We Skyped with author Laurel Snyder!

On Friday, October 28, 2011 I was invited to sit in on a very special event at Wentworth school. 34 fifth grade students talked with author, Laurel Snyder via Skype. We all had a really great time listening to the answers Laurel gave to our questions. She is a pretty cool person, if you ask me.

I wrote down the questions and answers, because I remember best when I write things down.

Laurel started out with explaining how she became a writer.
“When I was in fourth grade I decided I would grow up and become a writer who would be rich and famous by writing stories and plays for children. I’d buy a mansion where I’d live with all the cats and dogs I would rescue. What made me decide to become a writer was that my parents separated and got divorced when I was in third grade. Writing was a way for me to figure things out.”

She has published 4 novels [Up and Down Scratchy Mountain, Any Which Wall, Penny Dreadful, Bigger Than a Breadbox] and 4 picture books for children. 2 books of poems and a collection of essays for adults. Ms Snyder has written 100’s of other stories that, to this day, have not been published. Her favorite picture book she has written is “Inside the Slidy Diner”. Her favorite chapter book for children she has written is, “Bigger than a Breadbox.” It has 4,000 words!

“Where do you get the names for you characters?
L. Mostly, I steal them from my friends.

“How long does it take you to write a book?”
L: Six months to 3 years!

“In the story, Bigger than a Breadbox, Rebecca asks the magic breadbox for $1000. What would you do with that much money?”
L: I’d take a trip with my family. Children have to think carefully how they will spend that much money, because if they bought a bike or an iPod or a computer, your parents would find out!

“Which of your books has sold the most copies?”
L: Baxter the Pig who wants to be kosher.

“Are you going to write a sequel to Penny Dreadful?
L: I would like to write a story about Luella. It would sync up with Penny Dreadful.

“In the book Penny Dreadful, Duncan has allergies. Do you have any allergies?”
L: No. I do not suffer from any allergies, nor do my children. What I was trying to show in the story is that nowadays people can Google symptoms and you can think yourself sicker than you are. By poking fun of Duncan and his allergies, I wanted kids to see that having allergies can inhibit your life, making it difficult for you to do so many things.

“What is your favorite part of Penny Dreadful?”
L: The last scene. I love bonfire potlucks.

“Have you ever written a book you didn’t like?”
L: Oh, Lots! Those are the books not published. Sometimes you can write a story that isn’t that good. If you set it aside for awhile and then come back to it, you might like it better…or, not. By waiting, when you come back and read the story you might find a better way to tell it. For my next book I’d like to write about Lice!

“Is it a cool feeling to see your book after it is published?”
L: Yes, it is cool to see the actual book and the cover. It’s also scary. I never read my books after they’ve been published.

What is your favorite part of writing a book?
L: the beginning. You take an idea and then it becomes an outline. Sort of the same as those Choose your Own Adventure books. You keep playing with the idea, going this way and that, until the idea is just right.

“Why didn’t you let Penny find the gold?”
L: Penny wanted to save her family, and she did, just not the way she thought she would. I wanted to show that you are not always able to be in control of your life.

“What inspired you to write your next book about time traveling to 1937?”
L: The book I’m working on is a prequel to Bigger than a Breadbox. It is about Rebecca’s mom, Annie. When Annie’s mom says they must go visit Annie’s grandmother because she’s dying, Annie is surprised. She didn’t even know she had a grandmother. So, Annie falls back in time to 1937 and gets to know her grandmother when she was 12 years old.

“What were you thinking about when you started writing your book, Bigger Than a Breadbox?”
L: I was thinking about Loss and Sadness and how to go thru it. This book is autobiographical in many ways. I remember how sad and upset I was when my mother moved me away from my friends and father.

“What is the name of the book you read from?””
L: My newest book that was just published, Bigger Than a Breadbox.

“If you weren’t an author, what would you like to be?”
L: I’m also a mom. That is my other job and I like that a lot. But if I had to decide to work at something else, I’d be a teacher or a librarian. Why? Because I LOVE BOOKS! I just want to stand around and talk about books all day!

“When you wrote about Down Betty & the mint in her garden, I wondered if you also have a garden?”
L: I am a terrible gardener. Mint is an invasive plant, so I grow it and other invasive plants because then I don’t have to weed or worry about how the garden looks.

“Where do you write?”
L: I have a shed that’s been newly renovated. There is no TV or computer or WIFI in it. I have to go inside and be quiet and when I’m quiet I hear my stories.

“If you don’t have a computer, does that mean you write by hand? On paper?”
L: Yes. I write the picture books by hand and the novels with a computer. I suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I have to be careful not to overuse my hands.

Laurel said, “I love corresponding with kids. So, email me if you have any other questions or just want to talk about books.”

Visit her site at laurelsnyder.com

Books Laurel mentioned today that she hopes you’ll read.
Elizabeth Enright – Gone Away Lake
Lemony Snicket – A Series of Unfortunate Events
Betty MacDonald – Mrs Piggle Wiggle
Polly Horvath – The Canning Season
Victoria Forester – The Girl Who Could Fly
Rebecca Stead – When You Reach Me
Ellen Potter – Olivia Kidney stories and The Kneebone Boy
Anne Ursu – Breadcrumbs
Kurtis Scaletta – Mamba Point