BJ: Thank you for having me on your blog.
PictureBookBuzz: Welcome! Tell us about yourself.
BJ: I am a former University music librarian turned poet and author. Many years ago, before I was a writer, I was asked this question: “Which form of expression do you prefer – music, writing or art?” I replied without hesitation “writing" because I adore crafting words and sharing the beauty and wonder of poetry with children. Hobbies include singing jazz, playing African drums on the beach and learning didgeridoo. I currently live in Florida, by way of Cambridge/Boston, with my husband (also a poet) and our toy poodle, Bijoux.
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book, There Was an Old Gator Who Swallowed a Moth?
BJ: I had a lightbulb moment when I saw a baby gator riding waves in a local lake. He was so adorable, I immediately envisioned a gator character. Young Gator morphed into Old Gator and insinuated himself into a cumulative rhyme scheme. And I was off and running.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your main character.
BJ: Old Gator is larger-than-life. He behaves badly, swallowing many southern animals, then gulping a lagoon to wash them down.
PictureBookBuzz: What other books have you written?
BJ: I have poems published in 24 anthologies to date, including many children's poetry anthologies: published by Little, Brown, National Geographic, Bloomsbury, Wordsong, Otter-Barry, Pomelo Books, etc.
PictureBookBuzz: What are you currently working on?
BJ: I'm currently writing humorous picture books such as Slubby to the Rescue, about a slug who wants to be a first responder. I also write poetry picture books, both fiction and nonfiction. I recently took Koalafications: Animals with Jobs to the Rutgers One-On-One Conference. I'm also hard at work on a novel.
PictureBookBuzz: If you could give advice to an earlier version of yourself, what would you want to share?
BJ: Never give up on your writing dreams. It took me three years to get my first poem published in a children's magazine, three more years to get my first poem accepted into a children's poetry anthology and three more years get my first solo book deal. I guess the rule of threes has worked for me!
And it has been so worth it. My poetry has gone around the world! A teacher in Vietnam sent me a video of her students learning phonics with my poem, A Garden Prayer.
Another of my poems, Moored, is being engraved on a sculpture in Bannerman Park, St. John, Nova Scotia, to commemorate a young woman who died but loved sailing.
PictureBookBuzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
BJ: Thank you for asking.
My website is: childrensauthorbjlee.com.
My blog is: bluewindow.weebly.com
I also blog at: michellehbarnes.blogspot.com about poetic forms.
Connect with me on social media at @bjlee_writer on Twitter, and facebook.com/bjaylee.
You can preorder THERE WAS AN OLD GATOR WHO SWALLOWED A MOTH using the links below:
We are a group of picture book authors and illustrators whose first picture books will be released in 2019. Read about our roads to publication here.