The Picture Book Buzz - Interview with Lisa Varchol Perron plus Giveaway
Lisa Varchol Perron is a children’s author and poet whose work has been featured in numerous anthologies, journals, and magazines.
In addition to being an author, Lisa works as a psychotherapist with specialized training in child and adolescent development. She holds graduate degrees from New York University and UC Berkeley and now lives outside of Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and two young children.
Lisa's the author of Patterns Everywhere (2023).
For more information about Lisa, see our earlier interview (here).
Her newest board book, My Love for You, releases on tomorrow.
Welcome back Lisa!
Thanks for having me again, Maria!
My pleasure. What was your inspiration or spark of curiosity for My Love for You?
My Love for You was inspired by a wonderful day at the beach with my kids. Afterwards, one of my daughters said she wished summer could last forever. We started talking about all the things that change or come to an end, and we agreed that change is tough! Then we discussed the idea of love being a constant when everything around us is in flux. That night, I started writing the first draft of this manuscript.
Such a great inspiration. How long did it take from the first draft to publication for My Love for You?
The whole process took a little less than three years. The first draft basically poured out, but I went through various revisions with my critique partners over the course of a few months then waited to submit it until I signed with my agent. It’s coming out about a year and a half after I accepted the offer from Little Simon.
How different was the drafting and revising of My Love for You than your process working on your nonfiction debut book Patterns Everywhere? Did you discover anything which will help with future books?
Since My Love for You is fiction, it didn’t involve all the research required for Patterns Everywhere. Another difference is that I had to cut a few spreads from My Love for You to make it shorter because I wrote it as a picture book, but it was acquired as a board book. With Patterns Everywhere, I actually added content since the formatting ended up allowing for two more spreads. I learned that it’s much easier for me to add than to cut it at the later stages, but I’m happy with how both books turned out!
Cutting can be so tough. Is there something you want your readers to know about My Love for You?
As a psychotherapist, I’m interested in early childhood attachments and how they affect us well into adulthood. So while we might call this an “I love you” book, it’s really about secure attachment—an enduring emotional closeness that helps kids feel safe in the present, establish self-esteem and empathy, and prepare for difficulties that lie ahead. When we internalize a secure attachment in childhood, we continue to experience that love throughout our lives.
Interesting. It is so important to have such an attachment in early childhood. What has been the most rewarding part of the publishing process for My Love for You?
The whole process has been a joy. It has been especially rewarding to get to work with the same amazing editor at Little Simon on multiple projects at the same time, since we were simultaneously working on two nonfiction board books together.
Wow! Did anything surprise or delight you when you first saw Sheryl Murray’s illustrations for the first time? Which is your favorite spread?
Text © Lisa Varchol Perron, 2023. Image © Sheryl Murray, 2023.
Every spread delighted me! I was struck by how Sheryl captured the tenderness and joy in the parent-child relationship. It’s hard to pick just one favorite, but I especially love the movement in the spread where the seagull swoops down to steal a snack.
What was the hardest, or most challenging part of writing My Love for You? Is fiction or nonfiction easier to write for you?
Nonfiction is harder in that it’s more time-consuming for me, but sometimes the facts provide an inherent structure, so in that way it can be easier than fiction.
In writing My Love for You, the biggest challenge was creating enough of an arc since it’s a slice-of-life story without an involved plot. I worked to build in moments of tension—like the seagull stealing food from the picnic and the precious sand dollar shattering on the floor. It was also a little tricky to convey the passage of an entire day in only ten spreads, but Sheryl’s wonderful artwork captured that beautifully!
I think you both did a great job. Are there any projects you are working on now that you can share a tidbit with us?
I’m looking forward to my next two board books with Little Simon—Tell Me About Space (October 2023) and Tell Me About Oceans (Spring 2024), nonfiction STEM books illustrated by Jennifer Falkner. It was fun to consider the questions young kids might have about outer space and Earth’s oceans and to then create a dialogue with a grownup, who offers rhyming, fact-filled answers. Jennifer’s illustrations are gorgeous!
These sound like really fun board books. Last question, what is the best advice you’ve ever gotten - whether it’s regarding writing or not ?
I remember a teacher once advising, “Stop looking at the size of the mountain and just start along the trail.” It helps me when I feel stuck or overwhelmed by a writing project, and it helps me approach the dirty dishes on the counter! [😉 -HA!]
Thank you so much Lisa for coming back to talk with me and sharing your sweet book.
It’s my pleasure! Thanks for having me back, Maria.
Be sure to come back Friday for the Perfect Picture Book Post #PPBF on My Love for You.
To find out more about Lisa Varchol Perron, or contact her:
My Love for You Giveaway
Awesome news! Lisa is offering one lucky reader a copy of My Love for You.
- Simply comment below (or on the Friday #PPBF post - or both) to be entered in the random drawing on May 12th.
Be sure to say where (if) you shared the post (Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram), and I'll add additional entries for you.
- *Sorry US Residents only.*