By Lindsay Bandy
**A free critique, a free signed hard copy of LOOK WHAT I CAN DO, and a free signed copy of SAMANTHA HANSEN HAS ROCKS IN HER HEAD will each go to a different winning commenter, to be presented at our August 17th Industry Scoop Sundae Event! **
Lindsay: Hi there, Nancy, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café! Thanks so much for joining us to chat, and for your exciting giveaways! We like you already. Now, as we settle into our booth to chat, what might you be drinking?
Nancy: I drink, maybe, two Cokes a month and you caught me drinking one. If these interview answers are silly, blame it on the fizz.
Lindsay: Well, we like silly, so bring on the fizz. Are you snacking on anything?
Nancy: Today’s snack of choice is Wheat Thins (the new lime-flavored ones) and super hot salsa. I feel like there’s wine in my future because I’ll need to temper the spiciness, of course.
Lindsay: Fizz and wine? This interview might get very interesting! First of all, we’d like to congratulate you on being nominated for PA’s 2014-2015 Keystone to Reading Book Award for LOOK WHAT I CAN DO! How exciting!
Nancy: THANKS! The book is nominated for the Preschool List. I’m excited about this in the same way actors appreciate being nominated for an Academy Award.
Lindsay: We’re rooting for you! As writers and illustrators, we’d love to hear a little bit about the submission process from you. Can you give us some details about how you got started? Any advice or encouragement?
Nancy: I started off believing I had written amazing picture books and that editors would fall out of the sky to acquire them. Shocker. That. Just. Did. Not. Happen! After years, and I mean years, of submitting on my own, I gave up my dream of being a picture book author, and enjoyed a bit of success writing for children’s magazines, parenting magazines, anthologies, and newspapers. Eventually, I wrote an early chapter book called Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head. I sent it out to agents and one actually called back. However, that book was destined to become a young middle-grade novel instead and after it sold, I was destined to leave that agent. I realized I still loved picture books, and he preferred to concentrate on novels. Years later, and I mean years (yep, I know I’ve said that already), my first picture book sold. It was a submission I did on my own.
The advice I want to offer is (loosely?) disguised in the word years. A few authors are overnight successes, but it doesn’t happen that often. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Meet editors. Meet agents. Hang out with people who support your efforts, people who are your cheerleaders. If you love the process, stick with it because a long time may pass before your book deal.
Lindsay: We’re so glad you hung in there and didn’t give up. Thanks for encouraging us! I know one of the things you love to do now that you’re published is talk to kids about writing. What is your favorite part about doing school visits and presentations for kids?
Nancy: I’m pretty much a kid at heart, so I love being in an auditorium filled with my “peers.” People tell me my energetic programs inspire students to get writing right away, but secretly, it’s the kids who inspire me—inspire me to write, inspire me to embrace a new generation of diverse thinkers, and inspire me to go home and contemplate acting my age.
Lindsay: You’ve said that nature is a common theme in your work, and that you really enjoy traveling. If you could drop everything and go anywhere right now, where would you go?
Nancy: Out to dinner. Oh, wait, you mean, really go somewhere. Alaska is calling, but I have a ticket to Germany in my possession, so I better get packing.
Lindsay: Ooh, now we are all a little jealous! Staying on the topic of travel, imagine that you are given the opportunity to time travel for one day. What author from the past might you choose to have coffee with? Why?
Nancy: Margaret Wise Brown. I would tell her that Goodnight Moon is alive and well and sold in every place she could ever imagine. And then I’d offer her salsa and wine instead of coffee and beg her to critique my work-in-progress.
That would be a fabulous choice! And an enviable critique.
You’ve been a delight, Nancy, and we can’t wait to meet you on August 17th!
SPEAKING of critiques, who wants to win one at our Sundae Event with the fabulous Nancy?? Or one of her books?? Comment, my friends, and you just may be one of the lucky winners. (You do have to be present to receive the critique or book, but if you can’t come and still want to say hi to Nancy, just let me know in your comment.)
A little more about Nancy….
Nancy Viau is the author of City Street Beat, Storm Song, and Look What I Can Do! (nominated for the 2014-2015 Keystone to Reading Book Award/Preschool List). Her middle-grade title, Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head, was published in 2008. Viau enjoys presenting assembly programs and writing workshops, and along with the young writers she meets, she finds inspiration in nature, travel, and her job as a librarian assistant. Look for her article, “(Work)Shop Talk,” in a future issue of the SCBWI Bulletin. http://www.NancyViau.com.