Natasha Wing is a household name among our kiddos as her “The Night Before” Series has become part of our holiday traditions. After featuring several of her books, I’m excited to feature HER. When you read Natasha’s books to your kiddos, read this interview to them too because they can see how ideas for writing books surround them . . . at local bakeries, through good books, and even at a “Believe It or Not” auditorium visit. Inspiration surrounds us all the time if only we can see it!
Kidsbook Friends Exclusive Author Interview Questions:
What experiences, people, and/or books were influential in your life, leading you to write your own children’s books?
The book that inspired me to write children’s books is The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg. When I saw that book at a Christmas fair, I picked it up and had a white light experience. All the people around me disappeared and I was spotlighted in white sparkly light (I know, it sounds all airy fairy). That’s when I decided I wanted to make magic for kids by writing children’s stories. It took me a few years after that to take the leap – with my husband’s added encouragement.
When did you begin writing children’s book manuscripts?
I started writing about 1992. I took a college class and attended an SCBWI workshop and started writing.
What was the first book you got published and with which publishing agency?
Hippity Hop, Frog on Top with Simon & Schuster.
How many books have you written that are published?
There are 18 Night Before books, with four more on the way. Then I have 6 other titles, with a book about Jackie O due out in 2016.
Which of your books is your favorite and why?
I do love The Night Before Easter since I love bunnies and this was the first book that started the series. I also love Pearl vs. the Tooth Fairy for its humor, and An Eye for Color: The Story of Josef Albers (which is now back in print) because I personally knew the subject. He was an old neighbor of mine when I lived in Connecticut.
What was the inspiration for your main character of your favorite book?
Pearl was inspired by a friend’s daughter who wanted to keep her tooth and not give it to the Tooth Fairy. So my friend had her daughter write a letter to the Tooth Fairy to explain why her tooth wouldn’t be under the pillow.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
The idea for my Night Before series came from The Night Before Christmas. Jalapeno Bagels was inspired by a real bakery in Arcata, California. And the one I’m working on now about Robert Ripley was inspired by coming across a cartoon by him and remembering when I visited a “Believe it or Not!” auditorium in Florida as a kid and being curious about the man behind the cartoons.
How long did it take you to write, edit, and publish your first book?
The first one I got lucky on. I wrote it quickly and submitted it and it was accepted in 6 months! When that happened I thought this publishing stuff was going to be a piece of cake! Was I wrong. Other books have taken me years to complete.
What advice can you share with children reading your books?
I would love for whomever is reading my book to think of reading time as fantasy time. Find a special spot to read and let your mind wander. Then if something in the book interests you, explore your library or online to learn more.
What advice can you give to those of us who are working to write and publish children’s books?
Everyone has their own journey to publication. Sometimes you work for years to polish your manuscript and years to find an editor. Other times you could meet your editor at a conference. Or perhaps you know someone in the industry and get a lucky break. I say stay open to the opportunity, and better yet, make your opportune moments. Introduce yourself to writers and editors. Attend workshops. Send your manuscript out. Don’t be shy. If this is something you really want, the stars will align.
What are three hobbies/interests you have besides writing?
I enjoy seeing other places in the world so this year I’m going to live in Paris for a month! I like to hike and watch HGTV – I’m addicted to watching people beautify spaces. Also, I collect squished pennies.
“A person is a fool to become a writer. His only compensation is absolute freedom. He has no master except his own soul, and that, I am sure, is why he does it.” Roald Dahl