Author Spotlight: Charles Ghigna
March 5, 2021
We are excited to feature author Charles Ghigna and his latest book, ONCE UPON ANOTHER TIME, co-written with Matthew Forrest Esenwine, illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal (Beaming Books, March 2, 2021). Be sure to enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thank you so much for inviting me into your Author Spotlight! It's an honor to be here. My name is Charles Ghigna. Most kids call me Father Goose. I live in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama and I have the best job in the world. I write books for children! I started out as a teacher. At night after school I began writing poems and stories. Years later I changed hats from teacher to author when I signed a four-book contract with the Walt Disney Book Publishing Company. One of those first books was a collection of my poems titled Tickle Day: Poems from Father Goose. After those first four books were published, I discovered I could reach more young readers with my books than I could as a classroom teacher.
My books soon became little magic carpets that carried me around the world. My magic carpet books took me on visits to schools from Florida to Alaska and Canada, from New York to California and Texas, from South America to England and France. I now spend most of my time writing here in my treehouse in Alabama. Every morning I climb the stairs, turn on my computer, look out the window, and start making up poems and stories and books. Sometimes I go outside and take long hikes to refresh myself and to gather new inspiration for my books. I like staying up late at night writing here in the treehouse when everyone else is asleep.
Congrats on Once Upon Another Time. Tell us about the book and what inspired you.
Thank you for the Congrats, KidLit411. I'm happy to talk about my latest book, Once Upon Another Time, and what inspires me. You may notice that many of my books are about the wonders of Nature and how much fun it is to spend time outside enjoying the natural world around us. I like to help foster in children a deep love of Nature whenever I can so they will want to take good care of this glorious planet.
One of my other recent books, The Night the Forest Came to Town, has a similar theme. Both of these books encourage kids to leave their screens, go outside, and discover a whole new world of simple pleasures waiting for them. I'm also inspired by the endless wonders of the animal kingdom. Some of my most popular books are about animals such as the book I wrote for Animal Planet titled Strange Unusual Gross & Cool Animals, and my humorous collection of poems titled Animal Tracks; Wild Poems to Read Aloud.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
When I began writing Once Upon Another Time, I posted part of my early draft online and invited others to join in the fun. Matt Forrest Esenwine read it and sent me several new stanzas he had written. I was impressed with his work and welcomed him aboard on the journey. Matt and I wrote back and forth via email for several weeks, developing the narrative, critiquing, and polishing. When we felt the manuscript was ready to submit, we both started sending it out and were delighted when Beaming Books took it, and thrilled when the gorgeous illustrations started coming in by the talented Colombian artist, Andrés F. Landazábal.
What is different about writing a collaboration with another author (in this case Matt Esenwine) than writing alone? Is it easier? More difficult?
I've only recently started doing collaborations with other authors. I'm working on one with Jane Yolen right now and another with David Harrison. Both of those projects are still in search of a publisher. It was great fun writing Once Upon Another Time with Matt. He is a young talented writer and I was surprised to see how smoothly our styles fit so seamlessly together into one voice. I look forward to working on other book projects with him.
What projects are you working on now?
I am working on several new manuscripts right now including two new collections of poems for children, three new picture books, a board book, and a beginning reader.
What advice would you give to your younger self? Is this the same advice you'd give to aspiring authors?
Great question! One of my new books begins with that exact statement. "What advice would you give your younger self." The book is titled Dear Poet: Notes to a Young Writer. You can click that link to take a look inside to see some of my advice to aspiring authors.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
Ha! Another great question! Don't tell anyone, but I'm probably the only person on the planet over the age of twelve who doesn't carry a cell phone. I know. You must think I'm a dinosaur. I am. I'm old school and I like it that way. I still use a landline and a desktop computer. That's all I need. I'm here at my desk in the treehouse writing most every day, often late into the night. When I'm away from my desk traveling to schools and conferences, I'm completely unplugged. Completely disconnected. And free. And it's wonderful. It's heaven. When I'm out on my hikes, I pass people looking down at their phones. They rarely nod or say hello. I'm not even sure they know there's a glorious, every changing sky above them. I feel sad for them. They miss so much. They miss the hawks circling above. They miss the endless parade of passing clouds. The whisper of the trees. The horizon. The sunrise. The sunset. Like I said, I'm old school. Old goose school. And I like that way.
Where can people find you online?
Charles Ghigna - Father Goose® lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than 100 books from Random House, Disney, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc. and other publishers. He has written more than 5,000 poems for children and adults that appear in anthologies, newspapers, and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket magazines. He served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center, American Library in Paris, American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America. For more information, visit his website at FatherGoose.com
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