Author Spotlight: Laura K. Zimmerman
June 24, 2022
We are pleased to feature author Laura K. Zimmerman and her debut picture book, MUSHROOM RAIN, illustrated by Jamie Green (Sleeping Bear Press 2022). Enter to win a copy!
Tell us about yourself and how you came to write for children.
Thank you for inviting me to your blog! I am a developmental psychologist who teaches and conducts research at Shenandoah University. Years ago, I wrote an educational e-book and edited 95 SU student e-books for children in Uganda, Ghana, and Sierra Leone. It was a lot of work, but I loved it and when the program ended, I looked for new ways to write for children. That’s when I began writing for children’s magazines. I started writing picture books because the way they blend illustrations and words together to tell a story is magical. I also love a challenge and picture books were a whole new way of writing for me.
Congrats on your debut picture book, Mushroom Rain! Tell us about the story and what inspired you.
Thank you! Mushroom Rain looks at the mysterious world of mushrooms and how they help create rain. I knew very little about mushrooms until I began to study Beatrix Potter’s research on them. It was her passion that sparked my interest. When I came across an article on how mushroom spores help create rain a couple of years later everything fell into place—except for the writing, of course, that took quite a bit longer.
|© Jamie Green|
Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?
Definitely long and winding. I began writing for children over ten years ago. I started in the magazine market, but was working on picture books at the same time. Writing was never my strength growing up and picture books were entirely different from what I had done before. I had a lot to learn and owe a debt of gratitude to the agents and editors who read and gave me feedback on my early “made every mistake in the book” attempts. Along my journey conferences, critique partners, analyzing other picture books, and revisions, lots and lots of revisions, have been key.
What are your favorite classic picture books? recent ones?
Harold and the Purple Crayon was one of my favorite books growing up. I loved the imaginary worlds Harold created with his crayon. I currently have so many favorites the list tends to change every time I’m asked. But it includes The Day You Begin (Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by Rafael López), He Leads: Mountain Gorilla the Gentle Giant (June Smalls, illustrated by Yumi Shimokawara), Dreamers (Yuyi Morales), and Red: A Crayon’s Story (Michael Hall). They are all wonderful examples of the magic that comes when words and illustrations flow together as a story unfolds.
|© Jamie Green|
What projects are you working on now?
A lot of my time right now is being devoted to promotional events for Mushroom Rain. But I am also working on multiple picture books, submitting, and (mostly patiently) waiting for the next sale.
What advice would you give your younger self, and is this the same you'd give to aspiring authors?
The advice would be the same. Write on topics that won’t let go and don’t give up. Some books need to wait for their perfect home, some won’t find one. But you will learn from each and every one. And it is never too early to connect with supportive critique partners—they are worth their weight in gold—reach out and find some. I tend to be introverted so reaching out to others took me more time than I wish it had.
What is one thing most people don't know about you?
As a child I wanted to be an Imagineer for Disney. I grew up just outside of Orlando and spent a lot of time there—marching in parades, senior prom, Grad Nite, the parks, etc. I wanted to be a part of the group of imaginative minds that help create the magic.
Where can people find you online?
Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest at @LauraK_PBwriter
Laura K. Zimmermann is a college professor by day and children’s writer by night. She has published numerous academic articles as well as nonfiction stories in children’s magazines. MUSHROOM RAIN is her first picture book. When she's not writing, Laura can be found teaching and conducting research at Shenandoah University or wandering through nature with her Goldendoodle, Tivy.
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