Picture Book author Kim Norman grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but spends a few weeks each summer in Maine, where many of her relatives live. A Maine lake was the inspiration for the setting of her CROCODADDY. Kim & her husband have two sons, to whom her book, TEN ON THE SLED, was dedicated. The Normans live in Smithfield, Virginia, in a little house shaded by giant pecan trees.
1. Do you have a favorite place to write?
Now that I’ve just completed my new “creative room” (former room of younger son) I’m a lucky girl, because I now have TWO favorite places to write: at my grandmother’s old secretary’s desk in the creative room or outside in the shade of our huge pecan trees.
2. What do you love most about writing?
I’m kind of lazy, so the part I like the VERY best is “having written.” Haha! But when I’m feeling a bit more ambitious, I really enjoy sitting outside on a breezy day working uninterrupted for a few hours, getting into that sort of zone where you don’t even know what’s going on around you. (I’ve been known to wear big, fat noise-canceling earphones while I work. Not very glamorous, but it sure does help keep my thoughts from spilling out of my ears.) Even now, with one son married and the other in college, it’s still hard to find as many uninterrupted hours as I’d like.
3. What is the hardest and easiest part of the writing process for you?
Hardest: Getting that first draft down, especially if I’m writing in prose. (In rhyme, I work so obsessively that I don’t really notice if I’m struggling.) Endings are especially hard for me – making everything feel organic and not tacked on. The easiest (and “funnest”) part is writing in rhyme, but if it’s a prose piece, then going back in and paring down latter drafts is fun. I like to get the text down to as spare as I can make it. I was flattered recently when my agent told me that an editor complimented my manuscripts by saying that the piece was very tight, without a single extra word. I took that as high praise.
4. What five words best sum up your personality?
Hmmm. Okay, here goes:
Creative, extraverted, bookish theater geek
(There! I made it into one overly modified noun!)
5. Other than writing, what else do you love to do?
Well, word number 4 above is a hint: I’m a Broadway geek. (Not a “gleek” because I always forget to watch “Glee.”) And I’m starting to get back into doing fine art, which is a side of myself I have neglected for the past decade or so.
6. Describe your perfect day.
A cool fall day when I can get out early to work in my flower garden, then lunch (which is our dinner) with my family, then more time outside writing. (Or sitting near a window where I can see leaves fall as I write.) Then, in the evening, a walk with hubby along the lovely new Windsor Castle Trail, which has an entrance right on our street. (Lucky us!)
7. Do you have a writing schedule?
I’m pretty terrible about writing on schedule. I do my best writing in the morning, I think, although I have spent some pleasant afternoons writing rhyming manuscripts.
8. What are your past, current, and/or next projects?
It’s been a busy year, with 4 new books coming out: two Sterling Storytime Sticker books (WHALES and DINOSAURS), and two hardback picture books: I KNOW A WEE PIGGY, illustrated by Henry Cole and published by Dial Books for Young Readers; and THE GREAT CHRISTMAS CRISIS, illustrated by Janni Ho and published by Sterling Children’s Books. Of course, those have been done for a year or more.
Next out of the gate (fall of 2013) will be a sequel to TEN ON THE SLED, also illustrated by Liza Woodruff and published by Sterling. It’s called IF IT’S SNOWY AND YOU KNOW IT, CLAP YOUR PAWS. I think Liza’s illustrations for that book are even more delightful than for TEN ON THE SLED, if that’s possible.
I’ve also got a new picture book that’s in negotiations right now. It’s about a dog. (The book, not the negotiations!) And I’m in the process of revising a new manuscript right now that my agent thinks has a good chance, based on the subject matter.
Outside of actual writing, I also enjoy doing author school visits. Right now, I’m exciting about putting together a workshop on voice for a school in Amherst, VA. It’s kind of a luxury, knowing I’ll be working with smaller groups in a workshop setting for this particular author visit. I enjoy the energy of larger assemblies; they’re like pep rallies for books. But in a workshop, you get to work mostly closely with individual students and really get to know them. I enjoy that, too, but most school visits involve just the large presentations, so this will be a treat.
9. Where can we reach you? (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)
My website is http://www.kimnormanbooks.com
Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorKimNorman
On Twitter, I’m KimNormanAuthor (I know, that was really stupid, giving myself oppositely configured handles like that!)
And there’s a blog ON my website, although I also have an old Blogger blog (Stone Stoop) that I still use now and then. In fact, you can view my new creative room there: http://stonestoop.blogspot.com/
A few weird facts about Kim:
Kim’s parents restored a Victorian home in which her father left one deliberate flaw: a hole in the first floor ceiling for her dad’s pet raccoon to stick its upper body through, hang from, and wave at you. Really.
Kim took up tap dancing at age 44… and found that she wasn’t half bad at it, for an “old broad.”
Her family’s yellow Labrador retriever dashes out and fetches the newspaper every morning.
When Kim was about 9, she and her two brothers were all chosen by lottery to participate in a “greased pig contest” in Maine. They each caught a pig. The events of later that night have become part of family lore. They involve a runaway piglet, a lake, and a heroic leap by Kim’s mom.
Kim used to sing in a Big Band. For pay, even. But she’d rather sing Broadway songs for free.
Kim’s favorite stage roles have been as the singing narrator in Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; the Mother Superior in Nunsense; the evil Miss Hannigan in Annie, and Tevye’s wife, Golde, in Fiddler on the Roof.
Thanks, Kim, for a great interview!