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Interview: Children’s Author, Pat Lowery Collins

Multi-talented author Pat Lowery Collins talks about the source of her creativity and answers questions on craft.

“Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it! For boldness has genius, power and magic in it.”  ~Goethe

Pat Lowery Collins: “Before I came across the above quotation, I somehow knew it to be true and always approached life with the belief that there’d be time for all the things I felt compelled to do. Though much of it had to wait until the last of our five children was in school, I’m grateful that I’ve been able to pursue just about all the endeavors that are still so important to me.

Today I write poetry, picture books,and young adult novels. I’m also a painter,and have illustrated my own work as well as the work of others.

For me, writing picture books was a natural outgrowth of writing poetry. Both art forms are dependent on precise,visual imagery and careful word choices. Where the two forms differ is in the fact that though my poetry for adults is usually centered on my own thoughts and feelings, my picture books and poems for children are very sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of my audience.

I began to write young adult novels because many of the main characters that presented themselves to my imagination were teenagers. Writing historical fiction for this age group is the most satisfying endeavor of all.

My stories are sometimes based on things I remember from childhood and sometimes on what I have observed in my children’s lives or my own life. I may even be inspired by something I’ve read about. Often they’re taken from many sources, some of which I’m not even aware. That’s where the muse comes in, that sprite whom a writer likes to blame for a lack of inspiration or for some mysterious input.

The Top Ten Reasons I Might Not Follow You On Twitter (and could even block you from following me)

Ever wondered why more people don’t follow you when you’ve followed them? Well, I’m not a mind-reader, but I know what turns me off…


The effort you put into your Twitter presence matters to me. It shows how seriously you take your participation and tells me whether you have any intention of developing a personal connection. To build a Twitter relationship with you I need to be able to see you (or your well-considered brand) not a cartoon version of you or an image that means nothing to me and, for all I know, means even less to you.

New York, New York

How is it possible to love a city as much as I love New York? It’s not even my home town. I only lived there for a few years, twenty years ago, yet each time I return the same rush of joy courses through me, accompanied by an overwhelming eagerness to return to all my favorite places, like revisiting old friends.

It may have a lot to do with the intensity of the few years I spent there. Not only was my son born in New York, but it was my first experience of living abroad with my young husband far from home, friends and family. It threw us together, made friendships more important, and everything had the thrill of discovery, the shine of the new. But mostly it was the thrill of discovering that New York, that bustling metropolis depicted in so many iconic movies and books, was not a myth. It was real. And I was living in it, becoming part of its never-ending story.

Last week I spent five days back in New York for the Society of Childrens Writers and Illustrators Conference, and the best part wasn’t even the conference; it was being with friends who are also writers; it was hanging out in the bar talking shop; it was meeting those who have ‘done it’, reached the top, like Libba Bray, and discovering those mythical creatures (famous editors and authors) to be personable, kind, funny, and REAL.

Why was that so reassuring?  

Wonders Will Never Cease…

As another mad National Novel Writing Month challenge comes to a close I’m particularly grateful to have any words on the page at all, never mind over 50,000 of them. Quite what possessed me to start two websites for writers, two community blogs, three Facebook fan pages and one radio channel during the month of November I’ll never know, but that’s what I did.  Little by little, the websites took more time from my writing each day until only two days remained and my NaNoWriMo word count stagnated; 14,000 words short of the 50,000 needed to ‘win’.

I could have given up. I wanted to give up.  But then I would have had that dirty, guilty sensation of knowing I could have tried harder. Ugly school memories returned to haunt me (“…could do better”). On top of that lay the guilt of being the founder of two websites aimed at helping writers finish-their-books-with-no-excuses when here I was, making excuses.

So I bought a bottle of red wine, cooked my son a tri-tip roast to remember, and delivered him back to college. No more excuses.

With the apartment now empty again (not counting two cats and one hyper hound), I sat down and had a think. I could blow it off. Everyone would understand, right?

Guest Post: Shelley Souza Interviews Steampunk Author Arthur Slade

One of my favorite books of 2009 was Arthur Slade’s THE HUNCHBACK ASSIGNMENTS, so when Shelley Souza interviewed Arthur, I asked if she’d mind sharing their conversation here to spread the word. We need more books like these. Books where the protagonist isn’t perfect. Books where his greatest gift (the ability to change his shape into any form) is also the protagonist’s greatest challenge, in this case because Modo can only hold an assumed shape for a limited time before he returns to his deformed self.

Shelley: A recent interview said that The Hunchback Assignments is inspired by Victor Hugo’s Huchbank of Notre Dame, and that the second book in this seven-part series found inspiration from Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. Was that your aim, to reinterpret classics that fit with the growing movement of steampunk in fashion, literature and art?

Arthur Slade: Originally, my intention was to take elements from these classics and use them as  leaping points for a new set of stories. I didn’t set out to write a “steampunk” novel, but as I began to explore the Victorian world I discovered that I didn’t want to be limited by “real” history or even “real” science so began to find myself pushing the boundaries of what science was able to do at that time. I wanted to make the world as real as possible, though. So Queen Victoria is queen during the book. The streets are the real streets. I just add elements that are quasi-fantastical–like a character who can change his shape. But this is a perfectly logical ability within the context of the novel because all the other characters see it as an “adaptive transformation”–or part of evolution. I guess I’m drawing from Verne and H.G. Wells who could make some of the most scientifically unsound stories appear real by explaining the “logic” of the science behind them.