Three Questions With Jane Yolen: Advice For Young Writers, Books, Tea and YOU NEST HERE WITH ME
For Part 1 of my YOU NEST HERE WITH ME series, please see Three Questions With Heidi Stemple.
Photo: Jason Stemple.
I was thrilled to meet Jane Yolen at a recent SCBWI conference, and even more excited when Jane read my f&g of Where Are My Books? and liked it (see photo at the very end of this interview). Jane Yolen is the renowned author of many children’s books, fantasy, and science fiction, including Owl Moon, The Devil’s Arithmetic, and How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? Her books, poems and stories have won many awards, including the Caldecott Medal.
You can find Jane at her website, JaneYolen.com, on Facebook and on Twitter. She and her daughter Heidi Stemple run a Picture Book Boot Camp (next one is Sept. 10-13, 2015), which is a Master Class in her home:
Her newest book is YOU NEST HERE WITH ME, a picture book co-written with Heidi Stemple (see Heidi’s Three Questions interview in Inkygirl.com earlier today) and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, published by Boyds Mill Press in March 2015.
Synopsis of YOU NEST HERE WITH ME:
This lyrical bedtime book is an ode to baby birds everywhere and to sleepy children, home safe in their own beds. As a mother describes how different species of birds nest, secure and cozy with their mama birds, she tucks her own child into bed with the soothing refrain, “you nest here with me”—easing her little one and readers alike to slumber. Perfect for a young audience, this poetic text begs to be read aloud, and is accompanied by Melissa Sweet’s incredibly warm and original art.
Q. Could you please take a photo of something in your office and tell us the story behind it?
Photo: Heidi Stemple.
Like most writers, I have an enormous research library in my home and when I am working on a particular project, those books get scattered around my writing room.
As I am currently working on two very different manuscripts–one set in the Holocaust (the first section in the Lodz Ghetto) and the other a graphic novel trilogy set in 1930s Edinburgh, I chose to pick out a book from each of those piles to feature in the photograph. At the top is a day-by-day catalog of what happened during the ghetto years in Lodz, and in the second materials about Scotland through the ages. Fiction has to take the real and massage it into a story that nay (or may not) have actually happened. We recreate (hi)story and bring our readers along.
Photo: Heidi Stemple.
From Jane, about the photo above: “I can’t seem to write without a cup of tea (British decaf with demarara sugar and a splash of Lactaid milk.) I keep making cuppas coming all day long.”
Q. What advice do you have for young writers?
Read, read, read.
Write something every day.
Never take no for an answer.
Don’t believe your reviews–either good or bad.
Heart on the page.
Know that books are not just written, but rewritten.
(Above: Listen as Jane reads and critiques her very first poem)
Q. What are you excited about right now?
Two of my old books recently splashed out big: HOW DO DINOSAURS GET WELL SOON (Scholastic) won the Colorado One Book Award, and BAD GIRLS (Charlesbridge)–written with daughter Heidi Stemple–won the Magnolia Award, Mississippi’s Children’s Book Award for the middle grades. Plus the latest book Heidi and I just published–YOU NEST HERE WITH ME (Boyds Mills) with amazing illustrations by Melissa Sweet–has recently had a tremendous start and after only a month is getting a second printing.
But honestly, I am always most excited about the manuscript I am working on now. That’s where my heart is, where my soul is. That is where my tomorrow is.
For more insights from book creators, see my Inkygirl Interview Archives and Advice For Young Writers And Illustrators From Book Creators.