Author Spotlight: Margaret Greanias
August 17, 2018
We are excited to feature debut picture book author Margaret Greanias and her book, MAXIMILLAIN VILLAINOUS, illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow published by Running Press Kids.
Enter to win a copy below!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I came to writing picture books in a roundabout way. In school, English was my least favorite subject. I was horrible at analyzing books and robotic at writing essays (perhaps that had to do with my word processor where I could only see 5 lines at a time!).
But during my last year of college, I took a creative writing class and fell in love. After college, I took fiction writing classes. I even started some short stories. But I never did anything with my writing until after my second child was born. If only I knew then what I know now! I had so much more time to write!
I’d read hundreds of picture books by that point and came up with an idea that I thought would make a best-seller (I’d write and illustrate, of course!). So I joined SCBWI and a critique group. Eight years later, I’m finally publishing my first picture book.
Congrats on your debut picture book, MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS. Tell us about it and what inspired you.
My debut picture book, MAXIMILLAIN VILLAINOUS, is illustrated by Lesley Breen Withrow and is being published by Running Press Kids on August 28.
Here is a short blurb:
Maximillian Villainous doesn’t have the heart to be a villain. When he brings home a bunny to be his sidekick, his disapproving mother challenges Max and the bunny to be a devious duo. Otherwise… the bunny hops. Will they give into villainy, or find a way to stay good and still win the family’s acceptance?
MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS was inspired by the “Despicable Me” movies. Early on, my kids were not the movie-type. Movies were too loud and long for them—until the Despicable Me franchise. These were the first movies to capture my kids’ hearts. They loved the humor, the colorful characters, their ridiculously ambitious goals, and their fun tools (fart gun anyone?). At the time, I couldn’t recall any picture books set in a villain world. So I combined villains with a theme near and dear to my kid heart (wanting a pet) and voila!
Was your road to publication long and windy, short and sweet, or something in between?
My road to publication was very much long and windy. I began writing in 2010. I did classes, workshops, conferences, online writing challenges. I did it all, including writing many “practice” picture books. Through several years in 12x12, I wrote over 50 of them.
I started writing MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS in 2013. It went through so many revisions and complete re-writes. In summer 2015—roughly two years later, I finalized it after an editor workshop. I found an agent late that year, and we sold the book almost a year later. MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS is being published in August 2018.
What projects are you working on now?
I love to play with writing so I have four very different projects I’m working on—
two traditionally structured humorous stories
one reverso story
one fairytale mashup
one concept book
None are far enough along to go into detail on—but if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get to share about them one day!
What are the one or two things you did that most helped you in your writing and publishing career?
Critique groups and writing friends: Having the camaraderie of fellow writers who are doing and experiencing the same things as me has been invaluable. They not only help me improve my work, they “get” me and my worries, provide moral support, and inspire me with their successes.
Editor Workshop: I took an editor workshop through the mid-south SCBWI chapter where we submitted our manuscripts, got a critique from an editor, then had the chance to revise and re-submit for another critique from the same editor. While I think critiques are invaluable, sometimes having so many different opinions as to what is working and what is not working can be really tough to reconcile. So it was helpful to listen to one trusted opinion and write directed at responding to that one source of feedback. That is how I finalized MAXIMILLIAN VILLAINOUS. I believe I did almost a complete re-write after the editor’s first critique.
What is one thing most people don’t know about you?
I have a bionic elbow! Just kidding . . . but it is made of titanium.
Where can people find you online?
I can be found at my website, margaretgreanias.com, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Margaret Greanias is a children’s book author who writes stories with heart and humor. She grew up in New York, Texas, and California, and now lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, three children, and a fluffle of dust bunnies.
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