Today’s interview is with a fantastic children’s author and an all-around insanely talented lady, Deborah Smith Ford! I first met her at Fandom Fest last year, and have been fortunate to get to know her and her incredible talent since then. See what she has to say about writing for children, an area that a lot of people take for granted (and shouldn’t)!
SJ: Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?DSF: My writing process varies, and an outline is part of the beginnings, although my outline is more like webbing – on paper, computer or just in my brain!When I write I write non-stop! Usually one thought moves into another and so on until, sometimes, I physically drop. By the way, I do not always use a computer, and my typewriting days have ended due to the strength in my fingers has lessened (but I’m sure I could get it back!). Instead, I write many times with pencil and paper, skipping every other line.On other occasions I write from memories, notes I have taken after I wake up, when on the road riding with someone (not driving), seeing something that triggers a thought, anywhere and everywhere, etc., so I combine all those ideas into my own, thus beginning another chain of writing.Sometimes my illustrator, Susi Galloway Newell, comes up with an artistic idea and my writing also flows from that.Either way, all of the writing ends up making sense eventually, even though it may not to others to begin with.SJ: Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?DSF: I do like to be comfortable when writing. Cotton pj bottoms-type pants (sweatpants are my fave) are nice with cotton long sleeve t-shirt, and a drink, always a drink nearby – usually just water, but sometimes cold or hot tea (depending on the weather).
SJ:Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?DSF: I guess I kind of covered where my ideas come from before under “writing process,” and yes they do come from everywhere. Mostly from my memories, but from people, animals and objects that I meet as well!SJ: bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?DSF: Any muse I might have would have to be myself when younger and/or any child-like character. When I write for older ages, the child becomes older in my thoughts, as well as in his or her actions.SJ: What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?DSF: The first published book, “The Little Apple, “would have to be the closest one to my heart, as that is where it mostly came from. The young lady in the first book does come from the imagination, but she was also inspired from real life. Her own thoughts and companions she meets along the way are from both as well – imagination and real life.Hard to play favorites at this point, except if it were not for the first book, there probably would not have been others, and thus the series established – “Allie’s Adventures”!SJ: If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
SJ: Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
SJ: It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
Perfect example I think with my being an author of children’s books. All I can say is, try it!!! I would also love to illustrate them, and I did with the first one (in the 1980s) until this new digital age came about. I find I can only do one or one hundred things well at a time, and adding on that one additional talent, like illustrating, does not work for me.