19 June 2014
TAP TAP BOOM BOOM by Elizabeth Bluemle - GIVEAWAY!
Today I'm thrilled to have Elizabeth Bluemle visiting. She is the author of TAP TAP BOOM BOOM and the owner of the Flying Pig Bookstore in Vermont. We've also long kidded that she is my message board doppleganger. For some reason, whenever she and I are on the same message board, people confuse Bluemle and Dulemba and think we are the same person. It happened so often it became a long-running joke. Well, Elizabeth is indeed her own person and a wonderfully talented picture book writer. I'm thrilled to help her celebrate her latest achievement...
Q. Elizabeth! I LOVE this book!!! It's definitely an urban story. But you're from Vermont? How did the idea of getting out of a storm in the subway come to you?
A. I'm so glad you love the book, Elizabeth! I lived in New York City for many years before moving to Vermont, and wrote this book on a trip back to Manhattan, when I got stuck on a subway platform during a downpour on my way into town. I saw so many great exchanges between New Yorkers during that half hour. All of the vignettes in Tap Tap Boom Boom actually happened: the big guy with the tiny yellow umbrella, the fancy girl who dashed out into the pouring rain, the lady handing off her umbrella without a word to a student heading up the stairs. I was so amused and touched by the wonderful way people in cities befriend one another in these small moments, I had to write the book. Those moments of kind connection between strangers are one of the things I miss about life in New York, although it happens in different ways in Vermont, too.
Q. I so badly want to hear you read this story aloud with your own rhythm and style. I imagine with different readers it would sound differently (each stressing different words). Have you experienced that?
A. YES! I definitely have my own internal rhythm, and it's a very jazzy, dancy kind of thing that doesn't always translate instantly to other people. Since picture books are meant to be read aloud, I always make it a point during the revision process to have people do "cold" readings of my manuscripts in progress, to see where they stumble, where my internal rhythm isn't communicating itself on the page. And then I try to address those places. Different stories call up different rhythms, though; the manuscript I'm working on now has a much more regular rhythm than Tap Tap Boom Boom, which needed to follow the pacing of a building and diminishing storm.
Q. I love the illustrations by G. Brian Karas - he captured the mood perfectly. Did you squeee when you saw them for the first time?
A. G. Brian Karas did such a beautiful job capturing the palette of the city and the colors of a storm, as well as populating the book with the most delightful cast of irrepressible little people! Yes, I was absolutely delighted when I saw the first round of artwork. It's magical to me how you illustrators bring words to life, and so often in ways I would never even think of. I've been very, very lucky with all of my illustrators; I have Candlewick to thank for those perfect matches.
Q. You love to write with alliteration. (I'm thinking of HOW DO YOU WOKKA-WOKKA?) Where does that come from?
A. Hmm. I haven't thought about my alliteration as much as I do about cadence and rhyme and near-rhyme. But I love wordplay and lively language, and I suspect any alliteration in my writing has to do with fun. I'm also a big fan of assonance. I keep waiting for someone to tell me they like my assonance....
Q. As a children's bookseller, you read tons of children's books and read them to kids as well. How has this influenced your writing?
A. I think all of that reading has had many effects on me as a writer. My bar is high; I have read so many gorgeous books, memorable books, funny and haunting and sparkling books for children that I have the deepest respect for the craft -- not to mention a LOT of humility. There are geniuses out there whose work just lights up the universe, and I marvel at that work. So I am always striving to live up to what children deserve in a book. That can be as intimidating as it is inspiring, of course. I do think this perspective allows me to throw out manuscripts of mine that I like quite a bit but are, at the end of the day, not quite there.
Q. I'd love to hear about your writing process - do your stories come easily to you or are they a ton of hard work?
A. The stories themselves tend to come on me in a burst. Sometimes in two or three bursts. And then I spend more time than I care to think about tinkering and tweaking and reworking that piece. Once in a while I have to "break the spine" (Kate DiCamillo's phrase) of my manuscript and completely restructure it to get it right. Most often, though, it's a matter of cutting bloat and adding texture, shaping the pacing, and looking hard, many many many times, at each word in its place. My editor--the fabulous Joan Powers, who has worked with me on all four of my books--would tell you she pretty much has to pry my manuscripts out of my hands to send them to press.
Q. CONGRATULATIONS on a wonderful, sweet book perfect for sharing!
A. Thank YOU so much for inviting me to your blog, Elizabeth! Thanks for all you do to promote children's books, authors, and illustrators. It's such a generous use of your time.
Candlewick has generously agreed to give a free copy of TAP TAP BOOM BOOM to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US/Canada to win. Enter below!
TAP TAP BOOM BOOM. Text copyright © 2014 by Elizabeth Bluemle. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by G. Brian Karas. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.