Publishers' Preview: Spring 2020: Five Questions for Angela DiTerlizzi

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2020 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2020, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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1. Stories in rhyme are very tricky — who’s your role model? 

I have three — two are authors and one’s a cowgirl. Dr. Seuss is my go-to inspiration for imaginative, playful poetry, and Shel Silverstein’s quirkiness and humor make me laugh out loud. As for the cowgirl, I am a huge Dolly Parton fan. Her storytelling, connection to her audience, and heartfelt emotion are touchstones for me.

2. How do you make yourself practice (whatever it is you need to practice)?

Though I’m not learning to ride a bike or play an instrument, I’m always practicing my skills. I practice being a better mom, wife, friend, cook, writer, listener…and I’m always practicing patience. I start by asking: “Am I excited about my endeavor? Am I curious to learn more? Why does it matter to me?” Then I remind myself that my accomplishments were earned by many hours of trying, missing, and learning.

3. Ever had a dream that looked like Lorena Alvarez’s illustrations?

I’m such a huge fan! Unfortunately, my dreams are nowhere near as vivid or imaginative as her gorgeous illustrations.

4. Do they call you a cockeyed optimist?

Wow, a South Pacific reference! I love a musical. I’m more a pragmatic optimist. I’m hopeful, yet sensible. I dream and imagine brighter possibilities. I try to approach challenges with positivity. Optimism is an attitude — it’s choosing to believe the future will be better. I’ve always seen the bright side of things — anyone who’s seen the sequins and glitter in my wardrobe would agree.

5. What’s the one thing you can’t do — yet! — that you’ve been at the longest?

You said stories in rhyme are tricky, but for me, they’re much easier than prose. I hear the verses and refrains. I feel the rhythms and beats. So, one thing I haven’t done yet is write a story not in rhyme. I have a few in the works, but that’s where practice comes in. As Dolly said, “You’ll never do a whole lot unless you’re brave enough to try.”

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Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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