Author Spotlight: Kristen Schroeder
June 26, 2020
We are excited to feature author Kristen Schroeder and her debut picture book, ALIEN TOMATO, illustrated by Mette Engell (Page Street Kids (July 14, 2020).
Enter to win a copy below!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Like many writers, I re-discovered my love of children’s books when I started reading to my own children. Picture books are a unique art form and I became enamored with the idea of writing my own stories. I had no idea how much I had to learn! Finding the 12x12 community in 2014 put me on the path to publication.
Congratulations on your debut picture book, ALIEN TOMATO! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you! My daughter blurted out the words, “alien tomato” after school one day. We still have no idea why she said it, but I started thinking about a story. What if a round red object landed in a garden and the veggies thought it was an alien tomato? I added a cantankerous gopher, and the story took off from there.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
It was somewhere in between. I signed with my agent within eighteen months of sending out my first query letter. I was elated! But then it took three years for us to sell my debut picture book, ALIEN TOMATO. I kept writing and writing while I was on submission, and focused on the craft of picture book writing. I had a few close calls, e.g., stories taken to acquisitions meetings during those three years. ALIEN TOMATO was probably about the eighteenth or nineteenth picture book I wrote. By the way, the original manuscript that got several agents’ attention hasn’t sold (yet!).
What projects are you working on now (and are you able to concentrate)? Do you have any other books coming out?
I always have several picture book ideas percolating, and I recently completed a board book series that is out on submission. I have two picture books coming out in 2022: FREDDY THE NOT-TEDDY with EK Books and SO MUCH SNOW with Random House Studio. I’ve also been working on an adult novel, which is new for me. Creative work has been one of my salvations during the pandemic.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
There are no shortcuts in this business. Do the work. Never stop learning. Get used to waiting and keep writing during the lulls. Join all the kidlit groups (SCBWI, 12x12), take the courses (through Highlights Foundation, Susannah Hill’s Making Picture Book Magic) and challenges (ReFoReMo, StoryStorm) and make new friends (kidlit people are THE BEST). Celebrate every small step and enjoy the process!
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
I took up playing ice hockey in my forties. When I was in high school, there wasn’t a girls’ hockey team so I settled for being a hockey cheerleader. Fast forward thirty-some years and my son started playing hockey. I decided it wasn’t too late for me and I joined a group called Chicks with Sticks. Because I’m a scaredy cat, I don’t play on a league (some of the chicks are beasts on the ice!). I like to skate around on the frozen pond in our backyard during Minnesota winters.
Where can people find you online?
www.kristenschroederbooks.com Twitter: @klschroed
Kristen loves to travel and lived in Australia for 11 years. She returned to Minnesota with an Aussie husband, two children, and dual citizenship. She began writing for children in 2014 in between running a business and raising her kids. ALIEN TOMATO is her debut picture book.
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