Author Spotlight: Alison Marcotte
Jan. 21, 2022
We are thrilled to feature author Alison Marcotte and her debut picture book, SEEKING BEST FRIEND, illustrated by Diane Ewen (Beaming Books), out on January 25.
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Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
I’m a Chicago-based picture book writer. After graduating from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in journalism, I went back to my original interest of writing fiction and realized I wanted to focus on children’s books.
Children’s books have been the most impactful for me. Books that stuck with me over the years include If You Give a Moose a Muffin, The Magic Tree House series, Harry Potter, Madeline, Matilda, Judy Moody, and the Amelia's Notebook series. As a kid, these funny, creative books made me feel like anything could happen, that adventure was waiting for me. I want to write funny, imaginative books that capture that feeling of joy and hope and wonder about the world.
Congrats on your picture book debut, Seeking Best Friend! Tell us about the book and what inspired you?
Thank you! Seeking Best Friend is a cumulative picture book about a girl looking for a best friend, and unexpected creatures, such as an anteater, robot, and dragon, apply. When each candidate disappoints, she realizes she must be a good friend in order to find a best friend.
The inspiration came from when I was looking for roommates a few years ago. A lot of the descriptions were basic and standard, like “we both work 9–5,” “must be okay with cats,” “must be available to move in this month,” but some were funny and endearing, like mentioning their Galentine’s Day traditions or movie roomie nights. I was already working on a story idea about friendship, and I found that writing the story in a similar setup worked well.
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Something in between. I joined SCBWI in 2016 and joined a critique group in 2017. Through my critique group, I learned about more writing resources and communities such as Storystorm and the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge. I heard about the Twitter pitch contest #PitMad and pitched Seeking Best Friend in in September 2019. Naomi Krueger of Beaming Books liked it! It was acquired in December 2019. But then the pandemic hit, which caused delays worldwide in the publishing industry. On January 25, 2022, Seeking Best Friend comes out. Yay! I’m so grateful for everyone who’s been involved in the publication process.
What projects are you working on now?
I’ve been participating in Storystorm 2022 and trying to brainstorm 30 story ideas in 31 days. I’m also reworking manuscripts I wrote in 2021 to make them submission-ready.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Join a critique group, not just to become a better writer but also for the support. Writing is a marathon, with many highs and lows. Your critique partners are on the same journey and they get it — it’s hard! They will be there to help you withstand the challenges and keep things in perspective, and will be your biggest cheerleaders for small and big wins.
What is something most people don't know about you?
I love to sing! I was in choir throughout school. Now you can find me singing in my car to the radio or adding my name to the karaoke sign-up sheet when hanging out with friends.
Where can people find you online?
Alison Marcotte is a Chicago-based picture book writer. She’s a member of the 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, SCBWI, Chicago Writers Association, and Off Campus Writers Workshop, and a freelance writer for American Library Association’s American Libraries magazine. Seeking Best Friend is Alison's debut picture book.