Author Spotlight: Nancy Churnin
|©David Woo, DMN Staff Photographer
March 4, 2016
Today we present debut author, Nancy Churnin whose book, THE WILLIAM HOY STORY is out now! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of her interview to win a copy of her book!
Tell us about your background and how you came to write for children.
I grew up in Bronx, New York in a world of books. My parents had one room they designated the library and it was my favorite room because the bookshelves stretched from the floor to the ceiling. Even with all that bounty, I still made a weekly trek to our local library and was so excited when I graduated from a two-book check-out to an unlimited book check-out. I used to take out 12 at a time!
I have always loved to read. I remember I chose my freshman English class at Harvard University on the basis of which class required the most books. I enjoyed them all. I have a Master’s in journalism from Columbia University and love my job as theater critic for the Dallas Morning News. Still, my secret obsession remained children’s stories that I shared with family and friends.
I didn’t feel an urgency about publishing until Steve Sandy, a Deaf activist in Ohio, contacted me about William Hoy. The more I learned about this Deaf hero who taught umpires signs so he could play the game he loved, the more I felt in my gut that this had to be a children’s book.
With Steve’s encouragement I stepped up my determination to learn the writing techniques that would help me succeed in the world of children’s publishing. I learned a lot from 12 X 12, Rate Your Story, Susanna Hill’s writing class, Mira Reisberg’s writing class, Kristen Fulton’s writing class and my critique groups. Through 12 X 12, I got my wonderful agent, Karen Grencik, by submitting my William Hoy story. I also received a great and encouraging call from the amazing Miranda Paul when I submitted the same story to Rate Your Story around the same time. Karen believed in it from the first day and found it a wonderful home at Albert Whitman and Company. It’s been a fantastic ride.
What projects are you working on now?
I have a couple of manuscripts I’m working on, but I’m not ready to talk about them yet. One of my goals is to have multiple stories polished and ready for the editors and authors attending the WOW retreat that takes place in Georgia in July.
When is your next project due out?
No dates yet, but all in good time.
What is your typical process for writing?
I start with a person and an idea about that person. I write notes on pads of paper, I write an outline, then I put it all aside and letting the story run through me and on to the page. Then rewriting rewriting rewriting! That’s what I’m doing now on a couple of projects. Rewriting, rewriting, rewriting!
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Write what is in your heart to write and tell a story that is bigger and more important than you are. If you are working on something that is more important than you are, nothing can discourage you because good criticism is helping you serve the story and negative criticism is something you brush away as you forge on to serve a higher purpose.
Listen to your story and let it lead you, but if you are lucky enough to have people in your life that care about your story as much as you do, let them guide you when you stumble in the darkness.
Where can people find you on the internet?
On Facebook at Nancy Churnin Children’s Books, on Facebook at Nancy Churnin, on AlbertWhitman.com, on my website at nancychurnin.com and on Twitter @nchurnin.
What is one thing people don't know about you?
I love to sing show tunes in the car and at home and anywhere, frankly, where I know no one (but me and okay, maybe my friend Lauren) is listening. It’s quite the eclectic concert, particularly when Lauren provides the harmony.
Nancy Churnin is the theater critic for The Dallas Morning News. A native New Yorker and lifelong baseball fan, she’s a graduate of Harvard University with a Master’s from Columbia University's journalism school. This is her first picture book. She lives in North Texas with her husband, Dallas Morning News arts writer Michael Granberry, and in between shows, book signings and, oh yes, writing, they’re raising four boys and two cats.
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