Barb Lieberman loves few things more than writing for children… well, almost nothing more. Here is an interview with her, where she lets you find out more about her and her books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
1. Pretend we are all children and tell us 5 things about yourself which you consider the most important!
That I’m honest, work very hard, am very loyal, love deeply, and believe in honoring the creativity inside each of us.
2. Why do your write books for children? What motivates and inspires you? How do your books come to life?
I wrote Treasure of Ravenwood at my daughter Ellie’s request, when she was four years old. I was writing other stories and she asked for her own fairy tale, a combination of Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast. The character of Mouse was inspired by Ellie, who is strong and loyal and filled with wonder. As far as how it came to life, I went to that inner place where the stories wait and opened a door, or in this case a large iron gate, and the story flowed out. When that happens, I just type and type, and later am amazed by what I’ve written.
3. What were your favourite children’s books and characters when you were a child (and still)? Was there a character you wanted to be, or a book you wanted to step into? Why?
I learned to love Anne of Green Gables from my mother. I loved the way Anne saw the world and I stll do. My favorite quote comes from that story. I also loved the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and that was the story I wanted to enter, right through the wardrobe.
3. What is your main goal when you write a children’s book? What do you want your readers to think or feel?
Honestly, I wrote the story with only my daughter in mind. Now that it’s published, I feel so honored that so many love Mouse and Shadow as much as I do. I want my readers to feel Mouse’s strength, despite her sorrow and disappointment. I want them to see the world through her eyes and appreciate even the smallest of things around them. I want them to feel her anticipation and joy. And, I want them to think of others and what they may be facing.
4. How do comments and reviews affect you? What do your friends, family and colleagues think about you as a writer?
Comments and reviews help me know how readers perceive my characters and whether they ‘get’ what I meant when writing. At the same time, they often see more than I do and show me things about my story that I didn’t see before. One such review included the idea that Mouse is her own fairy godmother. I love that! It’s now part of how I market the story.
Long-time friends have been surprised to see me ‘become’ a writer, even though I’ve been writing for years. I’ve also begun to meet new people and build a community of writers around me, who have been very encouraging and supportive. I’m still new to the mantle of ‘author’ and ‘writer’, still feeling a little uncomfortable being called that, and yet it is a dream come true at the same time.
5. What is the most difficult thing about writing a children’s book? What is the most fun aspect of that process?
I’m not sure I would say this is difficult but I wanted to be sure not to write ‘down’ to my readers. I wanted the story to appeal to children of all ages, and the adults who might be reading to them. I wanted them to ask for more, when the adult said it was time to go to sleep, just as my daughter did when I was writing the story in the first place. The most fun aspect was my daughter’s reaction. I would write a few chapters with her sitting at my feet or brushing my hair and then read them to her. Her joy was definitely the most fun part of this, especially when she finally saw her story published as a book last year and dedicated to her. She’s now 19 and so proud of me. And, she’s going to publish her first book soon. What could be better than inspiring your child to such achievements?
6. Do you like reading your book in public? Who is the tougher audience – the adults or the children? Share an anecdote if you wish.
I do like reading in public and I can’t say either are tough as audiences. I think children tend to ask questions about the story line, where adults tend to want to know about the process. The best part is when they laugh when they are supposed to and show dismay or sadness when they are supposed to. Hearing and seeing those reactions are priceless to me. Asking for more when I stop? That’s the best!
7. What is the one genre or topic you think you would never write and why?
Horror. Just do not enjoy it at all.
8. If you could interview any famous children’s author, who would it be and what would you ask?
C.S. Lewis, for sure. I would love to have shared a cuppa with him and talked about his writing, his analogies, and maybe what he left out. What he loved about writing and what his own challenges were.
9. Why is reading important for children? Is it more important for them to read by themselves or with an adult?
Reading isn’t important; it is essential. Reading takes us to another place; it transports us on a soul-level and those trips make us whole. We can celebrate, escape, risk, and experience every single emotion, in the safety of an armchair. Children can try on other lives for size and walk in the shoes of others they will never meet. It removes barriers and wipes away lines in the sand, allowing us into places we might never go otherwise. Books are like the Tardis, bigger on the inside. So are we, when we read.
All children should have adults read to them. Just as a play should be acted out, children should hear adults tell the stories in their books, over and over again. The experience of hearing and seeing the stories being read, the bond created by that shared experience, cannot be overemphasized. But, children should be encouraged to read on their own as well. Books at their reading level, as well as books a bit beyond their current level. We should let them read anything and everything and then talk with them about what they read.
10. Would you like to add anything about your current work or send a message to the readers?
My current focus is my second novel, part of a series of three books, based in Wyoming. I don’t know if there will be any more children’s stories in my future but we can only wait and see. I hope anyone who reads Treasure of Ravenwood will let me know what they think of the story. And I welcome any and all children’s artwork inspired by the story. I love fan art and seeing what others see in my stories.
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