Children’s Author Interview

   Lori Calabrese, Children’s Author

       
       1. Tell us a bit about yourself, Lori.
      
       Let’s see…I guess I’d say I’m a person who wears many different hats.
       I grew up on Long Island in New York and will always consider
       myself a New Yorker at heart! I’m a former television producer who
       wrote scripts for TV Shows and DVDs and had the fortunate
       opportunity to travel all over the world for ten years. Then after the
       birth of my two sons, I rediscovered my love of writing and decided
       to make the full-time leap into freelance writing.
      
       I haven’t turned back since, writing for various children’s magazines,
       being the national children’s books examiner for Examiner.com,
       blogging by day and night, and focusing on my love of writing the
       best children’s books I can write.
      
       2. Who was your favourite author as a child? Has that
       changed over the years?
      
       I had so many favorite authors growing up, and was very fortunate
       that my Mom made sure we had a bunch of books in our house.
       What’s really cool is that she saved most of them and recently
       handed over a huge cardboard box of many of my children’s books
       from when I was little, so I’m grateful for that! But the one who
       stands out the most to me is Mike McClintock, author of The Fly Went
       By. I still get goose bumps when I see the cover of that book and I’m
       so mesmerized by his creativity, his perfect flowing rhyme, and the
       way that story just rolls off your tongue. I never get tired of reading
       that one and it hasn’t changed over the years. I love that I’m able to
       share that one with my own children.
      
       A quick story… I was doing a school visit and when one of the
       students asked me about my favorite books growing up, I mentioned
       The Fly Went By and the only one in the room who had heard of it
       was the teacher! I guess I just figured that one should be mandatory
       reading for everyone!
      
       Of course, my stable of favorite authors has grown to include many
       others such as Deb Lund, Tedd Arnold, Mark Teague, and Chris Van
       Dusen, but it’s amazing the effect that one book can have on a person!
       
        3. What inspired you to write for children, Lori?
      
       I have to credit that one to my two boys! Reading to them every night
       and making countless trips to the library just fueled my passion for
       writing for children. There’s nothing like cuddling up in bed with
       your own kids and discovering an entertaining story together. I
       cherish that time with them more than anything because I love to see
       their faces light up when they’re fascinated by a part of the story,
       when they laugh and find something funny, or even when they don’t
       understand something and want to know why. A children’s book is so
       magical to me because of those experiences I’ve had with my kids
       and I just knew that I wanted to write a story that a parent could
       read to their child and experience the moments that I’ve had with
       mine.
      
       4. Tell us a bit about your new book, Lori.
      
       The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade is a picture book for
       ages 2-8 that follows Matt on a quest to win his school’s Bug-A-Fair.
       When Matt pries a strange bug off the grille of Dad’s car, he knows
       this bug is truly unique and thinks its just what he needs to finally
       win! However, Matt wakes the next morning with another bug–a
       cold! Things get exciting when the bug (the insect and the cold) dive
       into third grade and wreak havoc on his school, his teacher and his
       classmates.
      


       5. What was your inspiration for writing it?
      
       A stomach bug. Can you believe this story came together all because
       of a rotten ole’ stomach bug? It just attests to the fact that inspiration
       can come from the strangest places.
      
       Turns out, my son had come down with one of those dreaded
       stomach bugs that hops from one person to the next like the plague!
       Well when everybody asked me how he was doing, I always replied,
       “He caught the bug!” The more I said it, the more something drilled
       into my head that there was a story there! I mean why do we say
       we’ve caught a bug when we’re sick? English can really be a strange,
       but fascinating language! So I expanded on the play of words of
       getting sick and catching an insect and a million revisions later, I
       finally had The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade. 
        
       6. How long did it take you to write the book from the time you
       started writing the book up to publication?
      
       Way longer than I ever imagined it would take to write a children’s
       book! It’s funny how you can read a ton of books and think that it’s
       the easiest thing in the world, but when you finally get the itch and
       attempt to scratch it yourself, you realize the amount of work that
       goes into perfecting the story, the rhyme, and the whole package.
      
       I started writing The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade in
       2007 and it took about a year and a half to perfect. I submitted the
       story to Dragonfly Publishing, Inc’s picture book contest in 2009 and
       it was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. It took another
       year for the illustrations to be completed and it just buzzed to life on
       August 4, 2010! I think many would actually consider it a pretty
       quick turnaround in the world of children’s publishing, but for
       someone who was used to the fast-paced action of LIVE TV, it’s
       seemed like an eternity to me.
      
       What’s funny is that I was cleaning out my old files the other day and
       stumbled across my folder for The Bug. I really got a kick out of
       seeing how the story transformed into what it did and the various
       twists and turns that happened along the way.
      
       7. What would you like the reader to take away from
       it?
      
       I want it to be the prescription for a good ole’ hearty belly laugh–ya’
       know the ones that just burst straight from the depths of your gut?
       I’ll even take a smile or two because I just want the book to be
       entertaining more than anything. Hopefully along the way, young
       readers will pick up the subtle hints about germs, extinction, and the
       hines emerald dragonfly, but more than anything, a burst of laughter
       will do the trick!
      
       8. Do you have tips for aspiring writers?
      
       I love this question because I still think of myself as an aspiring
       writer! Anyone have any tips for me?? I think as a writer, the learning
       process never ends and there are new tricks of the trade to learn
       every day. For those just starting out, I highly recommend the
       internet! There are so many generous authors out there who have
       given of their time and blood to share links, articles and classes that
       will lead you in the right direction. I took about a year just to
       research the publishing industry, and learn the ins and outs. And
       there are a lot of ins and outs from how to hone your writing skills,
       how to submit, how to write a query letter, how to find agents and
       publishers, etc…
      
       And some great advice is to read and write as much as you can! Read
       other books in your genre to learn what you like about how the story
       is crafted, how they work well, and why that book is successful. Write
       to hone your skills because it’s really true, the more you write, the
       better you get! At least that’s what I keep telling myself!
      
       Thanks so much for having me, Irene. It’s been a blast spending time
       with you and your readers! 

        You are such a wonderful writer, Lori. I can only hope to be like you someday.

         Thank you so much for taking the time to have a chat with me today!

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3 thoughts on “Children’s Author Interview

  1. It is always so interesting to hear how stories go from the idea to the actual book. Thanks for sharing the process of your book with us, and also, that it’s not easy to write a children’s book and that it takes a long time!!!! 🙂 AMEN to that. 🙂

  2. Great interview! I’ve known Lori for several years now and it has been a pleasure to see her writing career grow in leaps and bounds. The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade is a terrific book, one that will leave you laughing out loud.

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