Marcia Strykowski

August Author Spotlight

Colby author photoNext up is Rebecca Colby, a picture book author and poet from England. Before writing for children, Rebecca inspected pantyhose, taught English in Taiwan, worked for a Russian comedian and traveled the world as a tour director. We’ve included a link to a fun scavenger hunt at the end of this post, so be sure to read carefully for clues. But first, welcome to Rebecca!

Please share a little about your books.
Thank you for inviting me to join you on your blog today, Marcia. You know, even though it’s been almost 18 months since my first book came out, I still have to pinch myself when I’m asked that question as I can’t believe the dream of publishing my work has come true.

HI RES BATS & FROGS coverI write picture books and poetry and both of my published books feature some rhyme. The latest book, It’s Raining Bats & Frogs, has only just released with Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan) and is illustrated by Steven Henry. It’s about a young witch named Delia, who has been looking forward all year to flying in the annual Witch Parade. But when parade day brings heavy rain and threatens the parade, Delia decides to take action. Using her best magic, she changes the rain to cats and dogs. But that doesn’t work too well! Then hats and clogs. That doesn’t work either! Each new type of rain brings a new set of problems and Delia has to find another way to save the day.

lassie 2My debut book, There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie, came out in March 2014 with Floris Books and was illustrated by Kate McLelland. It’s a Scottish twist on the much-loved rhyme about the old lady who swallows a fly. In it, the wee lassie swallows a succession of Scotland’s favorite creatures to catch that pesky midgie—including a puffin, a Scottie dog, a seal, and even Nessie. But you’ll have to read the book to find out whether or not wee lassie finally eats her fill.

Breaking news from Marcia: I’ve just learned that Rebecca has sold yet another picture book manuscript. Keep your eyes peeled for Motor Goose and CONGRATULATIONS, Rebecca, that’s AMAZING!
Now back to our previously scheduled interview.
🙂

How has where you’ve lived or traveled influenced your work?

Anything that is experienced by a writer can influence their work, and that’s certainly the case for me. While I feel most of my work is influenced by my childhood upbringing in the States, There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie probably wouldn’t have come about if I hadn’t traveled regularly to Scotland as a tour director in the past. Also, my recent release, It’s Raining Bats & Frogs, was very much influenced by the rainy weather we have where I live in England.

Could you briefly tell us your writing process?

I spend a lot of time staring at blank pieces of paper. I started this bad habit as a teenager, falsely believing that I could channel a talented, deceased writer to do all the hard work for me. Sadly, this process never worked, so instead, I try to come up with a catchy title and plan a book around the title.

I don’t necessarily recommend this process, but it works for me. In part, it works because I’m so enthused about my title, that I find any way possible to make it work. I believe it also works for me because I allow myself plenty of time to ruminate on that title. I don’t push myself to write too quickly. I sit and day dream. Or I go for a long, meditative walk. This is not a luxury I allowed myself when I first started writing. I felt all writing time had to be spent doing just that—writing, and getting words down on the page. But with time, I’ve realized the wisdom of ample thinking time in advance of writing. And the thinking time really does pay off! (And here’s your pay off—if you’re playing the scavenger hunt, Agatha is one of the answers.)

What advice would you give to new authors hoping to become published?
Plan to do lots of reading, lots of writing, surround yourself with like-minded individuals, and don’t ever give up! It’s easy to become impatient with the publishing industry and frustrated with the many rejections that come with the job. You’ve got to take the long-term view, have faith in yourself and your work, and the determination to not give up on your dream no matter how long it takes. The best thing I ever did for my own career was join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and to find a good critique group. Both of them have been instrumental in pushing my writing to the next level and connecting me with people in the publishing industry.

favorite book = This is an impossible question for me to answer. Like my children, I have more than one and they’re very different but I love them equally. Anything on my bookshelf by travel writer and humourist, Bill Bryson, is bound to be well-loved but one of my favorite children’s books has always been The Lorax.
favorite movie = The Sound of Music. It’s one of the first films I remember seeing as a child and one that never grows old. My own children love it now too.
favorite vacation = We took a family cycling trip around the Netherlands that was pretty fantastic! I’m generally up for going anywhere that I haven’t visited before but preferably somewhere with lots of outdoor activities and hiking.
favorite hobby = Hmm…I’d like to say it’s writing but I’d be lying because I’d far rather be dancing.
favorite color = Fuschia pink! The brighter the better.

If you weren’t a children’s book author, what career(s) would you like to try?
Ooh, there’s so many to choose from (and dare I say, so many I’ve already tried)! Top of the list would be a drummer in a country western band, a dance choreographer, or a screenwriter. I just need to learn to play the drums first!

Thanks for your fun answers, Rebecca. I’m looking forward to that percussion act. Keep in touch with Rebecca via these links: website  Twitter and in case you were sharp enough to catch a clue, here’s the link to her Scavenger Hunt. To answer your question–are there prizes?–YES!

70 Comments

  1. clarehelenwelsh

    What a fun interview ! 🙂 Thank you Marcia and Rebecca!

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    • Glad you enjoyed it, Clare. Thanks!

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      • Rebecca C

        Thank YOU, Clare! Also, glad you enjoyed it!

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  2. Bobbi Miller

    What a fun, fun, fun interview!! Thank you, Marcia and Rebecca!

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    • Makes sense that her picture books are so much fun, too! 🙂

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    • Rebecca C

      Thanks, Bobbi! I enjoyed Marcia’s fun questions.

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  3. Love her spirit and refreshing enthusiasm! Fun post. 🙂

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    • Thanks for visiting, Venessa!

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    • Rebecca C

      Thanks for your kind comments, Venessa! 🙂

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  4. Looking forward to reading this book, Rebecca! Thanks for the fun interview.

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    • Me, too. Can’t wait to read her latest book!

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    • Rebecca C

      Thanks, Yvonne! I hope you enjoy it.

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  5. What great picture books, and I love the sound of Motor Goose! I’ve had the title for a picture book in my head for awhile, Chili Duck, and it’s not going anywhere fast. Guess I just need to do some more ruminating and daydreaming on it! =)

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    • Oh, I like that. Chili Duck has a fun ring to it. Thanks for sharing, Leandra!

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    • Rebecca C

      Definitely! Chili Duck sounds like a winner! Get daydreaming, Leandra, and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

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  6. Bette Norton

    I enjoyed getting to know Rebecca Colby in another one of your great Author’s Spotlight! Rebecca’s books look so much fun! Rebecca’s sense of humor and zest for life comes through in your interview! Her books must be very fun to read! I love the illustrations too! I have a collection of picture books and would love to have her books be a part of it! I will look into that! Being a retired preschool teacher, I know first hand, how a well written and illustrated picture book can make a child very happy! Thank you Marcia for another great Author’s Spotlight Post and congratulations to Rebecca on her new book and of her other books. We should all day dream a little more in our lives! 🙂

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    • You must be thinking of when Wee Lassie was included in a ‘Book Picks’ post I did over a year ago. Good memory and great idea to add her books to your collection. Thanks for your comment!

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    • Rebecca C

      Yay, to day dreaming! 😉 I appreciate your kind comments, Bette, and I hope you enjoy the books! I always look forward to reading Marcia’s Author Spotlight posts too.

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  7. Great interview! The more I learn about you, Rebecca, the more I think our writing process is very similar. The only difference I’ve seen was in another interview where you said you didn’t have to have quiet. I have to have quiet. Anyway, you know I’m a huge fan. Love your sense of humor and your stories are all ones I’d have on my shelves even if you weren’t a treasured critique partner!

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    • How fun that you are critique partners! 🙂

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    • Rebecca C

      Ditto about being a huge fan! We love your debut, Penny!!! Thanks for all your support! I’m lucky to have the best crit partners ever!!!

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  8. I have got to read these books! So original and clever and loved the interview!

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    • Thanks, Catherine. I appreciate you stopping by!

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    • Rebecca C

      Thanks so much, Catherine! I hope you enjoy them, and thank you again, Marcia, for letting me join you on your blog today!

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  9. Thanks for this interview, Marcia. It’s great to “meet” Rebecca. I love hearing about other writers’ processes. Bats & Frogs sounds like a wonderfully fun book!

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    • You’re welcome, Joyce. Hope your writing is going well and thanks for your comment!

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    • Rebecca C

      Thanks for stopping by, Joyce! I, too, always find it fun to read about other authors’ writing processes.

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  10. There was a Wee Lassie who Swallowed a Midgie is such a fabulous title – I just have to get a copy for my granddaughters.

    Walking and thinking are far better activities than staring at a blank piece of paper, although when trying to write a blog post I often find myself staring at a blank screen waiting for words to appear. They never do, so it’s a walk and/or a cup of tea and usually something will start to come together in my brain. I have so much admiration for writers.

    I’m excited by the thought of a scavenger hunt and am on my way there now.xx

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    • Oh, great! Have fun catching up on the scavenger hunt and good luck with your blogging!

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    • Rebecca C

      Walks are so good for stimulating ideas. Thanks, Barbara, and hope you’ll take part in the scavenger hunt!

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  11. Another great interview. I love discovering and being inspired by new children’s book authors, especially those who write picture books! Thanks for the posted tips. I’ll have to read Rebecca Colby’s books.

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    • Thanks, Lynn! I love picture books, too, and I know you’ll enjoy hers.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Rebecca C

      Thank you very much, Lynn, and I hope you enjoy the books!

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Marcia- Thanks for hosting this piece of Rebecca’s blog tour! It gave me a chance to visit YOUR website, to which I plan to return. Congrats on the success of your two AMY books…I will be recommending them to my 7th grade granddaughter! And… I love coastal Maine, too!
    Rebecca- It was fun to learn a little more about you as a person and author. Thanks for validating my practice of sometimes starting with a title and then discovering the story.
    I’ll watch for you at NESCBWI!

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    • Thank you so much, Charlotte. It’s been fun to be part of Rebecca’s tour and I appreciate your visit!

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  13. Rebecca C

    As a native New Englander who vacationed near Brunswick every summer as a child, I’m very partial to the Maine coast also! I know one of the organizers of the NESCBWI conference, and wish so much that I could attend but unfortunately, living on the other side of the Atlantic now, it’s not going to be possible. Enjoy the conference and I’m glad to hear you also sometimes start with a title! Cheers, Charlotte!

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  14. Wow, Rebecca and I seem to have a lot in common! I can’t wait to contact her or do the scavenger hunt. Thank you so much, Marcia, for doing this interview! 🙂

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    • I’m glad you enjoyed the post, storyfairy!

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    • Rebecca C

      That would be wonderful! I hope you do get participate in the scavenger hunt and get in touch via my website! Thanks, Storyfairy!

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  15. nikolina84

    Really enjoying following this tour and the scavenger hunt!! Thank you!

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  16. Darija

    Enjoying this blog tour very much 🙂

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  17. Dario Z.

    I’m following the scavenger hunt, thank you for this cool game you organised!!!

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  18. Scavenger hunting 😉

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  19. Mandy S

    Pictures definitely enhance reading, and also give a pause when reading to children!

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  20. Jade Hewlett

    They sound like great books, enjoying the scavenger hunt.

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  21. Laura Walker

    Just stopping by and enjoying reading lovely interviews whilst on the hunt!

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  22. Suzie W

    I’m hunting too- I enjoyed this post.

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  23. Wes M

    Great interview

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  24. Mike Williams

    Just stopping by on the scavenger hunt. Thanks and bye for now.

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  25. ELISHA

    Thanks for letting me comment on your blog. I am on the hunt 🙂

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    • Good luck to all of you on the hunt! Hope you’ll pop in again some time! 🙂

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  26. Kirsty

    Glad the hunt bought me here

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  27. jo maxted

    im on the hunt xx

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  28. Victoria Prince

    Fun interview!

    Liked by 1 person

  29. Great to see so many of you participating in the scavenger hunt!

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  30. Laura

    Fab interview and congrats on getting the new deal 🙂

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  31. Vickie Jackson

    Fuchsia pink is an awesome colour 🙂
    Loving the scavenger hunt too!

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  32. Rebecca C

    A big thank you to everyone for stopping by to read the post and for your kind comments. And good luck to all of you participating in the scavenger hunt. Results will be announced soon!

    Like

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