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The Picture Book Buzz

The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Amber Hendricks

Born and raised in the Midwest, Amber Hendricks grew up reading everything she could get her hands on- including the morning cereal boxes. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Merchandising, with an emphasis on Visual Merchandising, from Northwest Missouri State University.

Amber has worn many hats in her career: Army wife, Mother, Visual Merchandiser, Certified Pharmacy Technician, and most recently, Childcare Professional. But she has always circled back to her first love of telling stories. She currently resides in Missouri with her husband and two children.

She's the author of Sophie and Little Star (2018) and Extraordinary Ordinary Ella (Feb. 2020).

Her newest picture book, Superheroes Don't Babysit, releases June 2nd.

For additional information on Amber, see our earlier interview, on February 24th, 2020 (here).

Welcome back Amber! How exciting that your third picture book Superheroes Don’t Babysit releases next week! You've been on a roll this year.

Thank you so much for having me back. I can hardly believe it and can’t wait to share my newest book with everyone!

ME: So, how was the creation of Superheroes Don’t Babysit different from Extraordinary Ordinary Ella and Sophie and Little Star?

AMBER: It was an incredibly different experience! I’m used to meandering first drafts and rounds of revision, but the text for Superheroes Don't Babysit poured onto the page in about thirty minutes. It was the fastest I’ve ever drafted a story and the text remained mostly the same from first draft to submission!

That must be so cool when that happens. What was the inspiration for Superheroes Don’t Babysit?

I grew up in a family of four kids, and as you can imagine, we had our fair share of squabbles! I also did my fair share of keeping an eye on my little siblings. But at the end of the day, siblings are built-in best friends and I wanted to capture that love.

And if not best friends, definitely fellow conspirators against the parents. Is there something you want your readers to know about Superheroes Don’t Babysit?

That not everything is how it appears. Those experiences you dread or just don’t have time for? They may be the best things that ever happen to you.

I think this message and book are coming out at just the right time! What is your favorite spread or illustration that produced an “ah ha” moment?

Seeing art for the first time is always a special treat for authors. We spend so much time with the story in our minds that it is exciting to see someone bring our words and characters to life.

I was absolutely delighted with Kyle’s addition of comic book style panels, especially in the spreads where Dad and our Superhero square off in a staring contest, she discovers where the stinky smell is actually coming from, and when she works through her anger. I couldn’t have asked for a better illustrator for this story!

Kyle Reed did a great job capturing the superhero feel. Do the rejections get any less as time goes on? What about the number of revisions - do these vary depending on the manuscript or do you find they get fewer as you publish more books?

Oh goodness, no! And no again. I wish I could say they did, but every project is different and has its own set of unique challenges. It seems like I forget how to write every time I sit down to draft a new story idea. *grin* But I think as time goes on, writers learn to deal with rejections/revisions more objectively.

Here's hoping you're right. Can you give us a “sneak peek” into your upcoming two board books - Forest Friends Sleep (Little Nature Explorers) and Autumn Leaves Fall (Little Nature Explorers)-which release August18th? [Psst - here's a peek at the covers, too!]

I would love to! Both books (and the next two in the series) grew out of Vivian Kirkfield’s wonderful 50 Precious Words contest. They are written in sparse, rhyming text (my first rhymers!) and follow adorable forest friends exploring the changing seasons and getting ready for their long winter’s nap. Gavin’s dreamy illustration style is the perfect fit! In Autumn Leaves Fall, Gavin hid the bunny from the cover in each spread as a fun surprise. This is my second collaboration with Amicus Ink and I couldn’t be more pleased!

They look lovely and I am looking forward to reading them. Are there anyother projects you are working on that you can share a tidbit with us?

I’ve just gotten to see early colored sketches for the next two board books in the Little Nature Explorers series, Butterflies Soar and Wildflowers Grow (out Spring 2021)! In the same sparse and rhyming text, little readers can explore the life cycles of butterflies and wildflowers.

What have you learned from your journey so far?

Never give up! My favorite movie as a kid, The Goonies, had a motto that has stayed with me through my adult life: Goonies never say die! I try to live by that motto every day, especially on the days I receive a rejection or can’t seem to quiet my inner editor. I also try to remember that publishing is not a one-size-fits-all industry so I shouldn’t gauge my success against the successes of others.

Great advice, Amber. I might have to hijack that motto. Thank you so much for coming by to talk with me Amber. It was a pleasure spending more time with you.

Thank you again for having me and for sharing Superheroes Don’t Babysit!

To find out more about Amber Hendricks, or get in touch with her:

Maria Marshall

 Photograph © A. Marshall

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