PictureBookBuzz: Tell us about yourself.
PJ: I’m a proud mom of three and exhausted grandmother of four. I love baking, I love writing, and I most certainly love vanilla ice cream to an exorbitant degree. Family lore has it that I was able to read before I could talk. I grew up on Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, Trixie Belden, Star Trek, One Step Beyond, The Beatles, and The Monkees. I’m a mutt: French, British, Irish. My maternal grandfather was the son of a Baron and grew up in a castle. I’m told that I’m distantly related to the great French feminist and writer Simone De Beauvoir. I’m a Capricorn: long suffering, patient, and loyal to a fault. In another life I was either a great baker of Europe or the love child of Charles Dickens and Charlotte Bronte.
PictureBookBuzz: What inspired your book, Little Lena and the Big Table?
PJ: My childhood in Long Island. As a kid, I was stuck at the dreaded kid’s table for special occasions. I hated it. My brother was at that sibling stage where he considered me an embarrassment and didn’t want to have anything to do with me; he’d hit me under the table and generally make my life miserable. Like all stages, that eventually passed, and we became close again as adults. My brother passed away years ago, and I miss him dearly, but if he were here, I’d think he’d get a kick out of Little Lena.
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?
PJ: Little Lena always held a special place in my heart, but I couldn’t find a home for it until I submitted it on a leap of faith to Maria Ashworth at Big Belly Book. We went back and forth on emails tweaking the text until we came up with the perfect twist. It was a great process.
PictureBookBuzz: What are you currently working on?
PJ: I could write picture books all day long, but I need to challenge myself. Currently I’m juggling a magical young adult reimagining of The Prince and the Pauper, and a contemporary middle grade about a young tween with a big secret, so secret even she doesn’t know it. And there’s always a couple of other projects that are brewing. My to do list is pretty long.
PictureBookBuzz: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
PJ: Thank you for asking. I’m very active on social media and I just revamped my personal website.