It’s been said that writing is a solitary endeavor. Certainly it can be, but often the literary process puts you in contact with some pretty incredible people. I’m lucky to have met author, Monica Shaughnessy on my road to publication. Monica has just published her latest picture book, The Easter Hound (http://www.amazon.com/The-Easter-Hound-Monica-Shaughnessy-ebook/dp/B00JAMY1K4/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1396307808&sr=8-1&keywords=the+easter+hound), and I had the pleasure of interviewing her.
Q: Monica, you are known primarily as a YA and middle grade writer. Have you written picture books before The Easter Hound?
A: Loads! Most of them will never see the light of day, but I am proud of several, including The Easter Hound. One of them even scored a book deal with Tricycle Press (Random House), but the press closed before the book could be released.
Q: The Easter Hound is a sweet picture book for young children. Did you write it as a fun little tale, or did you want to relay a message? Perhaps that we are all good at something, but not necessarily at everything? Or is that digging too deep?
A: When I began the story, I honestly didn’t want to impart any message at all. Just a fun romp, I thought. But after I finished the manuscript, a theme began to form, and that’s “we are all good at something, but not necessarily everything.” You hit the proverbial nail on the head!
Q: You did both the writing and illustrations for Easter Hound. That’s pretty impressive. Have you ever done illustrations before? Do you have an art background?
A: I’ve been creating art most of my life, but don’t have formal training. So I’m in the “self-taught” category. However, creativity runs in my blood. Both my mother and grandmother are/were excellent artists as well.
Q: What made you decide to write The Easter Hound?
A: Once I finish a longer work, in this case, The Tell-Tail Heart, I usually turn to a shorter piece to give my brain a break. The Easter Hound came to me very quickly—I find my best ideas do—and I hurriedly wrote it down and tossed it to my critique group. But the next day, I stumbled upon the Kindle Comic Creator and realized I had to give the art a try, too. But don’t think for one minute that I entered into the project with a “what the heck” kind of attitude. I labored and obsessed over The Easter Hound as much as any novel. And it’s a little nerve-wracking to have my art on display for the very first time.
Q: How do you feel about this new digital world of publishing? Do you feel like it will give your books more exposure? What do you think the pros and cons of digital printing are?
A: For the last year and a half, I’ve embraced the “digital age” by self-publishing. It’s a terrific medium that gives content creators an immediacy they didn’t have before. So that Easter book can now be released this Easter, not the holiday two years from now. With all that being said, the children’s digital market hasn’t caught up to the adult digital market. That’s why I’m going to work on getting The Easter Hound in paperback form ASAP.
Q: Why did you decide to “go indie” with your books?
A: I tried the traditional route for a very long time and got really close at having a book deal several times. But in the end, my writing was always too quirky for most publishers. Editors usually say they want something “the same, but different.” I was just writing something different.
Q: What is your background in writing and illustrating?
A: I have been toiling away at a laptop now for nearly a decade. Long enough! As for illustrating, I am relatively new to this area. But I already know I will illustrate another picture book I wrote several years ago, Mighty Star. It’s a gentle introduction to stars for the youngest reader.
Q: What originally sparked your interest in writing?
A: My love of reading, of course! As a kid, I spent summers in the country with nothing but a book (no TV) and my imagination. It was heaven!
Q: Do you think of yourself as a writer of a particular genre? If so, what? And if not, do you feel equally comfortable with different genre?
A: I write across genres. I would be bored to tears sticking with just one format or one type of story. This makes it harder to establish an audience because my work is scattered. But as a writer, it’s very gratifying.