Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Interview with Children's Book Author Anna C. Morrison: 'Revise, revise, revise'



Anna C. Morrison is an author of children’s books, including Silly Moments and Green Gooey Goop, with many more to follow.  She is also an adjunct professor for multiple colleges and universities, both face-to-face and online.  While she instructs various levels of English composition, she also teaches classes on literature, film, feature writing, and technical writing, among others.  In addition, she has worked with Adapt Courseware as a writing consultant on three video course projects, including college skills and composition.  Anna received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and her BA in English, Creative Writing, from California State University, San Bernardino.  Anna is an active member of SCBWI and is available for book signings.  She lives in Southern California with her family and pets.
  
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About the Book:


Title: Green Gooey Goop
Author: Anna C. Morrison
Publisher: Green Gooey Goop
Pages:16
Genre: Children’s Picture Book
Format: Paperback/Kindle

A little girl is presented with a different sort of a meal when her mom serves her green gooey goop. Interesting and icky ingredients appear one by one as the little girl decides what's in this noxious-smelling concoction. The little girl creates a flood, and her dog's fur turns green. Suggested age range for readers: 0-8

This book was written to capture the moment when a child is confronted by healthy food that, while nutritious, may not appear to be delicious.  Many children react imaginatively to new foods, and the child in this book is no exception.  She envisions the ingredients as other than what her mother describes in the first part of the book in an attempt to get out of eating the food.  When she realizes she must eat it anyway, it spills onto the family dog, who may or may not be green forever!  

I hope you enjoy starting a conversation with your child about the value of eating healthy foods that also taste delicious.  Thank you for reading Green Gooey Goop!

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us to the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

A: Thank you! The idea for Green Gooey Goop sprouted from when my son was 6 or 7 years old, and he was utterly grossed out over what he termed the “liquid spinach” that I would drink every morning for breakfast while I was driving him to school and myself to work.  I would buy the pre-bottled green smoothies that contained vegetables and fruit in order to have a healthy meal on the go, and I usually offered him some, but he never wanted any.  He would ask me what exactly was in those things and tell me they looked “disgusting.”  All he wanted to eat was peanut butter and jelly, all the time.  He would never try green vegetables, and I was really trying to find ways for him to eat a wider variety of food and to realize that nutritious could also mean delicious.  I used to sing, “Liquid spinach, liquid spinach, drink it up from start to finish!” and offer him a tasty sip.  He would laugh and say, “Not me!”  In Green Gooey Goop, I exaggerated his response by adding many funny ingredients that could possibly be in the health drink that the child receives as her meal.  And what happens to the dog at the end?  It is all in the child’s imagination, which we know is a ripe as the food we would like children to eat!  It is my hope that this book will allow caregivers and children a chance to giggle and laugh together and discuss what kinds of foods we really should put in our bodies and how delicious they might be if we only tried them.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this, and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

A:  This book started with an authentic situation and expanded to become its own story.  It came from a place of fun and laughter and togetherness and a desire to eat healthy foods and share them with those I care about.  That core element grew to include meter and rhyme, and eventually, illustrations were added.  It was a joyful process, even through many editing sessions.  There were other ingredients I wanted to add that didn’t fit the meter or the rhyme scheme, so they were discarded.  It was important for me to maintain flexibility and be happy to exchange words in replacement for other words that I may really like but didn’t belong in this iteration of the story.  It has gone through many retellings, from a simple poem to a longer poem, to a first-person story of the entire account (mainly to inform myself of what exactly was going on here), to an outline of the plot, to a sketching of the narrative arc, and then finally, back to rhyme, but in a different rhyme scheme and the addition of meter.  Counting syllables is a process that can be frustrating, and it’s important to step away from the work for a day or so and to sleep on it.  New ingredients would come to me while I was driving or sweeping the floor or in dreams.  It was a long process, and it took a few years to really come together in the state it is now.  Flexibility, patience, and willingness to revise, revise, revise are all very important when writing any piece.

Q: Who is your publisher, and how did you find them, or did you self-publish?

A:  Guardian Angel Publishing is the publisher for Green Gooey Goop.  They also published my first book, Silly Moments, in 2010, so I knew about them from my first publishing experience.  I appreciate the family atmosphere of Guardian Angel Publishing, and the ease of communication and working together regarding editing are a real plus.  Everything went smoothly both times, and I am grateful to have been accepted and published through them.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

A:  When I published Silly Moments, it did surprise me how good it felt to finally see my work between the covers and my name on Amazon as an author.  I remember my first book signing.  I read the book to the children at a library for the summer reading program, and they enjoyed it very much and then lined up to buy copies and ask for autographs.  It made me very happy to contribute to the moments children spend reading, either individually or with caregivers, such as parents and grandparents.  I realized, “Wow!  I can actually make a difference in a child’s life!”  That was a flash of insight, like an epiphany, and it keeps me writing.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on, and when will they be published?

A:  I have several works in progress.  I recently submitted a manuscript with a working title of Squirrel Superhighway, so I am hopeful that it may be accepted for publication.  It’s about a dog and his desire to become one of the graceful squirrels he admires in the trees above him.  He tries and tries to be like the squirrels, but he is not a squirrel and he cannot be like them.  In the end, he realizes that he is happiest being a dog.  The moral is to be yourself in order to find true happiness.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

A:  I like Facebook, but Google Plus is also nice, and I’ve recently rediscovered Twitter.  In addition, I have a blog that I update pretty regularly.  I can be found at the links below, and I check them frequently.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

A: Green Gooey Goop has a distinct message of “Please will you just eat your vegetables?” that I believe many parents and children can relate to easily.  It opens the door to light-hearted conversations about food with children who may not be as willing to eat healthfully as their parents desire.  I have found that using humor to communicate with children is very effective—much more so than being serious all the time.  I’m a person who likes to inject humor into almost every situation, so this comes naturally to me.  Why not laugh about food and then try some broccoli?  It just might taste good and you can smile while eating it!
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

A:  Thank you for the interview!  I’m glad to be able to contribute to the moments that children and their caregivers spend together reading, as these are sacred times in a child’s (and parent’s) life.  Books like the ones I write are designed to help alleviate the stress from daily life and allow opportunities to lighten up and laugh while also discussing issues that affect us all, such as the food we eat and how it helps us to be healthy, which is the message that Green Gooey Goop implies.  Just as the books my son and I read are special to us, I hope for the books I write to become a bedtime (or anytime) reading staple for children and their caregivers.