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Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Kim Norman's CROCODADDY!!


     I told you about my recent school visit in Clanton, Alabama with fellow author, Kim Norman. And I interviewed her a while back when her first book, JACK OF ALL TAILS, came out. Well, I also wanted to tell you more about her adorable new picture book, CROCODADDY (illustrated by David Walker)! My interview follows....

Q.     It's a beautiful day to enjoy the swimming hole and a Daddy and Son take full advantage! What was your inspiration for CROCODADDY and did you have one?

A.     The Crocodaddy lived in our backyard pool! Well, you'll get a clue to his true identity if you read the dedication, which is to my husband. It was a pretend game my boys played with their dad, especially my younger son, who was a toddler when the game came about.
     My own dad was definitely a Crocodaddy at heart. My siblings and I had great fun, playing with him in the lakes in Maine where we have always vacationed.
     I kept thinking there was a picture book in there, somewhere. I generally try to keep my picture book scribblings contained in one notebook per book, although I don't alway manage. Sometimes I just grab what's handy and visible on my desk, especially if I'm taking a project on the road. (Say, to have something constructive to do while my son has his guitar lesson.)
     I did manage to keep all the drafts of Crocodaddy in one notebook, and I'm really glad I did. It preserved the chronology of the stories evolution, which did not evolve the way I had remembered it. I thought that I'd come up with the refrain, ("Crocodaddy, Crocodaddy...") first, but it turns out, the refrain came later, after a couple of previous drafts, including one draft that most members of my critique group thought would be too scary. I'm really glad I have that notebook to look back at previous versions of the story.

Q.     The story is written in rhyme - was it hard to achieve that perfect rhythm or does it come easily to you?

A.     I confess it does come rather naturally to me. I have a pretty good sense of rhythm which also helped when I took tap dancing lessons. I was surprised at how well I did at tap dancing. Turns out, for tap, if you've got rhythm, you can get by without as much athletic ability, which I do NOT have! No one will ever mistake me for Ann Miller or any of those great tappers of the 40s and 50s, but I can at least match them tap for tap in my head!
     I'm finding that rhyme is also my favorite way to write. It's the only type of writing that seems to pull me, obsessively, back to the work. Other types of writing, I tend to procrastinate, as though I'm avoiding homework.

Q.     This is your second book now. (The first was JACK OF ALL TAILS.) How does it feel to be an established writer?

A.     Ah. Is anyone EVER an established writer? I know so many writers, some with many volumes to their name, who still struggle with uncertainties. But it does feel a bit more settled, this time. Less fleeting, like, "Hey, I can DO this!"
     I'm also noticing many people in my own town who are asking about the book, looking forward to its release. On the other hand, there are still plenty of people who don't know about it. A long-time acquaintance, a teacher, recently asked me if I could come to her school for career day, to talk about a book I illustrated 9 or 10 years ago, by a local author who self-published. I'm not ashamed of the book, by any means, but I do think my career has grown exponentially since then. She hadn't a clue that I had authored even one book since then, let alone four. (I have 2 more under contract, both scheduled for 2010.) And this is an elementary school teacher, who -- you would think -- might keep up with picture books written by local authors. After all, I've been written up in the local paper several times. So I guess things like that will always keep me grounded, with no chance of developing a big head!

Q.     Do you just LOVE the illustrations by David Walker for CROCODADDY?

A.     Oh my gosh, I can't even begin to TELL you how much I love those illustrations! It's so fun to share the book at school visits and see the students' eyes widen when they catch the clues David has placed in his paintings about the identify of the Crocodaddy. I also love the gorgeous saturated colors. I was inspired to paint a room to match the greens in the book.
     And the details are delightful. Today a member of my critique group told me she has been having fun reading it to her 2-year-old grandson, who calls it "the big book" because it's so much bigger than his board books. A 2-year-old doesn't quite get the concept that the Crocodaddy is mostly in the protagonist's imagination, but he is still having fun pointing out the details that David Walker added to the illustrations, like a cute little bird that shows up in a few spreads.

Q.     Any plans to celebrate CROCODADDY'S release in a fun way?

A.     I just ordered a batch of books for the first book signing at our town's pretty little museum in Smithfield, VA, on May 9th. It was kind of them to offer to host it for me. I've been very lucky with my book launches; people have been so generous. When my first book was launched, I was still working at our local newspaper. My boss and his wife hosted a party for me in the lovely garden of a local restaurant. The weather that night was golden.
     You never know how many to expect at a signing, of course. You always hope it won't be an embarrassment!! This signing is at the same time as our local farmers market, which attracts thousands (when the weather is good), and the museum is right next door to the market, so I'm hoping lots of folks will come over. But not more than 88, because that's all the books I've ordered!

Q.     What's coming next? What else do you have up your sleeve?

A.     Ooo, well, my agent told me just yesterday that she had sent a new story to 3 editors who had requested it, so... fingers crossed! It's in rhyme, basically a bedtime book, so I'm hoping there's still a market for bedtime books. She's also shopping around another book which got me some solid nibbles back before I was agented, so I'm hoping she'll have luck with that, too.
     I've promised myself I'll get back to work on a novel I've left untouched for too long. I just need to quiet that evil inner editor I always tell students about during my school visits. (I have pictures of her, which the kids think are hysterical.) Well, that, and I also need to exercise a little discipline. Summer's coming, at which point school visits die down, so that's my goal for the summer! (I THINK I can. I THINK I can!)

     Thanks Kim!

     Thanks e! You da best!

Kim has a great exercise called "Evil Editor" you can see by clicking HERE.
To visit other stops on Kim's tour click:

A Christian Worldview of Fiction, A Mom Speaks, A Patchwork of Books, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Booking Mama,Cafe of Dreams, Dolce Bellezza, Elizabeth O. Dulemba, Fireside Musings, KidzBookBuzz.com, Looking Glass Reviews, Maw Books Blog, Never Jam Today, Olive Tree, Our Big Earth, Reading is My Superpower, SMS Book Reviews, The 160 Acrewoods, Through a Child’s Eyes

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