Kelly DiPucchio insists she grew up on a farm in Michigan but her husband has serious doubts about her claim. As a child, Kelly had a pet goat and jumped in manure piles so you be the judge. Kelly is the author of over twenty award-winning books for kids including two New York Times bestsellers. Some of her titles include: GRACE FOR PRESIDENT, ZOMBIE IN LOVE, and GASTON. Kelly lives in a suburb of Detroit with one husband, two dogs, and three children.
For what age audience do you write?
I write what I like to call everybody books which are picture books for all ages.
Henry: As all picture books should be. Well played.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is called ONE LITTLE, TWO LITTLE, THREE LITTLE CHILDREN, illustrated by Mary Lundquist and published by Balzer + Bray. It’s very different from my more recent titles because it’s a short, rhyming book inspired by an old nursery song.
Henry: As the author of MONSTER GOOSE NURSERY RHYMES, I like what you did there!
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I hope the book conveys that children, mothers, and fathers all over the world are more alike than they are different, and that families, no matter how they’re structured, or how they look, want the same things: love, peace, and happiness.
Henry: Nice. This is true of monsters, too.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
For me, the writing itself is a joy. What I find most challenging is struggling with feelings of inadequacy when it comes to networking and publicity. After being in this industry for nearly 20 years, you’d think I would have gotten over my insecurities, but at my core I’m still a shy, awkward introvert who often compares herself to her more gregarious peers.
Henry: It is something of a paradox that the solitary activity of writing, must be supplemented by promotion, which is done in front of audiences.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I’ve learned that we are the authors of our own life stories and it’s never too late to revise.
Henry: Just don’t “murder your darlings” in real life!
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I never would have had an opportunity to co-author a book with the Queen of Jordan and go to The Oprah Winfrey Show! (THE SANDWICH SWAP, illustrated by Tricia Tusa, published by Disney-Hyperion. 2010)
Henry: Umm, YEAH!! Did you know the current King of Jordan had a cameo guest role on an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation?
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
I always suggest that new writers join SCBWI, read and study picture books, find a really good critique group and have fun. I know it sounds ridiculously corny and cliché, but having a book published is more of a journey than a destination.
Henry: Good advice. Studying other picture books is doubly helpful. It hones your craft, and it can help you avoid duplicating an existing book. For example, I had a zombie book idea. Did some research, and, whadya’ know? You had done something similar already! Also, critique groups are invaluable.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
I keep a journal of favorite quotes but two that seem relevant with everything that is happening in the world today are both by the Sufi mystic, Rumi. “Raise your words not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” And “Yesterday I was clever so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise so I am changing myself.”
Henry: Nice. I also like, “What you’re doing speaks so loudly, that I can’t hear what you’re saying.”
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
I don’t know if I would call it strange, but I meditate before I begin writing any new manuscript. I also do some visualization exercises and I imagine the book is already completed. These two rituals really open a channel for me and allow the story to flow. Strong coffee and Pop-Tarts help too.
Henry: There is nothing strange about eating Pop-Tarts!
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
It would be to eat whatever I wanted and never gain a pound!
Henry: That tailors nicely with the Pop-Tarts response. That reminds me of a scene from the movie Defending Your Life.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
I absolutely adore Dan Santat’s Beekle. I love the character, the concept and the inspiration behind Dan’s unimaginary friend. Beekle is one of those brilliant ideas I wish I had thought of first!
Henry: Wait. Beekle’s not real!?
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
ATTENTION VISITORS: Kelly DiPucchio has been relocated to a different department. Check your internal directory for a listing of her new assignment and location.
Where can readers find your work?
Readers can find me at http://www.kellydipucchio.com and on Twitter @kellydipucchio, Thanks for sharing your space with me, Henry!
Henry: Thanks for spending time with us, Kelly. I’m a big fan of your work!