Today we kick off an exciting year of interviews with debut authors and illustrators (in addition to seasoned professionals). First up is picture book author Megan Maynor www.meganmaynor.com whose debut picture book, ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER, just released this week. be sure to enter her giveaway at the end of this interview!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
Previously, I worked as an advertising copywriter. I was drawn to picture books because they looked like fun and not too intimidating. (Similarly, I was drawn to advertising because it looked like fun and you could have toys on your desk.) In both cases, the artful simplicity of the final product belies the work that goes into it. Also, in both cases, once I figured that out, I was already hooked. I put in the hours.
Congrats on your debut, ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER! Tell us about it and what inspired you to write it.
The idea came in part from goofing around with my kids, saying things like, “We need some milk. Better stop at the library.” And they would say, “Noooo! There’s no milk at the library!” And so on.
It got me thinking about how funny it is to kids when you mix things up, and how much fun it is for them to be the experts—to have the knowledge to correct you, the grown-up.
So, I wrote a funny conversation between Ella and Penguin where Penguin was always mixed up about everything. It was funny. But it wasn’t a book. It wasn’t a whole story. It was a girl and a Penguin having a conversation.
Thus began the years-long journey of figuring out what the STORY for these two characters should be.
Was your journey to publication long and arduous, short and easy, or somewhere in between?
From the time I earnestly started writing for children until I sold my first book, it was ten years—then two more years before the book hit the shelves.
So, the process was long, but I wouldn’t necessarily say arduous. Discouraging at times? Definitely.
But it was also encouraging enough, at just the right intervals, to keep me going.
One of the upsides of the long road, is that I’ve had time to connect with the children’s literature community and find my people. So now, as we’re hitting some milestones, we get to celebrate TOGETHER!
What projects are you working on now?
More picture books. Always more picture books!
What advice would you give to aspiring authors to get their picture books published?
1. Read the canon. Read the classic works in our field. And read books from the last five years.
2. Find critique partners.
3. Read your work aloud.
4. Don’t forget to submit your work! Sounds crazy, but sometimes writers revise and revise and revise and are too exhausted, nervous, intimidated or overwhelmed to complete the submissions process.
Your story needs to eventually hit the pavement and look for work.
And while it’s out there knocking on doors, start the next story. If the first story cannot find a job, pat it on the back, say “good try,” and keep going with the next story.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I was really into airplanes and aviation when I was younger. (I blame Top Gun.) I took flying lessons when I was still a teenager and could pilot a little two-person plane. I was *this close* to earning my pilot’s license.
Where can people find you online?
website: meganmaynor.com Twitter: @megan_maynor
Megan Maynor is a former advertising copywriter and author of picture books ELLA AND PENGUIN STICK TOGETHER and ELLA AND PENGUIN: A PERFECT MATCH (coming 2017), both from HarperCollins Children’s Books. She lives in Minnesota with her husband and three children.