1) Congratulations on your success with your following thus far, Shari! Which social media avenue you do prefer to focus your efforts?
– Thank you!
– I probably use Facebook more than anything else. But I am really trying to use Twitter more.

2) Did you always want to write for children or did your son inspire you?
– My son definitely inspired me. I’ve always loved books and loved to read, but I never consciously decided that I would write a book. It came about quite by accident as I was telling my son a story one night. Each consecutive night the story grew, until the characters began talking. That’s when I said, “I better write this down!”

3) On Goodreads you mention your ideas come throughout the day when you see a drawing or picture that inspires you… has this always been your method or do you try to sit down and write a story from scratch?
– I do now sit down and write stories ‘from scratch’. I think about what children like – such as pirates and giants. And I also think about what skills children are learning to master in kindergarten, such as cutting paper, drawing people, writing their name, identifying and sorting colors and shapes, etc. Then I try to write books related to those things.

4) Your favourite fictional couple is Frog and Toad – what should new readers of this old series look forward to about their personalities and/or relationship the most?
– Frog and Toad is actually a series of books originally written and published in 1970. I read them in the 1st and 2nd grades. I thought they were funny and I enjoyed the relationship between Frog and Toad. They were best friends, but sometimes had ‘problems’ with each other that they needed to work through. They razzed each other a lot and I thought that was funny. Those books are still in print and I’ve recently seen them at my library. I love frogs, so I wrote some stories about a Granny Franny frog. They’re still works in progress.

5) Your Granny Franny series, be honest, is it based on someone you know?
– Ha! Sort of. I originally wrote the story based on this picture:

But, then, yes, I did loosely base it off my mother and just grandmothers in general!

6) What do you love most about writing for kids?
– I like to sneak in some adult humor. So that the adult reader and child are both entertained. 😉

7) Would you love it if your son becomes an author? Does he love writing now?
– Ha! After listening to me talk about books and stories for the past 3 to 4 years, he’s quite tired of it. He is now a teenager and while he enjoys writing, he doesn’t so much enjoy reading (or hearing about book stuff in general!). But when he was younger, he loved for me to read him stories at night.

8) Tell us about the best time you’ve had reading a book in public?
– I was at an elementary school getting ready to read my book, Gertrude and Toby’s Friday Adventure, to a 2nd grade class. I was telling the kids about Gertrude and Toby and how they like to sneak off the farm to go on adventures and a little boy raised his hand and asked, “Is this a movie?” I said, “Not yet.” The teacher laughed hysterically and I thought, Hey, it could happen! 😉

9) Besides yourself, who is your favourite children’s book author and/or book and why?
– Oh, that’s a hard question. Of course, I like Dr. Seuss books. All my favourite authors would be older ones, like Madeleine L’Engle. When I was in middle school, she and Judy Blume were two of my favourite authors. I don’t read as much nowadays, because I am busy writing. That’s one thing they don’t tell you: Once you start writing, you stop reading (as much). In other words, you lose one of your favourite passions, but in the process gain another.

10) Any advice for the parent of a hesitant writer and, the opposite, one who can’t stop writing?
– Keep writing and keep learning about the business of writing. And after you write your story, find a critique group. The best thing I did was join SCBWI [Society of Children’s Books Writers and Illustrators]. Writing is like any other job. The longer you do it, the more you learn and the better you become. When I started writing, I thought that my love of books and reading was all I needed to know; I thought I was well equipped. But I really didn’t know anything. There are word counts and genres and … rejection. Then once your book is written, there’s marketing; how do you let people know your book exists?

Thanks for joining us today, Shari and much success for you going forward!

Sarah Butland

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