Yvonne Ventresca (www.YvonneVentresca.com)
- When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer? What was your very first effort? Do you still have it in your possession?
I’ve always loved reading and writing. I still have notebooks filled with hundreds of bad-to-mediocre poems I wrote as a child. Sadly, I threw away my opening chapters of a novel called The Flood. I remember writing them by hand on loose leaf paper when I was about thirteen.
- What is it about writing for kids, as opposed to adults, that most interests/inspires you?
My favorite author as a kid was Zilpha Keatley Snyder I knew exactly where the SNY shelf of fiction books was located in the library. My best friend and I could lose ourselves for hours in books like hers. When I began to write, I realized I wanted to create that experience for other kids.
- Your first published book was about careers, “Publishing.” How did that come about? Ditto for your second book, "Avril Lavigne?"
While I worked on some of my earlier fiction, I also freelanced, writing a series of articles about careers for high school students. Having that on my resume probably helped me land the Publishing assignment, since the book profiled several careers in the book publishing field. I worked for the same publisher (Lucent Books) on Avril Lavigne
, which was for their “People in the News” series.
Your website offers a lot of helpful links and advice for new writers. What's the single most important tip you would give someone who's trying to get a start?
For the very beginner, making time to write has to become a priority. It’s helpful if you can train yourself to be creative during odd bits of time (like idling in the school pick up line) instead of waiting for a block of hours to magically become free.
Once you’ve written something, finding a good critique group (or partner) is important. They can motivate you, advise you, and help make your writing stronger. You don’t want an editor to be your first reader. The flaws need to be smoothed out first, and a helpful critique group can kindly point out the weaker points. Critiquing other people’s work in return helps hone your own skills.
I also recommend joining the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
My favorite book about writing is Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird . She shares lots of writing wisdom.
- For you, what's the hardest part about writing? The most fun part?
The hardest part is beginning a brand new project with lots of characters to create and blank pages to fill. There is a certain leap of faith you have to take, hoping that the ideas come together. The most fun part for me is revising once the story has a clear direction. It’s rewarding to watch the novel evolve and become stronger with each revision.
That's it! Thanks a million, Yvonne!