Today’s guest is Suzanne Buckingham Slade, author of over 70 books for children. Her works include picture books, biographies, and titles about animals, sports, and nature. Upcoming titles include What's the Difference? (Sylvan Dell Publishing, Spring 2010), Climbing Lincoln's Steps (Albert Whitman, Fall 2010), The House That George Built (Charlesbridge, 2011), and Multiply on the Fly (Sylvan Dell, 2011).
To learn more about Suzanne and her books, visit her web site at http://www.suzanneslade.com/ .
Welcome to It Happened in Chicago, Suzanne!
Q: Please tell us a little about your ties to Chicago.
SUZANNE: I was born in Park Forest and moved around quite a bit in the years that followed, but have been living in a northern suburb, Libertyville, for 14 years now.
Q: When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer?
SUZANNE: As is the case with many children's writers, I decided I wanted to write children's books while reading stacks of picture books to my children when they were young.
Q: Can you name someone whose encouragement made a significant difference as you developed into a writer?
SUZANNE: I've received encouragement (and lots of help) from many writing friends--Jeff, Tina, Kellie, Barb, Lorijo, Lori, Hal, Laura, Shawn, and lots more, but the one name that stands out for me, especially in the early years, is Mary Dunn. She was the instructor of my first writing class and then welcomed me into her critique group. She patiently helped me improve my writing year after year after year. Mary is a good friend who always has a kind word of encouragement for every writer she meets.
Q: I understand that you worked in the engineering field several years before starting your writing career. What caused you to change professions?
SUZANNE: Basically, I had my midlife crisis a bit early when I turned 30. I enjoyed engineering, but I really wanted to do something more creative. Shortly after my children were born in 1993 and 1994 I decided writing was for me and never looked back (even after eight solid years of rejection letters!)
Q: You have a series of “Chain Reaction” books coming out in 2011. Can you tell us a little about those?
SUZANNE: It's funny you ask about those books because of all the non-fiction titles I've written, they were the most challenging. But they challenged me in a good way, causing me to really dig into my research and contact many experts to make sure my information
was correct. These four books take a look at four different ecosystems and how the loss of one animal might affect the other living things around them. What's exciting about these titles is that they were written in "storybook" form, rather than traditional non-fiction text, and have wonderful illustrations. I especially enjoy writing projects which give me the opportunity to share a story which can change the way children think about, and take care of, our world. This seems to be a recurrent theme in many of my book titles lately, as my latest picture book, What's the Difference? releases from Sylvan Dell next month. It's an encouraging story about how people can make a huge difference in helping endangered animals.
Q. What type of books do you read for pleasure?
SUZANNE: You'll find me either reading picture books, or poring through big non-fiction titles as I do research for my latest picture book idea.
Q. What would you like us to know about your current work/s in progress?
SUZANNE: I have a picture book coming out this fall with Albert Whitman, Climbing Lincoln's Steps, which I'm very enthused about. This title shares how the actions of several brave individuals led to significant changes in the past, and it also encourages children to take their own steps of change to help improve our future. I was especially pleased when Albert Whitman selected the perfect illustrator, Colin Bootman, for this title. He's won more illustration awards than I can remember, and his sketches for this title are outstanding!
Q: Anything else you'd like to share?
SUZANNE: I've been doing something new with school visits--virtual author visits. I'm not very tech-savvy but these visits have been very easy to set up. As a result, I've really enjoyed meeting students around the country and answering their questions--all from the comfort of my office. My dog, Corduroy, has been a big hit with kids too!