Hello, wonderful readers!
Today, I am excited to revisit with author Beth Anderson who's returning to the blog with some beautiful new picture book titles!
Welcome back, Beth! Thank you for returning to the KidLit Oasis as my guest—which means you liked my hospitality the first time ☺, but it also means you have a new book coming out (or books in your case!) that you'll be sharing with our readers! Congratulations!
So, first, let me ask you this: I know that every book is special to its author in a particular way—how are these two books special to you? Dear to your heart in a different way? What was the experience like, compared to previous ones? Is there an interesting behind-the-scenes about the idea for the story, its creation, an unusual journey to publication perhaps? What stands out?
BA: Thank you so much for inviting me to share REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT: LEADING THE MINUTE WOMEN IN THE FIGHT FOR INDEPENDENCE and FRANZ’S PHANTASMAGORICAL MACHINE! These are definitely two very different stories!
FRANZ’’s story, based on Franz Gsellmann and his “World Machine,” was one of my early manuscripts. It grabbed the child in me who loved to tinker, putter, and build. A celebration of curiosity, it explores the power of wonder and challenges us to put aside traditional expectations and judgements. Just as Franz’s machine faced criticism before finally finding appreciation, my creation built with words faced rejection before someone appreciated it, too. It’s funny how every story ends up ringing with personal relevance! Lots of learning happened with Franz’s story—such an important part of my writing journey. This was the manuscript that interested agent Stephanie Fretwell-Hill in my writing. She “got it.” And FRANZ opened the door.
REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT had a long journey, too. My attempts at a creative structure didn’t work. In addition, some missing details seemed to sap the strength of the story. That story waited in “the drawer” for a year while I struggled with how to write it. But in time I realized that the emotional truths were what powered Prudence’s story, and that thread didn’t depend on the missing details. I loved that her story offered a window into life behind well-known events like the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere’s Ride, and the battles at Lexington and Concord. The uniqueness of this untold story convinced me to take a historical fiction path using the most verifiable details and find a way to tell it. If we don’t tell a story because we can’t find every detail, then there are many important stories that will never be told. Researching her story, I connected to some local historians and discovered how her story was personal and continued to inspire people today. That helped me find the “heart” and a way to tell Prudence Wright’s story.
Q: And to piggyback on the questions above, did anything surprise you with the books or the publisher's approach (whether it was the same publisher or a new one)? Did you learn anything new? Was it harder or easier to bring the books into the world?
BA: FRANZ’S PHANTASMAGORICAL MACHINE is my first book with Kids Can Press. And REVOLUTIONARY PRUDENCE WRIGHT is my fourth book with Calkins Creek. Each publisher works a little differently, and I think each book offers different challenges in the publishing process. With FRANZ, I worked with several editors, and the story stalled a bit as we sought permissions. This was my first experience with the world of permissions—the machine can be seen as art, so would be copyrighted, and the story features the Atomium, a structure that requires permission for illustrations.
PRUDENCE’s story brought new awareness when it was time to vet illustrations. When I wrote the story, I didn’t think about the potential challenges in illustrating a cast of 30 women. But when it was time to vet the art, the question of diversity came up. I was fortunate to find someone who dug into historical records and found African American and Native American families and women in the town of Pepperell.
Every story stretches you in new directions and widens your awareness and thinking for the next one!
Q: When did you find out who the illustrator was for the project and were you asked for an input? What was it like working with the illustrator for this book? When did you first see the art and what was your reaction?
BA: For both books, I was consulted as editors considered who might illustrate. I’m always grateful for the editor’s skillset in choosing just the right illustrator who can bring a specialness that will enhance the text.
With FRANZ, Caroline Hamel surprised me with her whimsical style and bright palette, making a story from the past thoroughly modern. She brought a playfulness and a European look which really makes the story sing.
With PRUDENCE, Susan Reagan brought strength and beauty and a gorgeous palette. I was amazed by all the historical details and so delighted by her creative spreads that incorporated documents. And the dramatic spreads—Wow!
I think my favorite part of the publishing process is seeing the sketches for the first time and then watching the art develop. The illustrations are always more than I had imagined!
Q: What do you hope to accomplish within the next 2-3 years? Any specific goals or aspirations—personal or writing related—that you could share with us?
BA: I don’t have any lofty goals. :) At this point in my life, I’m thrilled to be on this writing journey. I hope to keep on discovering ideas, people, and events to write stories that engage kids and open up their world, and also to be a positive part of the kid lit community. It’d be fun to write a middle grade novel and something really sparse and lyrical. In general, I’m looking forward to being WITH people, going on some traveling adventures, and hanging out with my grandkids. AND…I’m striving to grow a bumper crop of tomatoes!
Q: What's coming up for you next? Please tell us about any other exciting news, upcoming events or anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
BA: I’m excited about the next books in the publishing pipeline. I’m over-the-moon amazed with Jeremy Holmes’ illustrations for THOMAS JEFFERSON’S BATTLE FOR SCIENCE: BIAS, TRUTH, AND A MIGHTY MOOSE. Can’t wait to share that story! I have a couple others on the way that are unannounced so will have to stay mum on those.
Thank you, Beth! As always, it was a pleasure chatting with you and featuring your amazing books on my blog! Wishing all the best with these titles, your upcoming projects, and all future stories you'll be bringing to life for young readers!
Connect with Beth Anderson:
>>> Click in the book covers to purchase Beth's books <<<
G I V E A W A Y! ! !
Comment on this post to be entered in the giveaway for a chance to win a copy of your choice from the two titles above!
4/12/2022 03:13:49 pm
Thank you for the interview! I enjoy this author's books and would love to win a keeper copy. I specially enjoyed reading about her research and figuring out how to write the heart of her story.
4/12/2022 05:40:27 pm
I've never heard of Prudence Wright's story before. I love reading books about overlooked historical figures.
4/12/2022 11:10:26 pm
Congratulations, Beth! Thanks for sharing these details about both your books. I think readers don't realize how much work goes into creating these books. I look forward to reading them.
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About Rosie J. Pova
Rosie J. Pova is a multi-published, award-winning children's author and kid lit Writing Coach. She's the creator of Picture Book Mastery System™ that is proven to help emerging children's writers advance their career and get closer to their publishing goals.
Rosie's latest picture book, Sunday Rain, was featured in The New York Times and recommended by Parents magazine. Her upcoming picture book, The School of Failure: A Story About Success will be released in the spring of 2022 in both China and the USA.
Rosie also loves to visit schools and her interactive workshops empower students to unleash their creativity and grow in confidence through reading, writing, and creating. Teachers and librarians love Rosie for her bubbly, upbeat personality which captures students' attention, encourages them to think creatively, and motivates them to pursue big dreams.
She has been featured on TV, radio, podcasts, and print media, and also speaks on women's and moms’ topics, sharing her journey from a Bulgarian immigrant to a published author.
Find out more about Rosie's online courses, mentorships, and her work by visiting her website: RosieJPova.com
Check out her Critique Services here, her Workshops here, and her school visits page here.
Rosie is represented by Jennifer Herrington of Harvey Klinger Literary.