Vijaya Bodach interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Feb 6, 2018 11:15:44 PM

Vijaya Bodach interview with David Alan Binder

Abbreviated bio: I fell in love with science, particularly biology, chemistry and physics. It satisfied my curiosity about the natural world. Best of all, I got to ask questions and not be punished for it.

I earned a B.Sc. in Microbiology and a Ph.D. in Biochemistry/Biophysics from Washington State University for investigating esoteric things like protein export in bacteria and the role of chaperone molecules. I did my postdoctoral work on plant defense mechanisms at the Max Planck Institute in Cologne, Germany and at Purdue University in Indiana.

Now, nearly two decades later, over sixty stories, articles and poems of mine have been published in leading children's magazines and over fifty science books for budding physicists, botanists, and mathematicians. I even branched out into history. But that's the best part about being a writer--following your muse. I strive to bring clarity and enjoyment in all my writing and now am diving into the world of novel-writing.

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

Vee-jay-yah Bo-dack

2. Where are you currently living (at least the state or if outside US then Country)?

Charleston, SC

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

I’ve been writing since I was pregnant with my second baby, so that’s more than 16 years! I’ve learned that there are seasons to this writing thing—and to go with the flow. Keep writing through the good days and bad, through sickness and good health—uh-oh—this is beginning to sound like a marriage vow but if writing is what you love to do, be devoted to it as you would your spouse. Make writing dates J

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

Quirk? Hmmm. I’d say writing long-hand with my Mont Blanc pen of over 30 years J The lavender is my favorite ink color, but I’m also partial to royal blue. And one year I had my poem, First Grade Friends, displayed on 65 buses in King County, WA

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

All my books are traditionally published but I am grateful that self-publishing is viable option too. I think the biggest hurdle to being successful at self-publishing is discoverability. So for an introvert, the traditional publishing option is probably the best. Of course, there’s the work involved in finding the right publisher for your book. Be persistent and don’t give up.

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

I’ve worked with many publishers—Scholastic, Capstone, Highlights—most of them are located on the East Coast but a few are in the Midwest and I’ve also had the opportunity to work with a couple of Korean publishers.

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

I think the traditionally bound book is here to stay. All you need to do is crack open the spine to read. You don’t need a device. That said, audio and e-books and movies reach many people who wouldn’t open a book. So I’m happy about all the developments in media that bring good stories to people.

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

Nope. No secrets. The first thing is to write the book! Read. Study. Take classes. Find or make a critique group. But always keep writing. And of course, send your work out with a prayer.

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

I don’t have an agent. The conventional way to find a suitable agent is to first find who might be a good match (there are books and web-sites devoted to this), send our queries, and hope for the best. I don’t recommend that new writers try to find an agent. That’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s better to focus your energy on writing the best book first.

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

I do indeed. I used to teach the magazine course at the Institute of Children’s Literature and I still mentor many writers and over and over the biggest problem I see with beginning writers is that they don’t make the time for it. Make writing a habit. Write for 15 minutes a day, if that’s all you can carve out of your busy life. The other thing is to learn to say, “No!” to what is not for you. This gives you the freedom to say, “Yes!” to what matters to you.

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

I was surprised that it doesn’t get easier. Every story I try to write has something new to teach me. I know I will be writing for the rest of my days.

11. How many books have you written?

Around 60 or so. Most are for the school and library market. Even my first trade book, TEN EASTER EGGS, has an educational component.

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)?

Yes. Study other books. If you love a particular book, take it apart and see how it was put together. Write out a chapter summary, a scene summary. Note how the book is structured. If you are a children’s writer and love picture books, type out the text and note how spare and economical it can be, how the text and pictures complement one another. Write out poems to get the feel of them in your hand. It will also help you remember them better. Also, read your work aloud. Better yet, have someone else read your work aloud cold (without prior reading). Note where he or she stumbles. Also do not defend your work when it is being critiqued. Listen. Take notes.

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

Think outside the box. We know how children are scared of the dark and monsters. What if the monster is scared of the child? Stand the typical on its head. Play What If?

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

Counting books abound. My book, TEN EASTER EGGS, is one of the few books on the market that teaches the concept of combinations of ten in such a fun way that kids don’t even know they are learning them. Children count down as the eggs hatch one by one and count up as the chicks appear. It’s also very tactile—plastic egg, flocked chicks— which helps children remember. The darling illustrations by Laura Logan enhance the rhyming text.

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

Being an introvert, I don’t really promote my work. Luckily, my publishers get my work into the schools and libraries and teachers come to know of it organically. I like to give writing and science workshops in schools. I also give workshops at writers’ conferences and have been a moderator on the SCBWI message boards for many years. Interviews like this introduces new readers to my work. I also maintain a website/blog where I enjoy sharing my thoughts about books, writing, family, pets, religion, politics, music, etc. I invite you to visit and browse and learn more at

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

Haha! Good thing you limit the response to writing! No regrets. I’m very happy at the way this writing life began and matured with family life. It brought me back to Jesus, for which I am immensely grateful.

17. What saying or mantra do you live by?


No matter what has gone before, this moment is new.

I also keep a treasury of favorite quotes here:

18. Anything else you would like to say?

Thank you!