super interview & super book giveaway


It’s my treat to welcome children’s book author and illustrator Deb Pilutti. Deb and I recently traveled to and from the SCBWI fall conference on Mackinac Island. The many miles spent on Michigan highways gave me a chance to get to know Deb better. She’s a peach. (Well, not literally. But that would make her literary abilities all the more extraordinary, now wouldn’t it?) I know you’re going to enjoy getting to know her as much as I did. And so, my Frog on a Dime friends, meet my friend Deb Pilutti . . .

Deb Pilutti

Deb Pilutti

So, Deb, when did you know you wanted to become a children’s writer?

Let’s just say I was a little dense, so it took me awhile. The signs were there. When I was younger, I loved reading more than anything. A blank book was my most prized possession. I once had Leo Lionni as a design instructor in a college workshop and I was giddy to meet him because Little Blue and Little Yellow was one of my favorite books as a child. But still, I never saw writing and illustrating for children as an option. It wasn’t until I realized I was hoarding my own children’s books, and not sharing that it was something I wanted to do.

What is it about writing for children that appeals to you versus writing for adults?

Being silly.

What’s the most encouraging thing anyone has ever said to you related to your work?

Early on, I submitted a manuscript to an editor. She said it wasn’t right for her, but that she liked the illustrations and thought that I was a good writer and invited me to submit to her again. I was not very confident about my writing at that point, so it was exactly what needed to hear.

What advice would you give to someone who has been pursuing publication for a long time, with close calls, but no contracts?

Of course, I would say to keep trying. The fact that the person has come close means that they are on the right track. But I would also recommend doing something a little different to push yourself even more. It could be devoting more time to writing, or attend a conference or workshop or online class. A few years ago, this was the case for me. I decided to spend more time writing, which meant turning down some freelance opportunities. I also spent a couple of weekends at a writing retreat with some friends.

By Deb Pilutti Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt

By Deb Pilutti
Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt

What would you like to share about your NEW book–details! details!

Ten Rules of Being a Superhero is published by Christy Ottaviano Books/Henry Holt is a story  about the day in the life of a Lava Boy and his superhero toy, Captain Magma.

Lava Boy is making up the rules as he and Captain Magma go along – always in the spirit of superhero play. The rules are about being super from a child’s perspective, as in “Rule No. 2: Saving the Day is messy. But everyone understands,” or “Rule No. 5: Sometimes, Superheroes make a lot of noise.” At times, the action on the page is at odds with the rule.

I had so much fun making this book! And plenty of practice too, as I have spent an incredible amount of hours (A LOT) discussing the merits of various superhero powers with my children over the years. I particularly liked painting the spreads with Lava Boy’s toys in various states of distress. I am drawn to awkward, retro toys.

And for the super-super serious portion of our interview—let’s say your moral compass went missing. What make/model of car would you steal and why?

An old Ford pick up truck from the early 60s. And while my moral compass is missing, I’d nab a really great pair of vintage cowboy boots to go with it.

Good answer! Let’s try another one–on the assumption we could find a phone booth somewhere (a museum perhaps), who is the children’s author or illustrator you’d most like to be trapped inside with?

Maira Kalman. First of all, she seems like an incredibly interesting person and I would love to chat with her. She finds beauty and poignancy in the absurd, and I think she would find it in the phone booth. Plus, I would hope we would laugh a lot.

Feeling brave? How about naming three things we’d be surprised to learn about you.

I can only think of odd things – oh well. I talk to myself a lot. I have a collection of Star Trek figurines on my desk and I have an irrational aversion to using a salad fork.

Hey, I didn’t know you were a Trekkie. Thank you so much for stopping by, Deb. Best wishes to you on your super new book!


Want to WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY of Ten Rules of Being of Superhero?

Between now and Noon on Friday, October 24, leave a comment and answer this question–Who is your superhero?


Deb Pilutti feels lucky to have a job where reading, playing with toys and
watching cartoons is considered “research”. She lives in Ann Arbor,
Michigan with her husband,two kids and one nervous border collie. Deb has
worked as a graphic designer and illustrator, creating toys and products
for children and is the author and illustrator of TEN RULES OF BEING A
Schuster), which will be published in 2015. Additionally, she illustrated
SUBURB KID (both with Sterling).


And now, in honor of our special guest,  and in keeping with my quote-closing tradition, we’ll close with one of Deb’s favorite quotes . . .

Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working. ~ Pablo Picasso



39 responses »

  1. Congrats to Deb! Nice to hear it took her awhile to realize this was her path, and great to see her success. As a kid I loved watching Wonder Woman. 🙂


  2. Vicky, Thank you for hosting me! I always enjoy your musings, and it was a treat to be here. I particularly enjoyed reading about everyone’s favorite superhero!


  3. Great Interview! My superhero is my seven year old sister. She fought cancer. She didn’t win, but she made me realize how precious life can be. She would have loved this new book.


  4. Oh, Deb, I LOVE your answer for the appeal of writing for kids (v.s. adults). Me, too! Me, too.
    Thanks for another great hosting interview, Vicky.


  5. I really enjoyed this interview, Debs. I think just talking back and forth saying, “Deb this, and Deb that” had to fun entertaining in itself. I have a five year old grandson and a three year old granddaughter who play superheroes every day. I have to check in to find out who they are each day so I know how to enter their worlds.
    You asked who is my favorite superhero? I’ve had many at different phases of my life. Right now my favorite superheroes are the nurses and doctors who volunteer to minister to the Ebola patients. in our country and elsewhere. [As you might be able to tell, I live in the DFW area and this is very near to my heart as I have friends who are doctors and nurses at Presbyterian Hospital.}


  6. The SCBWI conference was a great time to meet so many children’s authors! I didn’t meet Deb but look forward to getting her Superhero book – especially since my five-year-old grandson, well … lives in a cape! I’d have to say that my two heroes are my daughters – one a pediatric nurse who regularly brings me to tears with poignant stories and her connection to children, and the other a young mom whose mothering journey often leaves me in awe. Thanks Vicky!


  7. Loved this interview, ladies. So fresh! In a good way…:)
    My superhero is my mini-labradoodle, Kona, who lives in a perpetual state of happy, “Chippies! Happy! Blowing Leaves! Happy! Sand digging! Happy!” and this reminds me that joy is abundantly most everywhere.


  8. I find it so cool that you and Deb bonded on the way Up North to the Mackinac (Mackinaw?) Island Scbwi Conference. Ruth and I enjoy some spirited conversations as we drive; our windshield has more ideas bounced off the inside than bugs bounced off the outside.


  9. Great interview ladies! My superhero is my daughter who despite being visually-impaired always greets everyone with a smile and hug. She bounces through her day with more love than fear. She gives and forgives all people. She makes me want to be a better person.


  10. Superheroes don’t always wear capes or change clothes in a phone booth. (Phone booth? What’s that?) In my life, the real superheroes are my many friends and family members who are battling cancer with grace and hope, AND the friends who are shouldering eldercare responsibilities.


  11. I have to pick my entire critique group as my superheroes. Without them, I probably wouldn’t still be writing. They push me to keep going and have helped me so much along the way.


  12. Thanks for the interview and awesome giveaway! I can’t wait to read your book!! My superhero is Tony the Tiger, ever since I can remember (I even named my stuffed tiger Tony that comforted me through my what became annual childhood pneumonia). Tony’s GREAT!


  13. Loved getting to know you here on Vicky’s blog Deb! I especially loved the part about stealing the truck, because I would totally have thrown in the cowboy boots too (I actually have a pair!) So now, to answer Vicky’s question, currently, my favorite super hero is Iron Man. A few years ago it was Margaret Thatcher…but she never had a cool suit…I mean she wore a lot of lovely suits, but they didn’t fly…so I switched.


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