Happy Friday, everyone! Today I’m continuing our series of Coffee & Conversation interviews with presenters from the upcoming SCBWI MD/DE/WV 25 and Still We R(ev)ise 25th Annual Conference! Today we have picture book author, Maria Gianferrari in the cyber chair. Missed any previous interviews? No worries, here’s the links:
- Author Laura Gehl
- Mary Barrows, Conference Logo Competition Winner
- Author Sue Macy
- Author Megan Wagner Lloyd
- Author-Illustrator Courtney Pippin-Mathur
- Closing Keynote Speaker, Hena Khan
- Author Meg Eden
Maria holds a Master’s degree in Creative Writing and a Ph.D. in English from SUNY Stony Brook. She is the author of the nonfiction picture books Coyote Moon and the forthcoming Hawk Rising, both from Roaring Brook Press, as well as Terrific Tongues, a concept book coming from Boyds Mills Press in April. Maria’s future nonfiction titles include Whooo-Ku (GP Putnam’s Sons) and A Home For Bobcat (Roaring Brook Press). She is also the author of the Penny & Jelly Books, Officer Katz & Houndini and Hello Goodbye Dog. Maria lives in Leesburg, Virginia with her family.
In the Trenches: From the Query to the Call, Saturday 10:40 AM – 11:30 AM
With Leah Henderson, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maria Gianferrari, John Micklos, Jr., moderated by Meera Trehan: You’ve polished your manuscript, you’ve researched agents, you’ve edited your query, and you’ve hit send. Now what? This panel of agented authors will tell you what to expect and what you can learn from the query process, and answer all those questions you might be scared to ask. Whether you’re getting requests, rejections, or radio silence, this panel will help you assess how best you can survive–and maybe even thrive–in the query trenches.
Picture (Book) Perfect: Sunday, A two-part workshop for writers of picture books.
Part 2 with Megan Wagner Lloyd, Courtney Pippin-Mathur, Maria Gianferrari: Three picture book authors share how they stay true to, develop, and refine their unique voices throughout drafting and revision.
Author Megan Wagner Lloyd (Finding Wild, Fort-Building Time) will discuss her discovery of her lyrical creative voice. Author Maria Gianferrari (Coyote Moon, Terrific Tongues, Hawk Rising) will show the strategies she uses for structuring and polishing her nature-focused narrative non-fiction voice. And author/illustrator Courtney Pippin-Mathur (Maya Was Grumpy and Dragons Rule, Princesses Drool) will share how she stays true to her humorous and slightly fantastical artistic voice while incorporating both art and text revision feedback in the publication process. Followed by a Q&A.
What is your favorite writing how-to book, technique, or website that has helped you improve your craft or provided inspiration?
- For picture books, I still love Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books.
- For longer works, Martha Alderson’s The Plot Whisperer is so insightful.
- For inspiration, Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic and Kyo Maclear’s Birds, Art, Life.
- Websites: Tara Lazar’s Storystorm (formerly known as PiBoIdMo); Picture Book Builders; The Little Crooked Cottage; Melissa Stewart’s Celebrate Science to name a few.
How were you inspired to write your current or upcoming release?
I have three books releasing this year. The first, Terrific Tongues, illustrated by Jia Liu, (Boyds Mills Press), was inspired by my then toddler’s obsession with all things tongue. We were living in Berlin at the time, so she’d point to anything in books, photos, or while we were out walking and say, “Zunge,” the German word for tongue. I began to wonder about tongues and starting doing research. What I discovered was fascinating and I was hooked.
I am a self-proclaimed bird nerd, and am particularly obsessed with red-tailed hawks. I love searching for them while driving down the highway. Hawk Rising, illustrated by Caldecott winner, Brian Floca (Roaring Brook Press), was born from this obsession.
I also love dogs, especially mutts, like my rescue dog, Becca. I am inspired by the tireless work of those dedicated to rescuing homeless and abused dogs, and finding them their “furever” homes. Operation Rescue Dog, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (Little Bee) is about a girl named Alma and her rescue dog, Lulu, and how they meet for the first time.
What do they have in common: obsession.
You’ve been locked in a bank vault Twilight Zone style, so you finally have time to read! Your glasses are fine, (whew,) so what’s the first book you crack open?
I’d start with re-reading Louise Erdrich’s The Birchbark House, and then the other four books in the series.
For one day, time travel is a reality and you have the opportunity to visit any famous deceased author you want. Who do you pick?
Without a doubt, Emily Dickinson.
You magically find a $100 bill in your box of cereal. In what frivolous way would you spend it?
On books of course, though they are far from frivolous.
What is your favorite quote?
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.” John Templeton.
What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
Walking my dog, Becca, birdwatching and observing things in nature, reading and cookie baking.
If you could sum up your best advice for new writers in only four words, what would they be?
Read. Write. Reflect. Revise.
And finally, what’s your favorite:
Time to work? Mornings, after my walk.
Music to listen to while writing? I cannot listen to music while writing—it’s too distracting. I sometimes enjoy listening to nature sounds though, like birdsong, rain and ocean waves.
Pair of shoes? My slippers. 😉
Thanks so much for stopping by, Maria, and we’re looking forward to seeing you at the conference!
Take care, everyone, and happy writing and drawing!