Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday Spotlight on Cynthia Platt this week! Cynthia was at our 65 James Street store for Small Business Saturday, and we still have some of her books available for gifts.
Thank you so much for joining us, Cynthia! Can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing? How would you like us to introduce you?
I’m a children’s book editor as well as the author of three picture books (Panda-Monium; A Little Bit of Love; and Grow). My first middle grade novel, Parker Bell & the Science of Friendship, will be published in May 2019.
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write? What can readers expect from your work?
I like to read stories that are fun, hopeful, and optimistic, and I like to write them, too. I’ve tried to write darker stories and they never seem to work out. So, I’m going to stick with the lighter side of life for now—pandas looking for a snack (Panda-Monium); mother and daughter mice searching for ingredients around a farm to make a treat with a little bit of love in it (A Little Bit of Love); a girl whose seed of an idea to create community in her city neighborhood grows into a beautiful garden (Grow). Especially with Grow, I wanted to create a story that spoke to the power of change—and the power we all hold within ourselves to make the world around us better. That’s a message that all kids need. They are strong and creative.
What was the inspiration for your newest release? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
My inspirations for the picture book Grow came from my two favorite girls: my daughter and my niece. They are both very civically-minded, something I admire greatly about them. My niece started a “nonprofit” called Grow, for which she did yard work for family and neighbors and then donated the proceeds to charity. And my daughter is not only one to take the to streets to rally for causes she believes in, but also has a long history of having lemonade and cupcake stands to benefit causes she believes in—from homeless shelters to equal marriage rights, to everything in between. So, sitting right in front of me are two young women who who’ve tried in different ways to make a positive difference in their world.
The trick was to move from inspiration to story. Having grown up in a section of Boston that was sadly lacking in green space when I was young, I liked the idea of having the change in the story be one that makes her neighborhood more beautiful. And I loved the idea of having her idea inspire so many other people to take action as well. I also wanted to keep the text very simple so that readers could see, visually, the impact she has on her neighborhood.
It took a lot of trial and error, writing too much text and then cutting it, but the story eventually got there!
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
My first novel! Specifically a young middle grade novel for kids ages 8 and up. It’s the story of a Parker Bell, a young and highly fashionable scientist, who has to navigate both the challenges of a Science Triathlon at school and the challenges of adjusting to new friendships—and changes in an old one. It’s funny and silly and full of robots. Parker is strong, opinionated, deeply committed to her best friend, and of course, to scientific enquiry.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
We converted a small bedroom in our house into my office—complete with lots of bookshelves, a futon for lounging on, and my desk. The desk itself isn’t large, but it’s covered with things I love and fictional women who inspire me—Princess Leia, Wonder Woman, Leslie Knope from Parks and Recreation, Eowyn from The Lord of the Rings, and even Dana Scully from The X-Files. I guess you could say that my desk errs on the geeky side. (You could also say that I err on the geeky side!) But it’s a fun room and it’s the first time I’ve had a dedicated space to work in, so it makes me happy.
As for things I need to write or edit, my laptop is my best creative friend when I’m drafting, but I have to edit on paper with a pen in hand. I always have a notebook around as well so that I can do things like draw my own little picture book dummies and map out how a story might come together. There’s also the matter of having the right pens and pencils: always green and purple pens, always mechanical pencils.
Where can people find your work? (Besides ABSW ;)–though they should totally check here first!)
I try to point people to Indiebound, and also B&N, Books-a-Million, and even Amazon. Here’s a link to all of my books and places you can find them:
How can we follow your work, share your awesomeness, or otherwise stalk you in a totally non-creepy way?
I’m on Twitter (@cynplatt) and Instagram (@cynthiaplattbooks), as well as on Facebook. You can also check out my website, cynthiaplattbooks.com.
Thank you so much, again, for the great interview, Cynthia, and for being part of our Small Business Saturday! For our readers who are still looking for some great gifts, check out our Children’s Room and the display of all our Small Business Saturday authors—including Cynthia!