January Author Spotlight
Welcome to a new series I’ll be hosting on this blog. Once a month we’ll meet an accomplished author or illustrator in the field of children’s books. For our first author, I’m happy to introduce Anne Broyles. To learn more about Anne and her award-winning books, please scroll down to the bottom of this interview and click on her website link. But first, check out her interesting answers to my questions!
1. Please share a little about your books.
ARTURO AND THE NAVIDAD BIRDS, a bilingual Spanish-English book about a boy and his grandmother decorating their Christmas tree, is a tale of love, forgiveness and the power of stories.
In the true story of PRISCILLA AND THE HOLLYHOCKS, a young enslaved girl is forced to walk the Cherokee Trail of Tears and is “saved by hollyhocks and a white man’s kindness.” I love Priscilla’s resilient spirit.
SHY MAMA’S HALLOWEEN tells how a Russian immigrant family in the 1940s begins to feel comfortable in their new home (Lower East Side NYC) as they experience “the trick or treat” for the first time.
2. How has where you’ve lived or travelled influenced your work?
AB: I grew up in the multiethnic/multilingual Southwest, and have lived in many parts of the USA, England and Peru. I led work teams to Cuba, the Hopi and Navajo reservations, and the Clear Creek people of northern California. I’ve travelled to about 40 countries so I write from a large worldview. I’ve had the privilege of making friends with a wide variety of people from different nations, ethnicities, languages. I think this is why my published books have been so varied: a Russian immigrant family in New York’s Lower East Side; an enslaved child forced to walk the Cherokee Trail of Tears; an Hispanic boy and his grandmother. My other works-in-progress also focus on underrepresented populations—a poor West Virginia miner’s family during the Depression; a 14-year-old Cherokee girl who survives the 1838 Trail of Tears; people of Hopi, Navajo, Hispanic, Filipino, and Korean-American ancestry.
I want young readers to grow up embracing diversity and treating every person with respect. The more any of us know about people who may feel “different” from us, the less important those differences are.
3. Could you briefly tell us your writing process?
AB: Ideas fly at me every day. I usually need some gestation time before I’m ready to write– sometimes many years—but I write out a brief summary of the idea, date I had it, and enough to get me started in my thinking/musing/daydreaming about it process. Once the idea percolates, I do initial research (since many of my books are historical and/or about cultures other than my own) and write the first draft.
I usually write 5-6 days/week, taking breaks to exercise, walk the dog, and occasionally have lunch with friends. Since I work on multiple projects simultaneously, if I feel stuck on one book, I switch to another or work on the business/school visit/social media side of my job. I go on several writing retreats each year, meet with two critique groups each month, and I’m in two (reading) book groups, including one with other children’s authors.
I love the idea part of writing best and writing second. I find revision the hardest. It can be like constructing an extremely difficult jigsaw puzzle with no picture as guidance, no stated size, and pieces of all shapes and sizes. But there is little more satisfying than when the revision comes together.
4. What advice would you give to new authors hoping to become published?
AB: Work on your craft. All of us can continue to learn and improve. Write for the love of writing, and lean on that passion because the publishing process can be brutal. Fortunately, there is great support in the SCBWI. Keep up with trends in the field as much as possible, but most importantly, write from your heart and believe in yourself.
If you feel discouraged, connect with other writers.
5. Five favorites:
a. favorite book = Charlotte’s Web (children’s) A Prayer for Owen Meaney by John Irving (adult)
b. favorite movie = Bringing Up Baby
c. favorite vacation = hiking in Bhutan
d. favorite hobby = photography
e. favorite color = azure blue
6. If you weren’t a children’s book author, what career(s) would you like to try?
AB: I loved my 20 years as a United Methodist minister, and if I needed to find a new career, might choose social worker or political organizer.
Thank you, Anne–your beautiful books are certainly making a difference.