Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to introduce Sandra Horning to our Spotlight Blog this Friday! Sandra will be joining us at 65 James Street for our Carnival of Children’s Authors and Illustrators next Saturday, April 11 for the children’s book panel, reading, and Q&A! But get to know her a little early with this interview!
Welcome, Sandra! Thanks for joining us. Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing?
I’m the author of two picture books, The Giant Hug and The Biggest Pumpkin, and a beginning reader, Chicks! I also work as a copyeditor for five academic statistical journals. The children’s writing is much more enjoyable!
What was the inspiration for The Biggest Pumpkin? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The initial idea came to me during a school visit for my first picture book. The school had a greenhouse and it sparked the idea of writing a garden story. I picked a pumpkin plant because when my 2 boys were younger we regularly drove by a nearby garden with a pumpkin plant in it. By the end of summer and into fall, the pumpkin was easily visible from the road. I’d slow the car down and we would see how big the pumpkin was that day. The rest of the inspiration for the story came from all the agricultural fairs in our region. My family and I have always loved seeing the largest vegetables at the local fairs. After I decided on the storyline of a boy growing a pumpkin for the local fair, I researched how to grow a giant pumpkin. I did my best to follow the real growth process of the plant while keeping it easy to understand for young readers. It took many revisions to get just right!
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite part of being a writer is connecting with a child or classroom, and knowing that children are enjoying my story. For the whole publishing process, my favorite part is the first time I see the illustrator’s sketches. Seeing my story come to life is incredibly exciting! My greatest lesson has been learning patience in not rushing the writing process. When I finish a revision, I want to immediately send it back to the editor, but if I am patient and wait to look at the manuscript again in a day or two, I can always find at least one small way to improve it further.
Writers very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your writing?
Yes, I have chickens and ducks! My beginning reader Chicks! is inspired by all that I have learned from raising and keeping chickens. I also have several stories with chicken and duck characters based on my pets. My fingers are crossed that one of these manuscripts will be published soon!
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
I’m a member of SCBWI, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I highly recommend that anyone interested in writing for children attend one of their workshops or conferences. I’m also in a weekly critique group of 10 published children’s authors. There are many ups and downs on the path to publication. The support of my critique group has been vital in helping me continue to write.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
My books are available through my publishers, Random House and Pelican Publishing, and are in most bookstores. If they aren’t on the shelves, they can easily be ordered through a bookstore or online.
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I have a website which I update with curriculum guides, book reviews, and other news: http://www.sandrahorning.com
Thank you, again, for joining us, Sandra! We look forward to seeing you in-person at our Carnival on April 11!