When Laurel Snyder told me she'd be on tour, I just had to jump on board. She's a wonderful blogger, a fantastic writer, and she has a new Middle Grade novel that sounds just up my alley. So in honor of Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains and of Laurel Snyder, please welcome her here at Big A little a.
Kelly: Laurel--You've written many books--nearly all for different age groups. For which age group do you like to write most and why?
Laurel: Hmmm. For me, writing begins with language-- with a line or a bit of dialogue or even a single word. Figuring out what form the project wants to take can be a matter of trial and error. I made several false starts, for instance, at poems (for grownups) before turning the phrase "greasy spoon of stuck" into a picture book called Inside The Slidy Diner. So the age I want to write for, on a given day, is a matter of what's working that day.
Kelly: Beer, wine, or a soft drink?
Laurel: Oh, all three please! And a whiskey back if you'll join me. Most often, weather dictates. Red wine on a cold night. Wheat beer on a hot summer day, or limeade!
Kelly: If you had the chance, would you travel to space?
Laurel: As long as you come too. I'm not good with isolation. I'm an ENFP.
Kelly: Oh, man, I'm an INTJ/INTF. And, I'm scared of space. Terrified, to be honest. Will you be okay if I sit in my living room and cheer you on?
Here's another question: Beach, city, or forest?
Laurel: Oh, the beach. I love most kinds of places, the way I like most adult beverages. NYC in a snowstorm. The Tennessee Mountains on a fall day. But I grew up in MD, near the Atlantic. Nothing else will ever feel quite right to me. I miss seagulls.
Kelly: Why do you think you're now focusing on writing for children?
Laurel:Well, I'm sure that part of it is that I have my own kids. But really, I've always read children's books, and re-read them. I just love them, and think that most of the books that touch people deeply are books they find when they're young. I feel insanely lucky to get to be a part of that. I'm still writing poetry, but adult prose feels a lot less important now that I'm writing for kids.
Kelly: Coffee, tea, or a triple skinny latte?
Laurel: Coffee! Good dark roast brewed thick and chewy, but just plain old regular drip. It feels like there's something broken in the world when my coffee costs more than my lunch. Tea is for winter afternoons.
Kelly: You're a popular blog reader and writer—one who participates in the kidlitosphere actively. How did you get started blogging and why?
Laurel: Hmmm. I actually started blogging back in 1999, using Dreamweaver, so that the posts accumulated backwards. As a result, my original site, lonelysongs.com was a MESS. But the worst part of it is that my original blog was a chronicle of one very depressed year when I moved to New York City, not to mention a diary of the men I had loved and/or dated in my life. People ate it up, but I'm very very very glad it disappeared into the aether. I didn't really understand what the web was, how public it was. Lesson learned (for the most part) the hard way.
Kelly: I have to say that your first blog sounds fabulous, Laurel. I'm sorry I missed it! Okay, on to another question: Movie, Theater, or a Concert?
Laurel: Concert, of the acoustic variety. Something alt-country or folky. I love twang. Ideally, outdoors on a sunny day. With a fiddle or banjo. I really learned to love music in Iowa, where the music feels very American.
Kelly: Ooh, Iowa. Over the years, I've become a fan. Better to love where you live, no? Okay, here's another question: If you had an entire week and unlimited resources to do whatever you'd like, what would you do and why?
Laurel: Hmm. That's a tricky one. For myself, all alone, I'd take a week in Jerusalem. Stay at a nice hotel, but putter in dark corners. With the whole family, I'd rent a cottage in Ireland, near Doolin, with a private chef and a nanny. Just let the kids roam and run while I sat and listened to music. I'm not ready to take the kids to the Middle East just yet.
Kelly: I hear you, Laurel. I have that struggle too--only with Russia. Okay, here's another question: Halloween, New Year's, or Valentine's Day?
Laurel: Halloween! I love dressing up! Though I love it a lot less now that they move it to a weekend night and make everyone trick or treat at the mall at, like, 4 pm. What's that all about? Halloween is for letting kids do insane things in the dark on a school night, obviously.
Kelly: Tell us a little about your newest book Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains.
Laurel: It's a very old fashioned kind of book, a fairy tale about a snippy milkmaid named Lucy, and a clumsy prince named Wynston. When Wynston is forced to begin searching for a "suitable" princess to marry, Lucy runs away, and they both have some silly adventures in the mountains. And eventually they learn a few lessons--about bad government, honesty, and how to bend the rules. There's a lot of little songs in the book, and some incredible art by Greg Call.
Kelly: Yeah, the art is gorgeous! Here's another question--Conversational sin: politics, religion, or music?
Laurel: People tend to be most boring when they talk about music, and unnecessary boredom I cannot forgive. Politics and religion are fine, and best when mixed together (for the purposes of a real battle). Bring on the bluster!
Kelly: Now, tell us about your writing day: How, where, and when do you write?
Laurel: LOL! Never, lately.
I just finished 90 days without a babysitter. Not a single hour! So I write in bits and snippets, in weird places, and stolen moments. Once life settles down, and I have some regular childcare lined up, I'll write again in the morning, with coffee, silence, and my internet turned off. Totally dull and predictable, but right now it sounds the height of luxury. I dream about a traditional workday. Is that awful?
Kelly: No, not awful. It's a dream come true!
Thanks, Laurel, for stopping by Big A little a today. It was a pleasure to talk with you.