Who are some of your favorite authors you would love to dine with?
I wish E.B. White were still around. I’d skip the dinner part and just hang out on Maine at his farm. Maybe we’d just do chores together and share a few snippets of conversation about writing along the way.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Deadlines always keep me focused. When they’re not imposed on me by a publisher, then I try to set goals for myself. I am generally at my desk Monday through Friday, 9 am to 1 pm. That’s my routine, which I allow myself to deviate from often, just so it doesn’t feel too much like a real job.
What advice would you give parents on selecting the right books for their children to read?
Keep ’em reading. Ask the children’s librarian for suggestions. I was a reluctant reader, so I strive to write books kids can’t put down.
What advice you would give to new writers?
Learn the craft by reading other literature, by studying with published writers, and by showing up. You have to put in hours and hours alone, learning to find your voice and the stories that only you can write. That takes time. Patience. Passion. And mostly—Persistence.
What was it like to receive your first award for your book?
My first award came as a huge surprise. I remember going up to the stage to accept the Minnesota Book Award, twice in one evening for two different titles, and thinking, “I wish I’d written a few notes” of something to say. I had convinced myself other books would win over mine that year. It’s good to be wrong sometimes.
Are you working on a new book?
Always. In November, Utterly Otterly Night, also illustrated by Ard Hoyt, comes out. And next April, we will have a sequel to Some Dog!, called Some Cat! out. In the meantime, I’m polishing up a hush-hush project with American Girl.
What do you do when you’re not writing or promoting your books?
I love to be outdoors. I ride my horse, Sable. My husband and I spend time at our cabin that we heat with wood, and where we read lots of books. No TV, no internet.
Many thanks to Ella Johnson for this interview.
You can read the first part of this interview here.
You can also read more of Ella’s interviews with other authors of children’s books here.