AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Laura Renauld
Today I’m excited to welcome U.S. author Laura Renauld (whom I connected to through the 2018 debut author’s group Fireworks and Foliage), to my blog.
Here’s what Laura had to say about how the book came to be, her creative processes, best tips for other writers, and more…
Hi Laura, welcome! Can you tell us a bit about your book, and the themes/issues it explore?
Porcupine can't wait to share Fall Feast with her woodland friends, so when everyone she greets is unable to bake their specialty due to a missing ingredient, Porcupine generously offers staples from her pantry. When Porcupine discovers that she, too, is missing a key ingredient, the friends all work together to create a new Fall Feast tradition. Generosity, friendship, and community are key themes in my story.
What was the inspiration behind writing this particular story?
I have been an enthusiastic participant in Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (now Storystorm) since 2011. I was inspired by Tammi Sauer’s post during PiBoIdMo 2014, which challenged writers to frame a story as a How-To Book. My brainstorming that day included this jot in my notebook: “How to make porcupine pie (or a pie for a porcupine)”. Even though it did not evolve into a How-To Book, that was the humble beginning of Porcupine’s Pie!
How do you hope readers will connect with the book, and/or what do you want them to take away from it?
I hope readers internalize what it is like to be a generous spirit, just like Porcupine. The recipe for Friendship Pie at the end is a great way to extend the enjoyment of the story into the kitchen (and tummies!) of children and their families.
Who are some of your favorite authors and illustrators and how do they inspire you?
Cynthia Rylant, Jacqueline Woodson, Marla Frazee, Philip and Erin Stead, LeUyen Pham, … I could go on! I am inspired by these authors and illustrators for their ability to express universal truths in truly unique ways. Whether funny or quiet, their stories pack an emotional punch. I study their works, deconstructing the plot, character development, or emotional arc with the eye of a student learning from a master teacher.
What influences do you think shape your writing?
There is something to be said for the writing advice ‘Write what you know.’ Growing up in a rural community, having a family garden, exploring the woods, making music, travelling… Not to mention the universal social-emotional rites of childhood: feeling lonely, being teased, feeling left out, connecting with a special friend, feeling nervous… Many of my memories and experiences have made their way in some form into my stories.
Can you let us in on any sneak peeks into your next books or other projects?
I’m always working on several picture books at various stages of the revision process. Word play and friendship figures into two stories that I’m most excited about. Also, I’m pleased to share that my next book, a nonfiction picture book biography about Mister Rogers of children’s television fame, is scheduled to be published in Fall 2019 by Atheneum. It is called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers.
Do you have some tips for other creatives?
Join SCBWI and start going to conferences in your region. Find a critique group. Read everything you can get your hands on that is current in your genre. Participate in one (or many!) of the great online writing groups, courses, and challenges. My favorites are kidlit411.com, subitclub.com, taralazar.com, napibowriwee.com, and picturebookbuilders.com.
What about a favourite word or quote?
On the bulletin board near my desk is this quote:
“…If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” - Henry David Thoreau, from Walden.
Find Laura on the web at laurarenauld.com and on social media:
Twitter - @laura_renauld
Facebook – @kidlitlaura
Instagram - @laurarenauld