GHOST IN THE HOUSE by Ammi-Joan Paquette and Adam Record
Halloween is my FAVORITE holiday so I'm thrilled be able to share this new holiday book with you—GHOST IN THE HOUSE written by Ammi-Joan Paquette and illustrated by Adam Record. It's simple, bold graphics and counting story will bewitch your favorite goblins! Ammi-Joan dropped by for a visit recently . . .
Q. GHOST IN THE HOUSE reads like such a simple story, but picture books can be deceiving that way. How long did it take you to write?
A. Actually, this story has an interesting history: A few years ago, an editor came very close to acquiring a manuscript of mine—a different spooky story. In the end, though, that piece didn’t go all the way for her. So she asked, “Do you have any other spooky rhyming picture books you could send me?” I did not; but I quickly set about creating some! I launched a brainstorming session fleshing out 5 different ideas. Three of these I pursued into manuscript drafts. One of these became GHOST IN THE HOUSE. Despite this winding journey, though, the story itself came to me pretty effortlessly. I spent a good deal of time working on the rhythm and rhyme, and packing in all the elements I wanted this so-very-short story to contain. But overall this story really feels like a gift (maybe the universe’s reward for my original ill-fated spooky manuscript, which was toiled over for years only to be torpedoed by an adorable blue ghost! J).
Q. In the bio it says the inspiration came from a game you used to play with your sister when you were kids. Can you elaborate?
A. Ha, blast from the past! My sister and I were big paper doll fanatics when we were young. We had dozens and dozens of hand-drawn paper girls and boys, along with all their respective bits of clothing, household items, and yes, tiny hand-written books. Our favorite game was “World”, whereby we spread hardcover books across the bed, and each book became a house inhabited by each doll family and all of their items. Over this World, my sister and I were god-like rulers, doling out possessions and generally policing behavior. Our official titles were “The Witch” and “The Ghost.” Hmmm… so, a bit of a convoluted story there, but the Witch and the Ghost monikers stuck from there!
Q. I love the big, bold artwork by Adam Record - his first picture book! How did you react when you saw the illustrations for the first time?
A. I absolutely ADORE Adam Record’s artwork! The ghost is my unabashed favorite, and I am in awe of the complexity of expressions and emotion he has conveyed in such seemingly simple illustrations. How did I react when I first saw them? I’m pretty sure I swooned. And I’m still swooning a little now.
Q. You write both picture books and novels. First, how do you find the time!? And second, do you find it difficult to switch gears between projects?
A. How do I find the time? Wherever I can, I guess. I tend to write pretty quickly in high volume when I am on deadline or when I’m “into” a project. And then I will go long stretches with very little writing, which could be seen as recharging the creative batteries, or simply procrastination. That relates to novels; picture books tend to simmer on the back burner for me, and I work on them here and there as the inspiration strikes. I don’t really have a problem with switching gears; that’s so much a part of my professional life—from the first time I began writing, when my children were small and I had to steal ten-minute blocks wherever I could—that I can’t really imagine doing it any other way. I feel like having a lot going on makes me more productive. When I have any time at all, I have to grab it and run!
Q. You also wrote a mid-grade ghost book, RULES FOR GHOSTING. So what is it about ghosts?
A. Good question! RULES FOR GHOSTING had its early beginnings all the way back in 2004—and was, in fact, the very first novel I began when I started writing seriously with an eye toward publication. Needless to say, it went through many incarnations before being published… and then ended up coming out ON THE SAME DAY as its picture book counterpart, GHOST IN THE HOUSE. Gotta love the wonders of publishing J
Q. I remember way back in 2009 when THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING FAIRIES was about to come out. Publishing has been going gang-busters for you since then and I'm so happy for you! Can you share your path to publication with my readers?
A. It has been a pretty exciting journey! FAIRIES was acquired from a slush submission; I read about Tanglewood Press online and liked what I heard. Peggy Tierney has been wonderful to work with and I am so grateful to her for being my starting point on this great journey. After FAIRIES, I published a sequel with Tanglewood, THE TIPTOE GUIDE TO TRACKING MERMAIDS, which came out (glitter and all!) in 2012. In between, I was thrilled to publish my debut novel, NOWHERE GIRL, with Walker/Bloomsbury (this time through my lovely agent, Erin Murphy, which is a far more comfortable way to navigating the publishing minefield!). After that I sold several books, all to different publishers, between July 2010 and January 2012. As the publishing fates would have it, all four of those books have come out within the past three months! So 2013 has been a pretty big publishing year for me.
Q. Any sounds words of wisdom you can share?
A. I don’t know about wisdom, but if there’s anything I’ve learned in my publication journey so far is how varied is the path of each book that goes out into the world. There are so many variables—the publishing timeline, the publisher’s approach, the book itself and how it’s prepared and put out and received. There are so many things that can tempt a writer to stress and anxiety. But the more I do this the more I realize how many of these elements really are outside my control. And if that’s so, then what good does it do me to stress over them? All I can do is write the best book I can. Where it goes, how it is received, whether it sells or receives good reviews or gets publicity or attention or awards—that’s out of my hands. I would love for those things to happen, and I’m delighted when they do. But if not, I’ll keep on writing, keep on tending to my little garden of words. And leave the rest of the hands of fate—and my readers.
Thanks so much for stopping by and CONGRATULATIONS again!
Thanks so much, and thank YOU for having me!
Candlewick is kindly giving away one free copy of GHOST IN THE HOUSE to one of my lucky commenters. Enter below. (Must live in the US/Canada to win.)
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Loved this interview - and the timing of these ghosty books near Halloween.
I love the timing of the Universe! Happy hauntings and all.
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