Last year, I had the pleasure of hearing author Brenda Ferber speak about the craft of writing and the business of publishing, as well as read from her wonderful picture book, The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever. I found both the author and book to be engaging and was thrilled when Brenda agreed to be interviewed for this blog.
In addition to The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever, Brenda has written two notable middle-grade novels: Julia’s Kitchen—winner of the Sydney Taylor Book Award— and Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire.
Valentine’s Day is on the horizon, and The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever would make a perfect gift for the little sweetheart in your life. This story, reinforced by Tedd Arnold’s colorful cartoon-style illustrations, is creative, humorous and has a contemporary feel to it that will appeal to girls and boys alike. I don’t think I can improve upon this description from Kirkus Reviews: Get ready to enjoy a laugh-out-loud, fast-paced adventure involving a secret crush, a runaway valentine with an attitude and lots of candy.
Check out Brenda’s website to learn more about her and download an activity kit to accompany the book.
• What has been your route to becoming a writer of children’s books?
I always dreamed of becoming an author, but it wasn’t until I had children of my own that I decided to try to turn that dream into a reality. I began by reading a ton to see what kinds of books were being published today. Then I took a class through The Institute of Children’s Literature. I joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I formed a wonderful critique group. And I just worked and worked and worked on my craft until I had something good enough to publish. I sold a couple stories to Ladybug magazine. Then I sold two novels to FSG. And finally, I sold The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine to Dial.
• Where do you find inspiration?
Inspiration is everywhere. An overheard conversation. A funny story. A feeling. But all my stories really stem from a question that I’m pondering. For instance, Why do bad things happen to good people? (Julia’s Kitchen) Or what happens when your BFF finds a new friend? (Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire). And the doozy of them all: Is Valentine’s Day about candy, or is it about love? (The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever)
• Do you have a specific writing routine that works for you?
Not really. I try to write every day. But I pretty much never write when my kids are around, so when they are off of school, the writing takes a backseat to being a mom.
• What were your favorite books as a child? Did your children enjoy
these books, as well?
I loved everything by Judy Blume, and of course kids today (including mine) still love her. Her books are timeless. Another favorite of mine was Beat the Turtle Drum by Constance Greene. That one is not as well known, but when I find someone who knows it, it is quite often their favorite book, too.
• Are the characters in The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever based on your sons?
Yes, they most definitely are. My youngest son has been a romantic his whole life. He always said he loved Valentine’s Day because it was all about giving love, and that was his specialty. My older son shied away from hugs and kisses and I love yous. For him, the holiday was all about the candy. He thought of it as Halloween in February. I thought it was funny how they had such different opinions of the holiday, so I wrote a story inspired by them.
• Are you working on a new manuscript, and would you like to tell us about it?
I‘m working on a few things right now, but the one I’m most excited about is a coming of age story about a plain looking tween who helps her beautiful best friend win the affection of the new boy in town despite secretly having a crush on the very same boy.
• Do you have a recipe for a Valentine’s Day treat that you would like to share?
Yes. Go to the mall. Buy a box of Godiva truffles. Deliver them to me. 🙂
Brenda has generously donated an autographed copy of The Yuckiest, Stinkiest Best Valentine Ever for one of my readers. To qualify, just leave a comment below, follow my blog, follow me on twitter or like me on Facebook. Each action earns you another chance to win. The deadline is February 6 at midnight (CST).
Tagged: Best Valentine Ever, Brenda Ferber, Jemma Hartman, STinkiest, Tedd Arnold, The Yuckiest, Valentine, Valentine's Day