PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about yourself.
Danielle: After 35 years of trying, I’m finally an author with not one, but two books coming out in 2019! I’ve lived in California now most of my life, but I was born in Yonkers, New York. I was not read to as a child, (sniff, sniff) but when I first discovered picture books - around age 17, I couldn’t believe their magic, their beauty and influence on little minds! I knew then I wanted to create children’s books. I went on to get my B.A. in English and a Masters in Psychology so I could write books to help children feel empowered, worthy and capable. I came from a divorced home, with little communication, so I didn’t feel very empowered. I feel privileged now to be able to share my passion about self-empowerment with kids. I also teach English and Junior Public Speaking, grades 4-6.
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book?
Danielle: You Are Your Strong was inspired by a movie called ROOM. In it, 5 year old Jack (played by the fabulous Jacob Tremblay) talked about his long hair being his strong . It gave him strength and a certain confidence during a very hard time in his life. (He and his mother were locked up in a room by a psychopath). I watched this film as I was going through a difficult time in my own life and a good friend asked me one day, “how do you stay so strong?” This got me thinking. My strength was being able to control my emotions and stay focused on being positive and doing what was best for me, regardless of my external circumstances. I realized there are things we can do to keep us strong, so I wrote a book that will hopefully 1) Give kids simple tools to help manage their big emotions and 2) remind children that they have everything inside them to deal with life and that they, and everyone is powerful.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your main character.
Danielle: My characters are a diverse group of children. I didn’t want to focus on only one gender or one ethnic group. This book is for everyone.
PictureBookBuzz: What other books have you written?
Danielle: I have written another book called Fantastic You! which encourages children to see themselves as someone to have a relationship with. I know that sounds a bit odd, but we need to see ourselves as separate entities that we should nurture and practice self-love and self-compassion with. Fantastic You! celebrates the fact that we are with ourselves our whole lives and we need to treat ourselves as if we are our own best friends.
PictureBookBuzz: What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?
Danielle: I think readers will like the gold drenched cover – which is ironic because I think that knowing how to remain calm and balanced when we feel out of control is truly our gold. Striving for peace and understanding within ourselves will ultimately spill over into our lives. This will, inevitably, contribute to a more peaceful world. Inside the book, the illustrations are colorful, warm and inviting.
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your illustrations and how you were involved with them if you were part of the process.
Danielle: I was so happy to be involved with the illustration process. There were a few times I had to gently suggest a modification and they agreed. I saved the really important ones and let a few minor things go so that the major issues were resolved. It was a wonderful collaboration.
PictureBookBuzz: Was there one moment in the revision process that changed your manuscript? Was it a critique partner, an agent, an editor that made you know you were on the right track?
Danielle: I have to say I am so blessed with two amazing critique groups that helped me shape this manuscript into being submission ready. Each and every one of my critique partners offers something unique based on their particular strengths and perspectives. I just applied all their suggestions I resonated with and simplified and revised and revised and…Ta-Da! My manuscript sold!
PictureBookBuzz: What are you currently working on?
Danielle: I am working on a “I Love You” kind of manuscript. The market’s inundated and it’s a pretty simple concept so it may not sell, but I’m focusing on that one for now. I do, however, have a couple of other manuscripts out on submission – one about how we’re all related and one about resilience.
PictureBookBuzz: If you could give advice to writers who haven’t published yet, or an earlier version of yourself, what would you want to share?
Danielle: My advice is: if you want this bad enough quitting is not an option so don’t waste your time entertaining that thought for very long or it’ll really bring you down. Just keep writing and revising. Keep reading. Keep taking classes and seminars to hone your craft – keep praying and keep visualizing your success. You really do kind of have to be obsessed in order for it to happen because it’s not easy! (Duh).
PictureBookBuzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website: danielledufayetbooks.com
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.