Archive for November 3rd, 2021

It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Faye Rapoport DesPres earned her MFA from the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College and has published creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry in a variety of literary journals. Faye’s first book, Message From a Blue Jay, is a personal essay collection published by Buddhapuss Ink in 2014. A lifelong wildlife advocate and animal lover, Faye donates a portion of the proceeds from her children’s books, the Stray Cat Stories series, to non-profit animal rescue organizations. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband Jean-Paul Des Pres.

Q: Congratulations on the release of your book, Frazier: The Very Special Cat. What was your inspiration for it?

A: Frazier is a real cat, as is (or was) the subject of each of my children’s books. I wanted to write his story because he is indeed a very special cat. I knew his story would both delight children and inspire compassion.

Q: When did your passion for children’s books begin? Did you have a favorite book when you were a child?

A: I began writing children’s books several years ago because I wanted to share the stories of some of the cats I’ve helped rescue. I thought the stories would both entertain children and teach them about animal rescue.

I remember reading the Beatrix Potter books when I was a child and feeling very inspired by them. I borrowed every Beatrix Potter book from our small, local library in upstate New York.

Q: Did you take any workshops or courses before you started writing?

A: I took several classes in poetry writing earlier in my life before earning my MFA in Creative Writing in 2010, focusing on creative nonfiction. I also studied and worked in journalism earlier in my career.

Q: How was your creative process like during the writing of this book and how long did it take you to complete it? Did you face any difficulties along the way?

A: This is my third children’s book, so I was prepared for the process in a way I wasn’t with the first book in the series. My process was to draft the story itself and then create my own rudimentary layout, imagining the illustrations. My editor and I then went back and forth with the text a number of times. Then, the illustrator began her work based on the text and the preliminary layout plan. The entire process from beginning to publication took a little over a year. Working as part of a team (author, editor, illustrator, publisher) has its challenges when you all live in different states and are working on different projects at the same time — never mind the life challenges everyone was facing during the pandemic.

Q: What do you find most challenging about writing for children?

A: For me, understanding how the text has to flow with the illustrations was sometimes a challenge, along with letting go of some of my own preferences for the text in order to make everything work well together and for kids. Sometimes my preference for a more “poetic” text didn’t quite work, so edits had to be made.

Q: What is your writing schedule like and how do you balance it with your other work and family time?

A: I usually write early in the mornings. That makes it easier to complete my writing work before the pressures of teaching and the rest of my life starts taking over.

Q: Tell us about your publisher and how you found it.

A: My publisher for the picture books is Writer’s Coffee Bar Press. It is a small imprint owned by the former owner of Buddhapuss Ink, the independent press out of New Jersey that published Message From a Blue Jay. Buddhapuss Ink is sadly no longer in business, but owner and publishing pro MaryChris Bradley continues with the new imprint.

Q: What was it like working with an illustrator and how much control did you have over the artwork?

A: I have known my illustrator, Laurel McKinstry Petersen, since we were in high school. She is a really talented artist, and I love her work. I had almost no control over the artwork — Laurel and the publisher handled that side of things. I did have an opportunity to look at the illustrations and make comments or suggestions, and if something was really important to me I was able to say so.

Q: Do you think that becoming an author entails sacrifices?

A: Yes, absolutely. You have to sacrifice some time and freedom if you want to dedicate time to writing on a daily basis. Some people wouldn’t consider that a sacrifice if you love writing and you’re doing what you love. However, writing isn’t easy — at least not for me. It’s hard work, even when you’re writing a children’s book.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring children’s writers? Do you know of any helpful resources you’d like to share?

A: I would advise them to learn as much about children’s books as possible — to read a lot of children’s books and talk to those who have written or published them. I know there are a lot of online resources, and some organizations can help writers.

Q:  What’s on the horizon for you?

A: I am working on a number of writing projects at the moment. I have to wait to see what comes together and works! I am also currently teaching online writing classes for children I might expand to writing workshops for adults, as I taught college writing for five years.

Connect with the author on the web:

Website: www.fayerapoportdespres.com

Twitter: @FayeRapoDesPres

Instagram: FayeInBoston

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100058817963789

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: