Monday, August 04, 2008

Me and Mimi : Read All About Us!

The first photo is of me at age five, back when I planned on being Mary Poppins when I grew up, and the second is of Mimi with her bunny. (Hmm. I hadn't realized how much alike we look until I saw these two pictures together.) At any rate, if you want to learn how I shifted my career aspirations from "magical nanny" to "children's book author-illustrator," you can read Susan VanHecke's interview with me for the August children's market column at Authorlink. (It's available free until August 10th). You can also learn about stuff like my slow path to publishing success and get a peek at my anxiety-and-chocolate driven work process. And if you want to see some pix of the original Mimi, the Mimi "bible" I referred to while working on the book, and the lovely cover of the very first book I wrote and illustrated (at age 7), you can visit Susan VanHecke's blog.

, by the way, is the talented author of my upcoming book, An Apple Pie for Dinner, due out from Marshall-Cavendish in fall, 2009. And Susan is not only talented, she is positively prolific: She has three - yes, 3 - books for young people coming out in 2009. (Flak Jacket Rock and Strike Up the Band, in addition to our pie book). And in her spare time, she does a little other writing (like being an Authorlink columnist and writing books for adults) and some gardening (serious enough to get her lovely and productive garden featured on Good Morning America this year. Wow.)

I like the Authorlink interview very much, though I can't get over how they let me run at the mouth (or, more precisely, fingers) when I answered Susan's great questions. My only regret is that I didn't think to work in thank yous to all the people who made Mimi come to life. In addition to my parents and Melanie Cecka, my editor at Bloomsbury, I should have mentioned the important roles of people like my agent, Steven Chudney, who not only got me the contract in the first place, but guided me through the early development of the story and character. Steven really is an exceptional agent, in that he not only knows the children's market well and has a high success rate in placing manuscripts, but he is a good editor, good friend, and able and willing to help his clients develop their whole careers.

I also owe much thanks to my writers' critique group, run by Pat Easton, and including some truly remarkable writers and skilled critiquers like Kitty Griffin, Judy Press, Cynthia Light Brown, David Amaditz, Andrea Perry, Marcy Collier and others (and moved-away-but-still-in-touch members Julie Stiegemeyer (my Cheeps author), Susan Chapek, and Cynthia Cotten. They all patiently listened through a zillion drafts of various Mimi plotlines, oohed politely at my sketches and early attempts at final artwork, and urged me on by offering to take me out for chocolate desserts afterI finished.

And finally (well, not finally, since I really am only scratching the surface of the thank-ees - this is starting to look like the credits at the end of an epic film, which seems a bit much for 400 word picture book...), I owe a debt of gratitude that I can never repay to my supportive and endlessly tolerant husband Steve, who not only didn't whine about having to make dinner every night but didn't even fuss about not having a table to eat dinner off of, because for months every flat surface in our house was covered in pig, bunny, and roly-poly parts. He is a good, good Webbis, that guy. (If you don't know what a Webbis is, then you must read Shirley Jackson's hilarious slightly fictionalized memoir, Life Among the Savages.)

One more little thing: see! I managed to put a picture in the banner place for my blog! Of course I didn't do it quite right or anything (the size is a bit off and it's awfully hard to read the text), but it's better than the bland green stuff that came with the template I used before, right?). The picture is of my play house writing studio at night - I just got the lamp at an estate sale this weekend, so now I can hang out and listen to the crickets while I work after dark. I love my play house.
Now I just have to get busy updating my lists of blogs and favorite illustrators, adding in pix of my book covers, etc. to the layout...


roz said...

What a brilliant, in depth interview. loved it!
I'm so glad that I'm not the only one that swears like a sailor in the insane moments. (Minus children, of course! I'm afraid the dog has learned a few new words, though.)

Laura said...

I love your playhouse! Can you put windows on it to keep it warm through fall ?

I love Mimi! and I can't wait to read through your interview!!
: )

Anonymous said...

anyone--and I mean anyone--who is cool enough to know and love the notion of the bad, bad webbis...and takes it even further by applying it in the good webbis way to a loved one--is a.o.k. by me!
Sally has been my hero since I first read about her in Life Among the Savages in the late 60s. A long string of my friends from the 3rd grade through advanced middle age has grown weary of hearing that they are bad bad webbisses (webbii?) and/or that THEY can't come to MY HOUSE.
Also, no kidding, my husband calls me Snookums.
Such luck that I came upon your blog!
All the best-- Shari

Carol Baicker-McKee, Ph. said...

Thanks Shari/Snookums - so glad to meet a fellow Savages fan! My family has adopted so many lines and phrases from her books that it's almost embarrassing. My daughter just did her junior year honors English thesis on Shirley Jackson, mostly for the pleasure of reading all her books again.

We do the plural of webbis many ways, including webbishim.