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Tuesday, August 23, 2016

The Secret to Writing for Kids: Author Interview with Annabelle Fisher

What inspired you to write The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper
I hope it’s okay to say that the story arrived before I understood where it came from. I only realized after I’d completed the first draft, that I was embroidering upon my family history. In the story, fifth grade poet, Pixie Piper, has always felt different. When her mother reveals she’s a descendant of Mother Goose, Pixie is anxious for details. But her mother was orphaned very early and doesn’t know anything – except that the ‘Goose Ladies’ may be coming for her.

Once I began thinking about Mrs. Piper’s backstory, I realized that she had a lot in common with my mother, who was also an orphan. She lived in an orphanage until age seven, when she was sent to live with relatives who didn’t speak English. She couldn’t understand them and I’m certain she never heard a single Mother Goose rhyme in their home. Yet, when I was little, she taught me dozens of them. I can still recite them, too.

Who encouraged you along the way?
Although my mother passed away a while ago, I get encouragement from another relative, my cousin, who teaches fourth grade. She read several drafts of The Secret Destiny to her class and gave me great feedback.

Prior to this book, what was your publishing and writing background? 
I’ve written nine other books for middle grade readers under a different name. The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper is my first full-fledged fantasy, so I decided to use my mother’s name, Annabelle Fisher.

Are you active with any children’s writers groups?
I’ve belonged to SCBWI ever since I began writing for children. I taught writing for children and YA’s in the Graduate Writing Department of Manhattanville College for twelve years. I also lead workshops for children, teens, and adults.

You are published by Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins. How did that happen? 
I sent The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper out to two publishers. Greenwillow came in with an offer first. I believe it happened in two weeks. Amazing!

I love the whimsy of your front cover. Did you have much say in the way it would look?I love the cover, too. Actually, it was a complete surprise. But the illustrator, Natalie Andrewson, was just right for Pixie.

What frustrated you the most in writing this book? 
The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper is a humorous book. But it’s hard to be funny all the time. My editor kept urging me to keep it up. And I’m glad she did.

What surprised you the most about the process?
The wonderful thing about writing Pixie’s story was how many times the characters surprised me. They often acted in ways I wasn’t expecting -- kinder, meaner, braver, or more impulsive. Sometimes I felt like their companion, rather than their creator.

What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner?
To be patient with myself, the process, and the folks on the other side of the desk.

What message would you like parents and children to take away from your books?Two things: Be kind and be open to wonder

What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been given that you’d like to share?
When you think you’re done, do one more revision.

What other works do you have in progress?
A sequel to The Secret Destiny of Pixie Piper will come out next Spring. It’s called Pixie Piper and the Matter of the Batter.

Any last words or tips?
Thank you for asking me to this interview!

That's the end for this week's interview. If you'd to know more about this book and other upcoming ones, here's some ways to get you started.

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