Saturday, February 4, 2012

High Five Interview #13: Julie Fulton Talks About a "Greedy" Picture Book

MrsMac coverToday, I have with me Julie Fulton, author of Mrs. MacCready Was Ever So Greedy. Heres a big HIGH FIVE congratulations to you!

Title:  Mrs MacCready Was Ever So Greedy
Author:  Julie Fulton
Illustrator:  Jona Jung
Publisher:  Maverick Books
Release Date:  May 2011
Word count:  364

Summary:  A humorous story written in limerick-like rhyme. In the small town of Hamilton Shady there is rather a large problem: Mrs MacCready won’t stop eating. The silliness of the situations carry an underlying message in a very funny way.
"Mrs MacCready is ever so greedy.Her neighbours do what they can,       But she gets bigger and bigger       Till nothing will fit her.Then everything ends with a bang."

Question ONE: What are five of your favorite picture books? Just five mind you…

Just five? I’ll try!

I could pick any of Julia Donaldson’s rhyming stories. The way she handles the rhythm and rhyme is amazing, but my all time favourite has to be Room on the Broom.  We have all the recognised elements of a good picture book - repetition, pace, structure, focused theme and an important life lesson. Most of all, it’s a great story that captivates children!

My next two come from my own childhood.  P. D. Eastman’s  Are You My Mother? and One Fish, Two Fish by Dr. Seuss. I love all his nonsense verse, which is probably why Mrs. MacCready sprang into my head one day!

Fourth, I’ll settle on The Diary of a Wombat by Jackie French. This works on so many levels and could be for adults or children.  It nearly ended up in my husband’s Christmas stocking! As an ex-teacher I can see so much in it that could be used in the classroom, but it’s such a joyous, simple read too.

Finally I would have to choose Not Now, Bernard by David McKee. So few words, so much content. A real cautionary tale that shows no topic need be taboo for children - it’s all about how you handle the material.

Room on the Broom is definitely a fun one! That’s one that begs to be memorized just for the sake of FUN-ness!

Question TWO:  How often did you read to your children when they were younger?

Perhaps surprisingly, for a children’s author, I don’t have any children of my own. I think the reason I’m drawn to writing for younger age groups and enjoy it so much is because I’ve never really grown up myself!
I do remember my mother reading to me at bedtime - Lear, A. A. Milne, Dr. Seuss, and the like - which has obviously left a huge impression. My father also used to make up stories for me at night time. Is that where my desire to create stems from? I know those moments spent together were very special and, although other childhood events have faded from memory, these remain strongly imprinted.

I was wondering how that question might be answered be someone who doesn’t have children of their own. Your answer was delightful and insightful. Lucky for you, you have children all over the world!

Question THREE: How might teachers use your book in the classroom?

Mrs. MacCready eats and eats and eats. It’s a modern day cautionary tale I suppose, though that didn’t cross my mind when I was writing it. It just appeared as a silly rhyme on the page!

I’ve been in several schools and worked with different age groups. The most obvious theme is food and eating well. It fits in to topics on health and well being for younger pupils.

I’ve also used it as a starting point for rhyme and poetry. The verses are similar to a limerick, which children always love to try and create for themselves.

I can imagine a classroom full of children writing healthy food limericks. What fun!

Question FOUR:  What was your road to publication like?
a)   How many revisions did your manuscript undergo, if you kept count? A couple of words and phrases had to be changed, but otherwise the manuscript is pretty much as it was when I first wrote it down!
b)   What kind of illustrator notes did you use, if any? None! I had no idea about picture books when I submitted and honestly thought I’d really written a children’s poem. My writing class tutor and fellow members were the ones who said I should send it off to publishers because they saw it as a picture book.  I was lucky in that I had a free say in what I did and didn’t like about the illustrations once we got the first sketches. There was hardly anything I thought should change though. Jona did a fantastic job of bringing Mrs. M to life!
c)   Do you have an agent? No. I am beginning to look now, as I have a middle grade manuscript almost ready for submission. Maverick is a fantastic publisher to work with and they have asked me for a mini-series about different characters who live in the town of Hamilton Shady.
d)   How many publishers/agents did you submit to before getting an acceptance letter? Maverick was only the second publisher I tried. I could not believe it when they contacted to say they wanted to meet me! It all happened so quickly, it was surreal. It wasn’t until I spotted my book on the local library shelves that I really accepted the copies on the bookstore shelves were official and hadn’t just been planted there!

Sounds like it was pretty smooth-sailing for you. Unfortunately, not all of us will be that lucky. Good luck finding an agent!

Question FIVE: What are some writing tips you can offer to writers seeking publication?

Never give up!

Know your market. Be certain who you are writing for and what age group. Go to your library and read as many of the books that match your style and genre as possible. Talk to the librarian. They know what’s popular and what’s already been done.

Join a writing group. Feedback from like-minded peers is invaluable. See if there are any critique groups near you. The best thing I did was join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. The support, feedback and information you receive is limitless!

Research! There are books out there that can help you hone your craft. For picture books I’ve found Ann Whitford Paul’s Writing Picture Books very useful. Look through the Children’s Writers and Artists Yearbook to see which agents/publishers are open to submissions and how you should be submitting to them. Attend workshops given by editors/ agents - making that contact is a start. The SCBWI hosts regular events.

And finally, take that chance.  I saw a tiny paragraph in The Writers’ Forum magazine about a picture book publisher called Maverick Books who were actively looking for new authors. I summoned up the courage to send a couple of texts off - and now Mrs. MacCready is being read by children all over the globe!

Congratations again, Julie! Thanks so much for taking the time to be with us today. It was a pleasure to hear your story. Anyone have any additional questions for our guest today? Leave a comment… 


Interested in reading more interviews with debut picture book authors? Just visit my HIGH FIVE page. Keep on keepin' on...

5 comments:

  1. I can't wait to read your book - I'm quite partial to rhyme. Thank you for sharing the tale of your path to publication.

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  2. I love silly stories, I can't wait to read it either. Great interview ladies!

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  3. Great job! And what a refreshing interview where the author had a bit of smooth sailing. Congratulations Julie and thank you for the great interview, Christie.

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  4. Yay Julie! Can't wait to read this book, and your publication story is beyond inspiring and hopeful!

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  5. Really enjoyed the interview, Julie, and I agree completely about joining SCBWI. It's my number one tip, too (as is Ann Whitford Paul's Writing for Children). My children still really enjoy Mrs MacCready!

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