I mean, seriously, IS your buffalo ready? Reading Audrey’s book may be the only way to find out! Pub date: June 22nd, 1 week from today! (Illustrated by Daniel Jennewein, published by Balzer & Bray / HarperCollins.)
I happen to know that this lady is VERY funny. Smart and funny. Fall off your chair funny and lie on the floor in awe smart. And did I mention kind? I found just how warm and kind when I saw this:
Audrey and her sister pay tribute to an African American folk artist and his life. Finding, researching and writing his story was quite an effort (not that they minded) and is a lovely story in itself.
But wait! There’s more! In a mere 4 months, Audrey has another book coming out, this one about BASEBALL:
SHE LOVED BASEBALL: THE EFFA MANLEY STORY is coming in October — for fans of baseball, smart women, civil rights, and the human spirit!
Now, on to the interview . . .
Kathy: Tell us why we should buy this book.
Audrey: It’s really hard to determine, without professional help, when your buffalo IS ready for kindergarten. Consider this book your professional help.
Kathy: :o) How do your ideas come to you?
Audrey: For picture books, I’ll usually catch myself saying something that feels like it has some weight. For example, I was flying on a budget airline a year ago and the seats were so tiny and squished together that I said that the airline should be used only by babies. And that led to a picture book I recently finished writing, BABIES IN SPACE. For novels, usually a few different ideas come together, and it seems like they could work together and be interesting to explore. That’s what’s brewing now for my new novel–it will be a process of discovering how some mostly unrelated ideas intersect and interact.
Kathy: (See what I mean about funny? And smart?) How long have you been writing?
Audrey: I’ve been writing since college, a very long time. I began by writing literary short fiction, until I realized that the big payoff there, after 50 or so submissions, was getting published in a literary magazine only other writers of literary short fiction had heard of. As an added bonus, more often than not, you were paid not in dollars, (and I rather enjoy dollars!), but in free copies of the magazine.
Kathy: What are you working on now?
Audrey: A few things. I’m revising a picture book called BOGART AND VINNIE. I’m about to begin my pre-publication revision for an upper middle-grade/lower young adult novel, WATER BALLOON, which Clarion will publish next year. And I’ve started a new novel with the working title LIKE LIFE BUT FUNNIER.
Kathy: OK, that last one is so YOU, Audrey! Is there a sequel to IS YOUR BUFFALO READY FOR KINDERGARTEN?
Audrey: There is! TEACH YOUR BUFFALO TO PLAY DRUMS comes out next year.
Kathy: How much of your book is autobiographical?
Audrey: Very little.
Kathy: Really? 😉 What / who gives you spiritual guidance and inspiration?
Audrey: Books and family, but probably in the opposite order. Most days.
Kathy: Why should kids read books when there are so many other things to do?
Audrey: I wouldn’t presume to tell a kid, other than my own, what he or she should do. But I can honestly say that I remember the literary characters I met in my youth and teen years with a kind of keen affection I don’t feel for the characters in the TV shows I watched (sorry, Gilligan).
Kathy: What’s an embarrassing story about yourself that you don’t mind telling?
Audrey: May I just summarize by saying it has something to do with my skirt falling down when I was right up at the stage at a Springsteen concert when I was 17?
Kathy: Sounds like another story . . . now, for some just plain fun questions: Tea or coffee? Flavor? Milk or sugar?
Audrey: This makes me sound like a 1970s housewife, but coffee with milk and Sweet & Low.
Kathy: Favorite season?
Audrey: Every season except winter. (Until a few years ago, it was summer, but I have come to appreciate the charms of fall and spring.)
Kathy: Favorite comfort food?
Audrey: Diner French toast.
Kathy: Food you’d rather starve than eat.
Kathy: Cat or dog?
Kathy: Flats or heels?
Kathy: Natural fibers or synthetics?
Kathy: Jeans or fancier?
Kathy: Short hair or long?
Kathy: Ideal vacation.
Audrey: Sun, good food, Yankees game on the road (or spring training), beach
Kathy: Favorite board, card, or computer game?
Audrey: I seem to have a mild addiction to computer Scrabble
Kathy: Favorite sport or form of exercise?
Audrey: I walk with my excellent dog, Rookie, four miles most days. But my favorite sport is baseball. (I cannot play, but I love to watch.)
Kathy: Some favorite books?
Audrey: ROXABOXEN is one of my favorite picture books. And DON’T LET THE PIGEON DRIVE THE BUS. And NEW SOCKS. And BIG RABBIT’S BAD MOOD. And I’m always happy to reread the GEORGE AND MARTHA books. I’m also sort of awed by the nonfiction picture book THE DAY-GLO BROTHERS.
My favorite middle-grade novels are EIGHTH-GRADE SUPERZERO and ALL ALONE IN THE UNIVERSE, though I’m always happy to reread HARRIET THE SPY, too.
The best YA I’ve read in a long time is THE SKY IS EVERYWHERE.
In the adult realm, I’m a big fan of Lorrie Moore’s short fiction. I read a lot of memoirs, too, but this is getting way too long.
Kathy: Great choices. Some favorite movies?
Audrey: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD is my all-time favorite. I do a pretty good imitation of the face Scout make when she has to wear a dress to school.
Kathy: Same here! Well, the movie part, not the Scout-in-a-dress impression, but I’d like to see how you make that face.
If you’d like to see Audrey’s face, her books, and more about her, you can visit her at http://www.audreyvernick.com/ Thanks for coming by, Audrey!