Today we are talking to children’s book author – Tara Lazar. Tara has written some really amazing children’s books. One of her books, 7 Ate 9 (The Untold Story), has already been released and she has another book coming out June next year, Your First Day of Circus School.
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what made you want to become a children’s author?
Yesterday I was listening to a podcast about the human genome, and how many of our personality traits are embedded in our DNA, so the person you are as a child is essentially the person you are as an adult, shaped with wisdom from experience, of course.
When I was a child, I loved to write. I cannot explain it. It was coded into my DNA, I imagine. When my teacher announced it was “creative writing” time, I jumped out of my seat and yelled “hooray”! If she told us to write a hundred words, the class groaned, but I asked for more. That feeling of being excited to create never left me.
Being a children’s book author is what I always wanted to do, but I am also a pragmatic person. I wanted to be independent as a young adult, and I knew being an author would not necessarily pay the bills, so I got a good-paying job after college graduation. Then I got married, had kids, and because I had saved money, I was able to stay home to take care of them. That’s when I finally had the time and opportunity to pursue my goal of publication—about eleven years ago.
That is very wise of you to do something practical, but still hold onto your passions! So what was your favorite book growing up?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl. I still get this fluttering in my tummy when I see the cover and recall how excited I was to read that book as a child.
Please tell us about the importance of children’s literature and what it has meant to be a part of this industry?
Children’s literature fosters creativity, imagination and problem-solving skills. Plus, reading well is a solid predictor of a child’s future success. Encouraging a love of reading in young children starts them off on a successful path in life. I love being a part of that.
I was at a book festival this weekend, and a young girl saw LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD and began jumping up and down in excitement. Her mother wanted to see all the books at the festival before buying anything, so they left. Later, that same girl came running back to my table and grabbed the book with the biggest grin on her face, eyes shining. That moment is what we authors live for.
So, if someone asked you for same wisdom about being a children’s author, what would you say to them?
Keep writing new stories.
Sometimes aspiring authors revise the same story over and over without moving onto something else. Unfortunately, some stories will never sell, no matter how much you rewrite them. Getting published in picture books isn’t just about the writing—it is about your story concept, your illustrative potential, a publisher’s existing list of books, many other factors.
You will probably never sell that first story—I don’t think anyone ever has—so thank it for the things it taught you and tuck it away. I truly believe you grow and improve with each new manuscript you write. It took me dozens of attempts to finally produce something worthy of publication. Writing new work is key.
I want to talk about your latest book, 7 Ate 9 (The Untold Story), what was the inspiration behind the book? Tell us about it and where we can pick it up at?
I read a friend’s middle-grade novel, called SMALL MEDIUM AT LARGE, and marveled at how the title was a joke punch line. I tried to think of an elementary school joke whose punch line I could use for a title. Then the riddle “Why is six afraid of seven?” hit me. Because 7 ATE 9!
I imagined a frightened 6 visiting a Private “I” because he feared his days were numbered. When I sat down to write the story, the puns leapt out of me, one after another. I couldn’t stop them! My kids kept groaning, so I knew it was a winner!
Finally, our last question, and it is a very serious question – would you rather be able to fly or walk through walls?
Fly…because I’d save a lot on airfare.
Ha, still very pratical! Thank you so much, Tara for talking with us today. Be sure to check out Tara’s website and blog at https://taralazar.com/.
Thanks everyone and remember to like this site to see more interesting interviews as we continue to ask Questions to Inspire!