Where did he come from? Why this kid’s particular bed? How did he get under the bed? Who is this kid? Is he a timid kid? Or is he a brave kid? Maybe I want to write this with the monster being afraid of the kid. The point is by asking myself these questions I am drawing from my own experiences and the book will reflect what is uniquely me. Asking these questions in the beginning, along with not editing myself too soon, allows me to be as creative as possible."

Thanks for the info Ms. Primavera!  You made some very good suggestions on approach in that discussion, I appreciate the time you took to write it up.

Here is a link to her book trailer, and that's also well done.  Check it out:

And don't forget there are two more stops on this tour:

October 17th – Picture Book Review

October 18th – Mundie Moms
And, last but not least, Random House Children's Books is offering three FREE copies of this book to those stateside.  Just email me your name and address and tell me why you'd like to have a copy.  Send it to info @ (take out the spaces).  I'd appreciate it if you would leave a comment here on my blog, too.  Best of luck to you in winning a copy!

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