PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about yourself.
Jennifer: I’ve always been fascinated by the music of words and the images they convey. Take me to any shopping center or town square, and I make a bee-line to the nearest book shop (bonus if there’s also a café with comfy seats beside a roaring fire place!). I love wandering around libraries and playing Scrabble, too. There’s just something about the beauty of language that speaks to my spirit.
I’ve written everything from blogs and books, to radio and television ads. But my heart belongs to kid lit. When I left advertising to start a family, I decided to follow my dreams and write for children. But despite already being an accredited author, I didn’t know a thing about how to write for kids! I knew I had the “write stuff,” but what I didn’t have were professional skill sets.
So I immersed myself in kid lit writing courses. I gained a fantastic mentor and connected with other children’s authors. The more I wrote, the more my author’s confidence grew. In 2011, I sold my first story to AppleSeeds magazine and soon after, Faces magazine. My hard work and persistence has paid off, as I continue to be a regular feature contributor, having written 50+ articles and counting!
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book, LITTLE MEDUSA’S HAIR DO-LEMMA?
Jennifer: My daughter used to have really long hair, rather like a mini-Rapunzel. No matter how much I brushed it or braided it, her hair always wound up looking like a mass of tangles and squiggles. One night, I was at my wit’s end combing out knots for the umpteenth time. I clearly remember throwing my hands up in the air and calling her a Little Medusa. Thank goodness I never found a snake slithering in her hair!
By the way, I was not a snake-lover prior to writing this story. I doubt I’ll ever have a pet snake, but I’m now a big admirer of them. They play such a vital role in nature. And they certainly don’t scare me anymore!
PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about your main character.
Jennifer: Little Medusa is based on the Ancient Greek myth of the infamous Gorgon, Medusa. In the myths, Medusa was originally a beautiful young lady, who incurred the wrath of the Goddess Athena. Apparently both Medusa and Athena liked the Sea God, Poseidon, and in a jealous rage, Athena cursed Medusa with serpentine hair. To make it worse, if Medusa looked at anyone, that person immediately turned to stone. Lonely and bitter, Medusa changed into the notorious villain we all know today.
But unlike the original Medusa, my Little Medusa is not a villain. In fact, she is quite the opposite. She doesn’t want to have snakes wriggling in her hair and more importantly, she definitely doesn’t want to scare anything into stone!
PictureBookBuzz: What do you think readers will find most appealing about your book?
Jennifer: Like many children (and adults), Little Medusa is torn between pleasing herself and following family tradition. I think we can all relate to the fact that some familial customs don’t always change with the times, especially when they ought to change. I also hope that young readers will begin to take an interest in the ancient myths.
PictureBookBuzz: What are you currently working on?
Jennifer: I have several other picture book stories in development and an early-reader chapter book. When I’m not working on these stories, I’m knee-deep in research for my next feature article. I love learning about other countries, customs and especially, cuisines!
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?
Jennifer: You can’t revise what’s not on paper, so write the idea down, outline that premise, and throw everything into that cruddy first draft! Editing will come later; you’ll know when you have a diamond in the rough. And remember, this business is so subjective. It’s not only about writing (or illustrating) the best story you can, it’s also about getting it in front of the right people at the right time. Most of all, be kind to yourself.
PictureBookBuzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Website: Launching early February 2019
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.