author interivew, Kidlit Spotlight

[Kidlit Spotlight] Amy Parker [Author Interview]

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Back in September, for Kid’s Book Week, we had the chance to talk with illustrator of Night Night Farm, Virginia Allyn. Today, we are so excited to be talking with the author of this adorable kid’s book, Amy Parker. Amy, thank you so much for joining us! I can’t tell you how much my kids loved your book!

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Q1 – What is the best part of being a children’s book author?
The day that the books first land on my doorstep is a pretty amazing day. But the truly best part is seeing kiddos interact with the books, reading the books in schools, getting stories from mamas and grandmas and daddies saying how these books have touched their kids’ lives, how their first words were, “Night Night, God.” I even received a story from a woman who read Thank You, God, for Mommy to her own mother in hospice. And there was ANOTHER who read Thank You, God, for Daddy at her dad’s funeral. It’s unbelievable, really, how God uses these little books. That’s the part that reminds me that I’m right where I’m supposed to be.

Q2 – Have you ever thought of branching into adult books or is this where you would like to stay?
I have co-written a couple of adult books (Frederick and Jungle Jack) and have adapted some books for teens. I’ve got a couple of teen proposals in the works. And I have some ideas for middle grade/YA fiction. So, yes, I am starting to feel my age range starting to skew upward a bit. Maybe I’m growing up as a writer. And maybe I’m not 😉

Q3 – How long does it take to create a kid’s book?
Agh, I get this question a lot, and there isn’t really an exact answer (which is probably why I get this question a lot). A Night Night Prayer, I wrote in one night – hours maybe. But it was developed into what it is today over the course of months of tweaks and edits and feedback. Illustrations can take months. The production process (editing, printing) can take months. Some publishers plan their books years in advance (even after signing the contract – which takes months in itself). Some publishers plan a year or less out. If I had to give an exact answer, from a publishing contract to printing, I would say one to two years, and even that isn’t very exact, is it? 🙂

Q4 – Can you write anywhere or do you have a certain place/process for writing?
As a stay-at-home mom, I’ve had to learn to write anywhere, in any situation. But I am most productive sitting at my desk, in a quiet house with some classical or inspirational (instrumental) music turned way down low. But be ye not deceived: that’s rarely when the ideas come. The ideas come when I’m in the shower or driving down the road or hiking at the farm – rarely when I’m staring at my screen.

Q5 – Are you an avid reader? If yes, do you have a favorite author?
I start each day with reading the Bible and have for seven or eight years. But if by “avid” you mean that I have ten books half-read at all times, then yes. Yes, I am. (It’s ridiculous) I read mostly nonfiction, so it’s tough to really dig in to one author in that genre (with a few exceptions). I absolutely love the lyrical style of Ann Voskamp. If she wrote a phone book, I’d read it. (For those 25 and under, a phone book is . . . oh, nevermind.) I just finished With Love, Wherever You Are by Dandi Mackall (which is technically fiction, but based on her parents’ actual letters – LOVED it). I’m reading some of Madeleine L’Engle’s poetry, Magnolia by Chip and Joanna Gaines, The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst, How to Write a Sentence by Stanley Fish, and I just started Mrs. Oswald Chambers by Michelle Ule last night. In children’s books, I love the understated brilliance of Dr. Seuss and Shel Silverstein. My kids loved those, too, of course, and Kevin Henkes and David Shannon and Laura Numeroff and Eric Carle, David Wiesner and Jon Scieszka and Max Lucado. And I love the new(er) stuff from Mo Willems and Anna Dewdney. There’s just too much good stuff out there!

Q6 – Most authors read in their genre. Do you read a lot of kid’s books to get in the writing groove?
Yes and no. When I go to a bookstore, I head straight for the children’s section and read whatever catches my eye. (Yes, I still buy picture books. My youngest is thirteen. They’re for me, okay? They’re for me . . . although I did recently buy Vegetables in Underwear for my twenty-three-year-old son). But when I’m writing a book on a certain topic – from the moment the idea pops into my head until the manuscript is finished – I try to steer clear of children’s books on the same topic. I’m afraid I’ll inadvertently mimic their style or tone or even a phrase. But it’s really a silly fear. Once a publisher sent me several sample books on the same topic/style as an upcoming book, and I hesitantly reviewed them. A while later, I dug into my manuscript, and a whole new style emerged. It wasn’t at all like any of the books I had read, but it wasn’t like what I had written in the past either. It just proves that reading – any reading – is a breeding ground for creativity.

Q7 – Last but not least, is there anything else you would like to share with us? (a promo, perhaps?)
My Christmas Prayer releases from Tommy Nelson in October. And This is the Day! releases from Scholastic (in English and en espanol) in March. OH, and your three-year-old may be happy to know that a Touch-and-Feel Night, Night, Farm releases in February – ALONG WITH the brand new Night, Night, Jungle! Visit amyparkerbooks.com to these and others. But really, I would love to just say thank you: thank you to those who have read my books. Thank you to those who haven’t. Thank you to the mamas and daddies and uncles and grandmas who find the energy in their dead-tired bodies to create character voices and sound effects as they read bedtime stories to their kiddos. You will never, ever regret those moments spent with your child, and you are creating a better world for us all. So thank you.

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Amy, thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us! This has been one of the most touching interviews I have ever done. And, yes, Mister Chu (the three-year-old) will be thrilled to know there is a new Night, Night book coming out the same month as his (and his sister’s) birthday! I think your books will probably be monopolizing the birthday wish list 😉

For those of you reading, don’t forget to show Amy some love!

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That’s all I have for you today! Happy Tuesday 🙂
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