Thursday, December 12, 2019

Author Spotlight - Lisa Anne Novelline on her Award-Winning Books

HOW DID YOU GET THE IDEA FOR YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? Each of the books in this book series takes place during one of the seasons. Even though it may be read in any season, each book usually integrates the environment into the story to encourage young readers in this technological society to stay connected with the outdoors. For Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops, the target season was spring. Developing the story around the rain followed very naturally. Integrating the deeper metaphor of rain as representing adversity and offering reframing suggestions to strengthen resiliency again followed naturally. Situating these themes into Piccadilly’s magical world to empower the young readers while also helping them play with possibility and continue to strengthen their fantastic imaginations was truly the final impetus that led to this story.

            “Nobody will believe us,” said Otis.
            “They don’t have to.” Piccadilly smiled.
I love this line because it supports the aura of safety so necessary to encourage young children to explore and create, the idea that caregivers love and support them even when they don’t necessarily understand them. This deceptively simple but powerful concept helps to encourage emerging young problem solvers to take intellectual risks without fear of judgment.


WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GLEAN FROM YOUR AWARD WINNING BOOK? I want them to feel safe and supported and then to let their super, duper imaginations soar! If they also gain insight into strategies to increase resiliency that would be marvelous.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO BECOME A WRITER? I loved to write as a very small child. I began writing poetry and keeping a journal at the age of six. I never lost my love of writing even throughout other pursuits. Returning to this passion full-time was a very natural circling back for me.

WHO HAS HAD THE GREATEST INFLUENCE ON YOUR WRITING STYLE?  As a children’s book author, I have been most influenced by Beatrix Potter, Margaret Wise Brown, Maurice Sendak, Madeleine L’Engle, and Shel Silverstein. I think Potter helped me to feel comfortable with trusting young readers with sophisticated and often witty language. Wise Brown helped me focus on the importance of the small special moment. Sendak helped me to giggle and keep it imaginative and fun! L’Engle helped me to stretch my mind and integrate the power of possibility. And Silverstein helped to strengthen my resolve to cherish the beauty, elegance, and poetry of the actual words. Beyond children’s books, my writing is probably most heavily influenced by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Frost, and Shirley Jackson.

TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT YOUR EXPERIENCE AS A WRITER: Besides actually creating new stories, the most fun I have as a writer often comes from meeting my readers and their families. For example, last year a family told me that her daughter recreated Piccadilly’s outfit from Piccadilly and the Waltzing Wind and wore it so she could “play Piccadilly.” Another young reader asked me at the end of a school visit what I was doing for the rest of the day, and if maybe I could stay at the school with his class instead. These are the moments that mean everything. These are the types of joys that keep me going, not necessarily “haha” funny, but as Piccadilly and her brother Sam would say, “funny as in unexpected!” (Piccadilly and the Fairy Polka)

TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR WRITING PROCESS: I generally write my first drafts very quickly, within one week. Then I rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit and rewrite and edit… you get the idea! With both of the last two of my books, I threw the working drafts away after months of work and rewrote the entire stories, reusing some key elements but discarding the rest. I did this because of the tendency to defend and hold onto phrases. I wanted sweeping tonal changes, so I challenged myself to relook from the beginning, having already immersed myself in the stories. After that, rewriting and editing began again. Finally, when I thought I had taken it as far as I could, I hired a very seasoned professional children’s book editor and started the process again, incorporating her experience and helpful suggestions. Each of my books took about a year to get to the stage where I felt ready to publish, and then I moved to the next steps: working with the illustrators, editing the images, formatting the pages, working with the printers, etc. Two years of diligent work preceded the publishing of each of my first three books.

WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST CHALLENGE AS A WRITER? I think being a self-published author is so filled with challenges that they are almost impossible to list. Tenacity is the key.

IF YOU COULD BE COMPARED TO A WELL-KNOWN AUTHOR, WHO WOULD YOU MOST WANT THIS TO BE AND WHY? I appreciate kind comparisons to any admired author. But I also know only too well that I can never outshine someone within their distinct arena and using their parameters, so I cherish the notion that I have created my unique style as well, and perhaps in this small way, I, too, cannot be surpassed.

HOW DID YOU GET PUBLISHED? I only sought an agent/publisher for my first manuscript and even then only queried a few. I became enamored with the degree of control I could have over my finished product, and once used to it, was tremendously reluctant to relinquish it. I have been approached since then by several publishers. Perhaps one of these days I will agree, but it is probably more likely I will enter into a distribution arrangement and maintain control over my words, illustrations, print quality, intellectual property, length of time in-print, etc.

CAN YOU OFFER ANY ADVICE FOR WRITERS ON HOW BEST TO PROMOTE THEIR BOOK? I believe in social media, not as a panacea or a guaranteed way to make sales, but as a means of developing relationships with readers who understand and appreciate one’s work. Additionally, I think mailing lists are very important. They correlate more directly to sales.

WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ACCOMPLISHMENT? I am not sure how to qualitatively compare those accomplishments of which I am most proud. I think the completion of each of the three books, after two years of diligent effort per title, being able to see and hold each of the finished products topped most anything else.

WHAT ARE YOUR GREATEST LITERARY ASPIRATIONS? I will finish the “Piccadilly and Her Magical World” Book Series with at least one more book. I am also writing a young adult novel, but beyond that, I plan to keep writing. I do suspect a spooky tale or two to be in my future!

TELL US SOMETHING PEOPLE MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT THEY MIGHT FIND INTERESTING: If you look around my writing room you will see I surround myself with books, small felted animals, puzzles, statues, etc., things that inspire me, but what you might not expect to find is Vegeta from Dragon Ball Z! I love his character design. I keep him right in front of me on my desk. The determination on his face inspires me to press on through adversity.

IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH OUR READERS? I want to thank anyone who invested the time and energy into reading this and other author interviews. There is so much wonderful literature being self-published these days, and yet there remains an unfair stigma that being self-published is second-rate. I think the mainstream industry is less willing to take risks on unknown, innovative artists, in favor of playing it safe with what they know will sell. The self-publishing book scene seems somewhat comparable to indie music and indie movies, offering fresh voices and points of view to those willing to look a little deeper.



DO YOU HAVE ANY NEW BOOKS IN THE WORKS? At the moment I am focusing on promoting Piccadilly and the Jolly Raindrops, as it just came out. I am also brainstorming Piccadilly’s next adventure, and continuing work on my novel.

LITERARY CLASSICS Book Awards & Reviews International Book Awards • Top Honors Youth Book Awards • Seal of Approval

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