Monday, March 19, 2012

Words From the Wise #5 -- Paulette Bourgeois

I have been anxiously waiting for today so that I could share this special interview with you.  For years we have all loved the Franklin series of books, and today we get to have an up close and personal look at Franklin's creator, Paulette Bourgeois.  As many of you are pre-published authors, keep in mind that Paulette's first book, Franklin in the Dark, was rejected 6 times before Kids Can Press saw its potential.  


Now, having sold more than 60 million books world wide in 38 different languages, I introduce to you Paulette Bourgeois!





1. Can you let us know a little history about how you became a children's author?



I had been an Occupational Therapist and then a journalist working in television and magazines before having my first child. Very naively I thought... hmm, I am a writer and I have a child perhaps I should try writing books for children. I took my newborn to the library and read picture books from A to Z. It was a wonderful immersion into the world of children's literature but I didn't have an idea until one late night as I nursed my daughter and watched an episode of M*A*S*H in which Hawkeye tells Hot Lips that he can't be evacuated into a cave because he is so claustrophobic that if he were a turtle, he'd be afraid of his own shell. I wrote Franklin in the Dark the next morning. Before long it had become a series. I wrote other picture books as well and because of my journalism background, I also felt very comfortable writing nonfiction science books for readers age 8-12. 








2.  What types of books are you drawn to-- both children's books, as well as adult books? 

I read voraciously and I honestly like almost any book that is well-written whether it is are character-driven, plot-driven, or fascinating non-fiction. I always have a couple of books on my bedside table and they range from YA fantasy to books on the plasticity of the brain. I have a soft spot for books that can make me laugh and cry within pages of each other. 




3.  Many of the followers of this blog are prepublished authors.  Can you describe the process that you go through when writing a new story?  Brainstorm to the book shelves?  


It has been a while since I have written a new book. I recently returned to graduate school for a Masters in Fine Art in Creative Writing where I studied screenwriting and I am focusing on writing an animated feature film for children. I found that with almost all of my picture books that I would get a kernel of an idea from a memory, an emotion, a overheard conversation or an incident and it would run around my head until it became a story with a solid beginning, middle and end. Only then would I sit down to write. Rarely, the first draft would be good enough to send to my talented editors. More often, I would rewrite the story three or four times before sending it off. Editorial always had comments and that would be another two or three stabs at getting the story just right before sending it to the illustrator. I have worked with very talented illustrators, including Brenda Clark who co-created Franklin the Turtle with me. I trust  illustrators to come up with their creative vision from my words and I rarely collaborate directly with them but I am always delighted with how they enhance the story. I also trust the art directors and designers to find the best covers. Once the book is published and on the shelves, I try to work with the publicity department  to best promote the book. It's much different today than when I started. Authors have to sell themselves and their books. 



4.  If you could travel back in time, what historical figure would you like to spend time with, and why?

Nikola Tesla was undoubtably one of the most brilliant minds of the last century.  He had visions for inventions that continue to influence scientists today. 



5.  Who is your all time favorite picture book character?  What about this character makes them so desirable to you? 

I have never thought about this before but I would have to say, The Grinch who shows us all that it is never too late to open our hearts and our minds to love and joy. 






Canadian author, Paulette Bourgeois, holds a MFA in Creative Writing.  You can find all of her children's books at Kids Can Press .  








19 comments:

  1. Paulette, I am a long time admirer of your work and read your books to my son when he was growing up. What detail you give in your stories to entice your readers to fall in love with Franklin! Thank you, Sandi, for this wonderful interview! I really wish you two ladies would consider participating in my author promotion booth at the Children's Festival of Reading (http://knoxrooms.sirsi.net/rooms/portal/page/21676_Childrens_Festival_of_Reading ). I have nine authors so far signed up and would LOVE you to join the fun! If you would like more info, I posted today on my blog about this event
    ( http://www.donasdays.blogspot.com )

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    1. Thank you for your feedback Donna. I would love to participate in your booth, but how do I do that with an ebook?

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  2. very inspiring interview to anyone, but expecially those of us hoping to publish one day! thanks sandi!

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    1. You are very welcome! I am glad that you enjoyed meeting Paulette.

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  3. Wonder interview! I enjoyed hearing about Paulette's writing process and journey.

    p.s. Sandi, I just noticed your many resourceful links in your sidebar. You have such a helpful site.

    Thanks for sharing Ladies:)

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    1. Thank you Jennifer! I am glad that you find the site helpful.

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  4. Sandi, I'd like to know who you are able to get such great authors to guest on your blog? How does that process work/go? I love reading the events or situations that inspire authors to create a successful product and this is really good information being shared. Thanks to both of you beautiful ladies. Great job!

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    1. Great question Pam. I go to the websites of authors who I enjoy, and then I just send them an email through their contact information. I figure that if I ask, and they say no, I am in no worse position than I was before. Glad that you enjoyed the interview.

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  5. Sandi, thank you for seeking out and nailing such an interesting review with such an interesting author! It's always heartening to find out that six agencies took the time to reject such a wonderful character (and such a prolific and readable author!) before Franklin found success.

    I especially loved the "if you could travel back in time" question. A lot of fun. :)

    Can't wait to see who you interview next!

    NotAnonymously yours, Melissa Kelley

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  6. Glad you enjoyed reading about Paulette. Check back next Monday for another great author!

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  7. Thanks for interviewing Paulette, and for not making it 30 pages long :) Always enjoy how successful writers "made" it.

    Thanks again!

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    1. It was my absolute pleasure! Keep checking back to read about how other authors got their start.

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  8. What a wonderful interview! I haven't read the Frankiln books, but definitely have added them to my list for the library.

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    1. So many Franklin books to choose from! I wouldn't even know which one to tell you to read first.

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  9. What an excellent and interesting interview, Paulette and Sandi! I so enjoyed learning the story behind Franklin. And I was delighted to learn that Paulette is CANADIAN! (Why didn't I know that before?)

    When I saw who you were interviewing today, I thought "WOW! Is that ever cool!" Good for you for being bold and seeking out interview subjects!

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    1. Thanks Beth! I knew that you would love learning that she is Canadian. Keep watching, more great interviews on the horizon!

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  10. Great interview! My kids & I love reading Franklin books!

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    1. I have enjoyed Franklin with my girls for years!

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  11. This was wonderful to get to know an established author. I love hearing how writers get ideas. Thanks for doing sucha good interview Sandi and sharing it with us.

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