A year ago, I had the pleasure to interview Annie Silvestro. This year, she released a beautiful book about Christmas, trains, and friendship from the point of view of a little pine tree. I have the pleasure of talking with her a bit about this new book and writing.
For some basic information on Annie, and to read about her delightful book Mice Skating, see our earlier interview (here) and #PPBF post (here).
Welcome back Annie! I am so exciting that your third picture book, The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains released September 18th!
Thank you so much!
ME: Did the process of creating and publishing The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains differ from that of Mice Skating or Bunny’s Book Club? How?
ANNIE: Yes! I had written the Christmas tree story some time ago, but I couldn’t get it quite right. It sat in a drawer for quite a while (years) before I was inspired to pull it out again. I learned so much in the meantime, it made a big difference to the writing.
Never thrown away those ideas! Create a safe place (file or drawer) for them to simmer, while your subconscious works out the kinks. If you could share one thing with your younger self and/or kids today what would that be?
All your reading will pay off! Also, be confident in yourself and persistent in following your dreams.
Trust and persistence seem to be skills all writers have to cultivate. What was your inspiration for The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains?
I was inspired twofold for this story. First, taking down the Christmas ornaments one year I was struck with a melancholy that the season was coming to an end. That’s when the idea for replanting the tree struck me. The train part of the story was absolutely inspired by my eldest son who continues to be passionate about trains – which makes for some pretty awesome trips!
I totally understand your sense of melancholy. Having to take down the tree always seemed to coincide with the end of college break for my kids. Did you find that the number of rejections gets smaller with each subsequent book?
Rejections seem to fluctuate – each experience has been different - some smaller some larger unfortunately.
Sorry to hear that. Guess anything worth doing comes with its own set of challenges. Is there anything you want your readers to know about The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains?
Christmas books are particularly special to me and I hope this story resonates with readers in a meaningful way - it may be because of a love of Christmas, a love of nature, a love of trains – or even from relating to that experience of finding a friend when you may be feeling scared or alone.
I love about that this book offers so many layers or ways to connect. Would you say there is a common thread in your books?
I would definitely say that friendship is a common thread in all of my books. Somehow I can’t resist the topic!
That is a great common thread. Did you or Kirkus come up with the comparison that your book is “reminiscent of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Fir-Tree?” (maybe the comp title you submitted?)
That was all Kirkus – I was delighted!
It is an honor, but I must say, I like that your story is more upbeat and has a happy ending. Do you have a favorite book? Perhaps one that was the most gratifying to write? One that means the most you or your family? (We promise not to tell the others.)
Ha! I think Bunny's Book Club will always be closest to my heart because it’s my first book but also because I love libraries so much. It has been sincerely gratifying to spread book love with this story, especially when I get to visit schools.
Any upcoming projects you are working on that you can share a tidbit with us?
I’m very excited about my next book, Butterflies on the First Day of School, illustrated by Dream Chen and out in May 2019 with Sterling. I also just got F&Gs for Bunny's Book Club Goes to School, out in June - it is truly awesome to see Tatjana Mai-Wyss bring these characters to life again!
What fun! Having gone through a few book releases, readings, and school visits, do you have any advice for those just learning their book is to be published? (What will/did you do or try differently this time?)
Try to find the best balance for you when it comes to making time to write vs. making time to do marketing/promotion. I spent a lot of time planning for the launch of my first book and that was of course very exciting and nerve-wracking. It gets easier with subsequent books because you’ve laid that initial foundation, plus there is less of a learning curve. But it is still very time-consuming, so you have to work harder to protect that writing time.
Thank you, Annie for sharing a bit about your book and your journey with us.
Thank you for having me!
Be sure to stop back by on Friday for the #PPBF post on The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains.
To find out more about Annie Silvestro, or get in touch with her: