Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Alison McGhee Author Interview + Giveaway

Alison McGhee Author Interview + Giveaway

Alison is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for the month of October and she has written a delightful and endearing children's book called Star Bright, A Christmas Story.  I asked her some questions about her writing life, favorite authors and the artwork in her books. Read on to find out more about Alison McGhee.

1.  Tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m tall. My favorite color is green. My favorite part of an Oreo is the top crème-less chocolate cookie. Every morning I read three poems before I do anything else. I have a dog named Petey and a cat named Hobbes. I walk fast. A fun night might include sitting at the bar for dinner and playing cards while waiting for the food to arrive.

2. What inspired you to write Star Bright, A Christmas Story?
My editor asked me if I would be interested in writing a Christmas story. I had never considered writing one before and it took me years and years to come up with the right idea. I must’ve written eighteen entirely different stories before this one finally came shimmering up.

3. You have written a variety of books in all age categories.  How do you carve time out of your day to write?  Do you have several writing projects going at the same time?

I usually am working on a novel, which is a loooooong-term affair. If I get an idea for a picture book, or am struck by lightning with an idea for some other kind of book, I’ll take time away from the novel and try to get a good draft down. But there’s always a novel simmering away in the background. I don’t really have to carve time out because writing is my work. (That’s kind of a lie, though, because even though writing is my work, I still have to force myself to sit down every day and begin.)

4.  I love the artwork in Star Bright.  Did you get to pick the illustrator or does the publisher?
How much of the artistic vision belongs to the author and how much belongs to the artist?

Peter H. Reynolds is an amazing artist, isn’t he? The elegant simplicity of his work inspires me. This is our third collaboration together. We began with Someday, moved on to Little Boy, and now here we are with Star Bright. The publisher is traditionally the one to select the illustrator but I have been very lucky and usually have input on the decision. Who has the artistic vision? I’d say that in all my picture books, it’s been a mutual collaboration between me and the artist every step of the way. I stand in awe of their artistry. It’s a delight and a surprise to see how they interpret the words.

5.  Do you like to read?  What authors or books influence you?

Love to read and always have. That’s why I became a writer. . . I never had a Plan B. In most photos of me as a kid there’s a book lying open and face-down in the background. It made me sad that I wasn’t allowed to read at the dinner table. I’m influenced by so many writers it’s impossible to pick only a few, but I will say that poetry, which I love with all my soul, is the form that most often stuns, inspires and cracks open my heart.

6.  Can you recommend one book that you believe is a must read and tell us why?

I have been sitting here for half an hour making list after list, but I cannot narrow it down to one. My apologies. I bow my head in sorrow. (FAIL) (SAD FACE)

7.  Who is your favorite Children’s book author?

Old school: I’m a huge fan of William Steig, Maurice Sendak, Judith Viorst, Bevery Cleary.
Contemporary: huge fan of M.T. Anderson, Kathi Appelt, Chris Raschka, Taeeun Yoo, Marcus Zusak. (Again I sit here with sorrowfully bowed head. . . too many to mention.)

8.  Tell us in one sentence why we should read, Star Bright, A Christmas Story.

When I began writing Star Bright I spent time each morning thinking about all the specific, personal ways that the people I love bring light into the world, and by the time I was finished writing it, the book itself seemed to be full of light and love.

Thanks Alison!

If you would like to win a copy of Star Bright please enter here:  Star Bright Giveaway