Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our blog spotlight on children’s author and fairy expert, Liza Gardner Walsh. Liza will be at our 65 James Street store during our April Vacation festivities on Friday, April 21, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Besides sharing her work, she’ll also be leading a Fairy House workshop. Those who would like to make a Fairy House of their own and bring it home need to pay a $10 materials fee and, to ensure enough materials, pre-register either by stopping into the store or calling ABSW at 508-796-5613.
Liza Gardner Walsh lives on the coast of Maine with her husband and two young daughters, surrounded on one side by mountains and on the other by the rocky shore of the Penobscot Bay. She and her family can often be found making tiny houses for fairies, mice, trolls, and other small creatures, or constructing forts and other hideaways in the woods.
Liza has worked as a preschool teacher, children’s librarian, writing teacher, museum educator, and holds a master’s in writing from Vermont College. She is the author of several books including, Fairy House Handbook, Treasure Hunter’s Handbook, Muddy Boots and her latest, Do Fairies Bring the Spring? Above all, she hopes that her books inspire wonder, appreciation, and exploration of the world around us.
Thank you so much for joining us for an interview, Liza! Can you tell us a little about the Book’s Journey for Do Fairies Bring the Spring?
After Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? came out, the big question was if we were going to do all four seasons. Our publisher gave the green light so I knew I needed to write a spring book to follow winter. The nice thing about writing this one, was that the framework was already set. I knew it needed to ask a lot of questions in rhyme. But the winter book had a central message about kindness and empathy so when I began thinking about spring, I immediately focused on growth and taking care of the earth through tending the plants around us. In Maine and New England, spring sometimes seems very reluctant to come so having some help from the fairies seemed to fit but the trick was asking exactly how they would bring they about the flowers? By tapping their feet? By painting them? By ringing bells?
The book asks a lot of questions. In fact, it is about 90% questions. And it really doesn’t answer the title question. Having worked with children for most of my career, I am very comfortable with not answering the millions of questions that kids ask me in a day and much prefer letting them come up with their own answers or even more questions. Not everything has an answer.
And I certainly can’t answer the all of the questions kids ask me at events about fairies. I just am not sure.
But for me, fairies represent creativity, imagination, kindness and wonder. And I think by encouraging kids to think in this way, to get outside, to take care of the world around us, we are creating caretakers of the earth and future citizens of the world.
What’s your favorite part of being a writer? What has been the greatest lesson you’ve learned as a writer?
I have always wanted to be a writer, well, at least since the third grade. I have written in most of the major genres. I began in poetry then moved to fiction then non-fiction and now children’s picture books which circles back to poetry. For me, all of these types of writing fit for the period of life that I was in at the time. Poetry allowed me to begin to make sense of the adult world, fiction allowed me to escape that world a little while also processing my entry into it, and then the non-fiction children’s books fit perfectly to my role as a mother. I tend to use my life as fodder for my book ideas. My biggest problem is that I have too many ideas! I currently have about six projects running at the same time and a list of about twenty subjects I want to turn into books. This is my favorite part of writing- the exploration of a new subject and sinking into it with all my being. I love researching and teasing out a story structure. The greatest lesson is that no matter how excited I am about a book idea, writing it can take years and years. I am currently in my fifth year of a non-fiction picture book draft that I just can’t seem to get right. Sometimes stories come out easily and other times they are stubborn. I am still learning how to coax those stubborn ones out.
What is some advice you can give to other writers?
My piece of advice is to learn how you work and follow that. I have put so much pressure on myself over the years to write every day for a certain amount of time. But the truth is, I have kids and other jobs that make it very hard for me to write every day. I love going away for a few days and immersing myself in my work. I often get more done binge writing than in the daily work and finally accepting that has felt very liberating.
What has been your favorite adventure, thus far, in your writing career?
There are two. The first was being locked in Fort Knox (a colonial fort in coastal Maine) with my husband and a group of ghost hunters and spending most of the night in this dark and creepy fort to research Haunted Fort. The second was for Treasure Hunter’s Handbook when my family went panning for gold in northern Maine with our French exchange student. No one got rich but it was a great day on the river learning how to gold pan.
While you’re creating, do you prefer music, silence, other?
I need deep quiet for writing and a closed door. But for revising and editing, I can be anywhere including the skating rink while my daughter figure skates, a restaurant, or my bustling house after the kids come home.
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have a fairy cookbook coming out next month and then a fairy counting board book in the winter as well as a summer fairy book to follow spring. I hope to have a couple of picture book bios published in the near future and am restarting work on a novel. As I mentioned earlier, I have lots of projects in mind, it is just sorting them all out and getting them to their best state.
Thank you so much for joining us for our Blog Spotlight interview, Liza! For those of you who want to find out more about Liza, check out her website at mossandgrove.com
Or come out to our Fairy House Workshop on Friday, April 21, from 11:00 AM – 3:00 PM and find out how cool she is in person!