Interviewing authors and picking the creative brains of illustrators is a lot of fun for me. But just in case you’d like to know a bit about me, I’ve opted to interview myself. Mind you, it’s tough to get an exclusive interview with me, but I decided to bribe myself with licorice (and it worked!) And off we go!
So, Vicky, let’s get right down to it. What makes you tick?
My intoxicating passion is writing, especially for children. I love to write for kids, not because I’m trying to recapture my childhood, but because I’ve never quite left it.
Somehow I believe that about you. Would you like more licorice?
You never have to ask.
Assuming you’ve secured gainful employment at some point in your life, what’s your professional background?
Aside from the usual summer jobs–working in a restaurant and a department store, and that brief stint as a caterer to a Norwegian lumberjack camp–over the last 25 years I’ve worked as a magazine editor, freelance newspaper reporter, feature writer and copy writer, and college-level writing instructor. Since 2009, I’ve been a Communication Specialist for Henry Ford Allegiance Health in my hometown of Jackson, Michigan.
Writing for kids and writing for a health system, that’s pretty diverse, isn’t it?
I wouldn’t have predicted an overlap, but oftentimes my job involves taking a complex subject like a complicated new medical procedure and making it accessible to patients at about a 6th grade reading level. Thanks to my experience as a children’s writer, I know how to use simple language to make the explanation engaging and understandable (and perhaps a little less scary).
Holding down a day job, do you ever have time to go to conferences or take classes?
Well, actually, I’ve taken writing courses through the Institute of Children’s Literature. I’ve also had the privilege of participating in Highlights Foundation and Vermont College of Fine Arts writing workshops and enjoyed a course on creating memorable characters through the UCLA Writing Extension Program. You find the time to do what you love.
And you’re part of SCBWI, right?
Of course. I’ve been an active member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators since 2002. Joining SCBWI was a real turning point of me. Our Michigan chapter is outstanding.
What’s your genre of choice?
Not that novels come easily to me, but I like the elbow room novel writing provides, allowing for more world-building, dialogue and exploration. My sense of humor (and maybe the age of my inner child!) seems to lend itself to middle grade fiction. Lately, I’ve also gotten excited about a couple of non-fiction projects highlighting unusual topics. The research can be one intriguing rabbit trail after another.
Do you have an agent?
Oh, my, yes. I am represented by my dream agent Erin Murphy.
I’m almost out of licorice, so I’ll try to wrap this up soon. What are you working on right now?
Right now, I’ve returned to revising on my third middle grade novel, CAST OFF. (My completed middle grade novels are SHRINK and SHORT.) I also have two non-fiction book proposals–one is out on submission and the other will approach that stage soon.
Do you believe in Big Foot?
Did he ask you ask me that? Sheesh. He is so needy.
Have you ever sat on a cactus?
Is it true you talk to squirrels?
Yes. But only in person. Never on the phone.
Thanks for the interview, Vicky. It wasn’t nearly as exasperating as I feared it would be.
Thanks, I think. Can I have that last piece of licorice now?
File Under “Other Important Things to Know”
I live in Michigan with my husband. A generous cat named Finn lets us live in his house and be his staff in exchange for the pleasure of his company. In the summers, I run a day camp for dust bunnies. We currently have a waiting list.