Barbara Joosse interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 22, 2016, 6:17 AM by David Alan Binder   [ updated May 16, 2016, 6:26 AM ]

Barbara Joosse interview with David Alan Binder


Her bio from Good Reads: Barbara Joosse has written many books for children. Among them are Mama, Do You Love Me?, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee; and I Love You the Purplest, illustrated by Mary Whyte. She says, "When I was a little girl, I wished for two things — a best friend, and something so ferocious it would scare away the monsters under my bed. And so I have written Lovabye Dragon. I think maybe it’s for little me." Barbara Josse lives in Wisconsin.






Good Reads:




1.     How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)? 

JOE-see.  Everybody says Juicy, which is wrong, but a super great pronunciation if I become a romance writer.  I’m saving it for later.


2.     Where are you currently living?  Cedarburg, Wisconsin—a little stone house beside a wide creek.



3.     What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far? 

Oh, man, can I really only say one?  If I must, then it’s “Find the essence.”  Sometimes it takes a while, and a lot of outside-the-box thinking to tell it right, but when you as an author understand the essence, and then everything falls into place.  Sometimes it takes a while to find it though.



4.     What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

“Musicality.”  Playful, offbeat rhymes and rhythms, like jazz.  Not sleepy hard-rhymey stuff, but quirky.  It wakes up the ear and let’s the heart listen.  Little kids are hard-wired to listen.  It’s the language of children.


5.     Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher? 

I don’t see any strength in self-publishing.  You wear too many hats—writer, businesswoman, editor, distributer, marketer, schlepper, accountant, even stock boy!  When you try to do too many things, none are done very well.


a.     Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

I’ve published fifty books with many publishers, most in NYC.



6.     Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

It all boils down to “story.”  How you tell a story is immaterial.  Just tell it well.  But consider the medium.  If destined to be an eBook, then write to that medium’s strength.


7.     Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published? 

Write “rejection” into your business plan.  Expect rejections; don’t be crushed when you get them.  Rejection is on your way to success.



8.     How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent?  Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I was well published before I sought out an agent.  I had one good match, but we grew apart.  Now a better match for where I am now. 


9.     Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

Read and write and edit—A LOT.  Never send out your single manuscript.  Accumulate 10 or more before you start submitting.  Never risk having all your manuscripts returned at one time—it’s too devastating to your ego.  Go to SCBWI regional workshops and submit your manuscript for review.


10.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

A good writer gathers a toolbox full of tools that can be used in any endeavor.  Once I gained my writing chops in children’s books, I’ve used in columns, lyrics and now, a musical!!


11.                        How many books have you written?  Nearly 50.



12.                        Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)? 

Read to kids regularly.  Play a word count game: count the words in your picture book manuscript, and then set a goal of reducing by 50 or 100.  You’d be surprised with what you can live without.  If it truly pains you to cut, put it back. 



13.                        Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story? 

If you approach your manuscript in a playful way, having a variety of turns and endings is easy.  Choose between them.  For example, in the story I’m working on, I was aware of the point in which it was strong, and then questionable.  I rewrote the thing with seven variations.  Somewhere after the second or third, I became more inventive.  Our brains don’t like to write the same thing—we get bored.  So let that restless nature spit out something surprising.


14.                        What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?  




15.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?  

Working on a musical that sews together four separate books—hopefully tours the country: Lovabye Dragon.



16.                         What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why? 

I had a huge best seller many years ago.  There was a lot of pressure to write the sequel.  I resisted, worried that I’d be painted into a corner and my many voices would be turned into one.  By the time I did the sequel, the demand was down.




17.                        What would you like carved onto your tombstone?  Or what saying or mantra do you live by?

I love epitaphs.  I’d have this carved into the stone: She had a lot to say.  Then a scroll that went on and on forever.



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