The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Rosie Pova
First things first, the winner of Annie Silvestro's Mice Skating is:
Today, let's welcome Rosie Pova. Originally from Bulgaria, she lives in Texas with her husband and three kids. She writes primarily for children of all age groups, as well as poetry. Some of her poems have appeared in literary magazines such as Poetry Quarterly, Burningword Literary Journal, Haiku Journal and more. She's the author of If I Weren't With You (SPORK, an imprint of Clear Fork Publishing, 2017), Hailey Queen Pranking Makes Perfect: The Alien Encounter (SPORK, 2017) and Sarah's Song (SPORK, September 2017).
Thank you Rosie for stopping by.
It's my pleasure, Maria.
ME: Tell us a little about yourself. (Where/when do you write? How long have you been writing? What is your favorite type of book to write?)
Rosie: I've been actively writing for thirteen years now and I don't intend to stop :-). I write during the day, while my kids are at school, and also late at night, after they go to bed. Sometimes, writing longhand in a notebook works better to get that first draft down, but I'm mostly on my laptop, at home. No music! I need a quiet space when I write so I can hear my thoughts. That's why coffee shops aren't a good spot for me to create – too noisy and distracting. But they are a great place to observe and analyze people and "steal" snippets of dialogue. Especially from teenagers, if you're writing for that age group, ha-ha.
What is something no one (or few) knows about you?
Hmm, this is a tough one. If there's anything people don't know about me maybe there's a reason for that and perhaps I want to keep it that way . . . BWAHAHAH!
But okay. I was going to go with something else, but here's one: I used to work at the Vancouver International Airport in BC, Canada as a security officer and I got to scan Goldie Hawn with my hand-held metal detector when she beeped passing through security because she had like a million bangles on her wrist. So that was cool.
What a fun experience! How different is Sarah’s Song from If I Weren’t With You?
Both stories fall into the sweet/loving category so at this time, that's the niche I'm getting known for with my picture books. If I Weren’t With You
reflects on motherly love and Sarah’s Song is about the bond between a grandchild and a grandparent. Additionally, If I Weren’t With You is anthropomorphic and uses verbal imagery to portray the love sentiments. While Sarah’s Song conveys inter-generational love through dancing, singing, and music.
Going forward, I'd like to diversify in themes and emotions as my body of work ranges from funny and quirky, to concept, and nearly wordless stories, in addition to these lyrical or slice of life stories. So I'd like my next published book to be one of those. Especially one of the funny and quirky ones!
Is there anything you want your readers to know about Sarah’s Song? Who or what was the inspiration for Sarah’s Song?
Reading mentor texts with a similar theme, I wanted to create a story about something precious – not necessarily an object – which a child will ultimately have to part with, accept a change, and move forward. So I thought about the bond with a grandparent that would be affected because of aging. I didn't want a super sad story where the grandparent was gone, but one about the change that happens and how it's viewed through the eyes of a child in a sweet, naive way. Like I had experienced it as a little girl with my grandfather.
When he was gravely ill, no one told us what was really wrong and so I thought, in my very childish, naive way, that if he would just eat better food or take more walks, he'd get well. I was upset that there was no good, nutritious food in the house for him to give him more energy and make him better.
In the same way, Sarah thinks that if only she could find the perfect song for her grandma, it will make her better. Eventually, she finds a way to adjust and continue the special bond with Grandma in a different way.
It has been very rewarding the way people are reacting to the story and the impression it's making. Especially when a positive review comes from an established, respected writer like Laura Purdie Salas, who said:
"Sarah's relationship with her grandma changes as Grandma ages and can no longer do some of their favorite activities. Sarah wants things to go back to the way they were, but of course that's not possible. In this kind and affectionate story, Sarah figures out how to tweak a family tradition to keep her connection with her grandma strong.
. . . Reading this made me miss my mom so much! "
– Laura Purdie Salas, author of Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families, laurasalas.com
Touching someone with my story is huge. To me, this is a reward of immeasurable value. I hope to get more of these reactions as Sarah's Song reaches more readers.
You've touched a universal chord, something many people can relate to, either with their own grandparents or parents. Who was your favorite author, illustrator, and/or favorite book as a child?
Other than folktales, there weren't many books in Bulgaria when I was growing up. Or at least I wasn't exposed to many. But my favorite story as a child was Cinderella.
What was the most interesting thing you experienced/discovered as your book went from acquisition through to publication?
The most interesting thing I experienced was the range of emotions, the intensity and frequency of excitement / fear combination as it all became real. During the process of the book production, I remember how anxious I was to find out what it would look like as a finished product and couldn't wait to share it with the world, but at the same time, it seemed like I'd never be ready to share it publically as there was always something I wanted to tweak or improve. But I knew that was just nerves for the most part and that I needed to let go at some point.
What/who is your greatest source of inspiration? (either as a child or now as a writer.)
My greatest source of inspiration are my kids because I want to be a good example for them of someone who works hard at a dream and sees it to fruition. I also want to make a difference, create a legacy I am proud of and they will be proud of, too, but more importantly, to inspire them to do the same for themselves.
Plus, I'm still trying to prove my husband wrong – he tells me my writing is an expensive hobby.
There is something else I've discovered though. It's ironic to say this, but writing fiction helps me understand real life better, it helps me become who I want to be as a human being, both in my relationship with others and with myself. So I will stick with it, "expensive hobby" or not!
Interesting that books improve and change the lives or their authors, as much as they impact their readers. Any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?
Well, I just finished a new story – a picture book – and I'm excited to share it with my critique groups and find out what my critique partners have to say in their feedback. Then I'll revise, polish, and probably send it to my agent.
I also want to dedicate more time to my young adult writing in the future so I'll be working on that as well.
In the meantime, I look forward to selling another story and getting a new book into production. It's such a thrill!
What do you most like about working with Spork, a relatively new, smaller publisher?
What I most like about working with Spork is how personable my publisher is and how close our relationship is. Shortly after I started working with them, I felt like Callie was a friend and I was very comfortable reaching out to her about anything. The attention I've been getting at Spork is amazing! I like the flexibility of a small house, I love the input that I'm allowed to have, and I value the community that Spork has created for all of us. I'm big on communication and that has been excellent with Spork, too. It truly has been a unique experience. Spork feels like family.
That seems to be a universal sentiment from other Spork authors. Is there anything about writing you know now that you wished you had known when you started? Or something you’re glad you did not know beforehand?
Ha! Yes and yes. I wish I knew that it's not possible or at least it's extremely hard to do it alone. I wish I had the support of the writing community early on – a critique group, a place to ask questions and learn from others.
I'm glad I didn't know it would take so many years to find my first publishing home.
What is your favorite animal? Why?
I'll go with a dog – whatever breed Tammi Sauer's dog is because it's so cute!
But it has to be well behaved, too.
Thank you, Rosie for stopping by and sharing with us. It was wonderful to chat with you.
Be sure to check out the Perfect Picture Book Review of Sarah's Song this Friday for #PPBF.
To find out more about Rosie J. Pova, or get in touch with her:
Here its the Trailer for Sarah's Song: