Talking with Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen (page 2)
Talking with Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen
page 1, page 2
 
What suggestions would you give to someone who wants to write children’s books?
  If someone wants to write children’s books, I would recommend reading all the children’s books you can. Then, find your own voice and write about things that are meaningful to you. Children are not dumb, and can be more discerning readers (and listeners) than adults. Picture books are not easy to write, because in a 500-word story, every word must the perfect word.
     Develop a thick skin. Criticism is essential, whether it be from a friend, colleague, or even a rejection letter. My special needs book, We’ll Paint the Octopus Red, was actually acquired by the same editor who initially rejected it, simply because I revised based on her advice and resubmitted it. Above all, don’t give up! It can be an extremely frustrating business, but if the story is good enough, someone will like it.
 
  Do you have an agent?
  No, although that is primarily where I plan to send my middle grade novel, rather than to publishers.
Who arranges for the illustrator? Do you have any say in the design of the book itself?
  The publisher finds the illustrator. Usually, there is little or no contact between the author and illustrator. I have been very fortunate with my Elizabeti books — the illustrator, Christy Hale (a fabulous person!!) has used my Tanzanian photos for reference, and has called to ask about different things. For the new book, she is using a video that fellow PCV’s shot when I was in Tanzania. I feel as though I have had a lot of input in keeping the books authentic, although I have absolutely no say in the design of the books.
Is it possible to make living writing books for children?
In theory, I suppose, but I’m not at that point. It is possible to make as much as you would on a part-time job, but without having to leave home. One can make a good living off school visits and other appearances, but I’m just getting started there as well.
 
  Have you written and published anything for adults?
  Not yet.
 
  What are your current writing projects?
  I have just finished a middle grade novel, am at work on another, and I always have a picture book or two (or ten!) in the works.
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