by Rachel Hamby
To get everyone sufficiently jazzed about our September 16th conference, we're highlighting some faculty members on the INW blog. A few weeks ago we featured Stephanie Oakes. Today Nonfiction Picture Book author, Annette Bay Pimentel has stopped by to answer a few questions. Thanks for joining us, Annette!
Your first book was recently awarded the Carter G. Woodson Award. Could you tell us a bit about the book and the award?
My book Mountain Chef; How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook up the National Park Service tells the story of a Chinese American trail chef who helped lobby for the passage of the National Park Service Act in 1915.
The National Council of Social Studies–an organization of social studies teachers—just gave the book the Carter G. Woodson Award for the best elementary book depicting the real life of an ethnic or racial minority in America. I’m thrilled that they would consider a definitely un-famous life for the award and am delighted that my book can be part of showing kids that the America we love was built by a diverse set of people.
Congratulations! A wonderful, well-deserved award. Next year, you have a new picture book coming out titled Girl Running. Bobbi Gibb is an inspiring woman. Tell us about Bobbi and what drew you to her story?
I’m always bugging my family for book ideas, and my husband sent me a link to the famous video of Kathleen Switzer getting thrown out of the 1967 Boston Marathon. I was shocked to realize how much our assumptions about women’s capabilities have changed over the past 50 years.
As I read about Switzer, though, I learned that she had been inspired by Bobbi Gibb, who ran the marathon the year before, in 1966. I read Gibb’s autobiography and was inspired by the joy she found in running and by her quiet determination to prove what women can do. I thought kids would respond to her story even more strongly than to Switzer’s. It was fun to dig into contemporary news stories and eventually to talk to Bobbi Gibb herself. The book, with beautiful collage art by Micha Archer, comes out February 6, 2018.
We'll look forward to celebrating the release of your next book in 2018! I noticed on your blog that you participate in the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge. Could you tell us about this and how interested folks can get involved?
Sure! Reading deeply in my genre is an important part of my writing life, and the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge is a big part of that.
The Challenge is in its sixth year. It encourages adult readers to set a reading goal related to nonfiction picture books, perhaps to read a certain number of books or to read books on a certain topic or in a certain format (for example, nonfiction books in verse). Every Wednesday the Kid Lit Frenzy blog publishes a post about a nonfiction picture book and other bloggers can link to their own nonfiction picture book posts in the comments section. We tweet about the books we read with the hashtag #nfpb2017, and there’s also a GoodReads page for the Challenge. We’d love to have any interested SCBWI members join us!
That's great advice, Annette. Reading books in the genre you write gives great insight into craft and the market. I really enjoyed visiting your website and blog in preparation for this interview. What are your top 3 tips on the subject of websites and blogs?
Awww. Thank you, Rachel!
- Better regular than often.
The internet is littered with blogs that burst into life and then sputter to a stop. When I first started my blog I posted multiple times a week. I soon found, though, that I was devoting more time to writing and revising blogposts than to writing and revising books.I decided to cut down to one post a week, but my rule is that I must post every week. My readers know I don’t post daily, but it’s still worth coming to my blog because I regularly add new content.
- Make your blog help you, not distract you.
Writing books, not a blog, is my main goal. So I set up my blog to meet my book goals: I want to know industry trends, so I only review new books; I want to write histories and biographies, so that’s what I review.
- Small is worth it, too.
Three years ago when I started my blog I imagined having an enormous audience. That hasn’t happened! But something just as good did happen. My few readers share my passion for nonfiction picture books and together, we’ve created an online community around a topic we all love.
Thanks for the tips! What other writing projects do you have in the works? Any news you can share with us?
In 2019 Nancy Paulsen Books will publish my book Ann Brooks Goes West (with her piano), the story of a pioneer who dragged her grand piano across the plains in a covered wagon. The illustrator hit the road this summer on a research trip to make sure his illustrations for the book are just right. I can’t wait to see them!
She sounds like another great person to introduce to young readers. Thanks again for taking time to answer a few questions, Annette. We look forward to hearing from you at the September conference. Picture book writers, Annette will sit down with you one-on-one to discuss your manuscript. Sign up here for the conference. If you've already registered but would like to add a manuscript consultation with Annette, please send an email to inlandnw at scbwi.org.
Annette Bay Pimentel lives in Moscow, Idaho, where she writes true stories about real people. Her first book, Mountain Chef: How One Man Lost His Groceries, Changed His Plans, and Helped Cook up the National Park Service, won the Carter G. Woodson award, a Eureka! Nonfiction Honor, and was named a Sigurd F. Olson Nature Writing Notable Book. She is represented by Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
Website and blog: http://www.annettebaypimentel.com/
Facebook: Annette Bay Pimentel