Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Author Interview with Patricia Polacco!

From The Blessing Cup
The DMS was lucky enough to interview Patricia Polacco, author of numerous amazing children's stories. Lizzy recently reviewed her latest book The Junkyard Wonders, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about her experience as an author and illustrator. So, without further ado... take it away, Patricia! 

What is the best part about being a storyteller?

Watching the faces of the children while I am telling them a story. Seeing them react, feeding off of that energy and the story then comes to life even more. Takes on it's own energy. 

When did you start writing stories?

41. My mom bankrolled a trip to NY, she and I went together. I had set up appointments prior to going out there and we saw 16 publishers in 5 days. Before I had returned home I had sold 7 stories to 3 different houses. It was different back then... publishers still wanted talent and looked for people... the editors had control. NOW, now a new author has to pass the marketing dept. eyes for approval leaving children's books up to business men and women. A completely different side of the brain. It is a trend I am afraid of. Now my children are pushing me to self publish and put myself out there on forums I am not familiar with. I use an electric typewriter still. I don't even own a computer. SO things have changed since I was first starting out. Meteor was the first book published. I remember during our first visit, my mom and I walked past a little independent book store over off of 57th street and saying do you ever think we will see one of my books in this window. When we went back for the release of was there in the window. I miss my mom and still think of her especially whenever I am in N.Y.  

The characters you write are very real and relatable. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

Family members, personal narratives about people I know. They are all people that I have in my life in one way or another. Sometimes it is my environment. For instance I was running around Lake Merrit in Oakland Ca., and would run by the Canada Geese who all spent time there at and around the bird sanctuary. (I had to slow down because there was a lot of goose poop and it was slippery to run through) but I wanted to write about them and that was where Rechenka's Eggs and I Can Hear the Sun came from. I was on the road and had just completed, I Can Hear The Sun and had sent it off for the publishers to do what they do. Then I got that call all "parents" don't want to hear and my nephew Brosie had been killed in a car accident. I was undone. I called my editor and said...."I know who Fondo needs to be". They didn't even bat an eye, sent the project back and I redid the illustrations using my nephew. I poured over photos of Brosie and my kids growing up together....and it helped me. I think it helped me process his death and my grief. So the stories are very much about real people in my life.

This is the original Fondo from I Can Hear the SunIt is done after my cousin Brosie. Rufus Ambrose Barber.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you

Robert McCloskey, Make way for Ducklings, but more for his Homer Price series. I thought he had just a delightful sense of humor. Of course Dr. Seuss, I feel that Horton Hatches the Egg is one of the finest pieces of children's literature. It teaches so much. And I loved Roald Dahl. Such a deliciously dark sense of humor...but empowering children. The children took care of their world as crazy as it was. I love his work. 

If you could grant the world one wish, what would it be?

A real and lasting peace among all peoples and among animals and people. 

If you could befriend a character from one of your stories, who would you befriend? Why?

They are my friends. So I guess I am friends with them all...and you can see why in my books. Ginger, from Ginger and Petunia, I have known her since H.S. and she did have a pig named Petunia. Even the nasty characters like the woman form In My Mother's House.....who was so hateful and hurtful.....I also will run across those in my life..and they will end up in my books as well. 

If you could have chat with yourself when you were a small girl, what would you want to talk about?

I would want to tell myself that I am not dumb. To have courage and believe that she wasn't really dumb and that there really are no limitations in life. 

It was wonderful to meet you at Linda’s Story Time in Monroe, CT, and we were happy to see so many kids excited about their books. Will you be visiting Connecticut again any time soon? 

I do a lot of schools on the East Coast and usually end up in CT. at least once a tour season. 
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                                     Cutest picture ever!


  1. What a wonderful interview. So sad about her nephew, though. Reading about her trip to NY and selling all those manuscripts, wow, wow, wow! Yes, things have definitely changed tremendously, and I say go for the self-publishing, Patricia. You won't regret it!

    1. Hi Lynn- Thanks for stopping by. So glad you enjoyed the interview! Loved your comments. :)

  2. What a wonderful and refreshing interview! I wish I could time travel and go back to when things were different for writers sometimes. But I still LOVE my job! I also adore Make Way for Ducklings and good old Horton. My baby has a Horton stuffed animal actually. ;D