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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - VIVIANE ELBEE

I can't wait to get my copy of author Viviane Elbee's adorable debut picture book, TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI (illustrated by Danni Gowdy). I met Viviane through #EPIC18, the group of debut picture book authors and illustrators, and I'm thrilled to feature her on the blog today. Here are her thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.

STORIES – Discuss what inspires your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

Anything can spark an idea – maybe it’s something you see or hear or even a strong emotion. For example, if you see the kids making their stuffed animals ski, you might think, “there’s a story in this.”

I jot down my ideas on my phone – often it’s just a few words. Turning these idea nuggets into stories takes a lot of thought and brainstorming. It can take months or even years to figure out how to take an idea and turn it into a story. Sometimes I combine several ideas into a story. It also helps to have critique partners. Sometimes they will comment on an aspect I hadn’t thought about, leading to new ideas.

Learning continuously is also part of my writing process. To help myself improve I watch webinars and go to conferences and take online classes. I enrolled in Arree Chung’s Storyteller Academy, which offers six and twelve week courses on the craft of storytelling & picture books. Classes about craft can help inspire and motivate.

CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?

Trying to come up with unique and original ways to write a story takes a lot of creativity.

Other creative pursuits I like include arts & crafts. I’ve made all sorts of things from blankets, to bedside tables, to vases and scarves. I love listening to music and looking at paintings and photography.

I also believe that being outdoors and being active helps open your mind to creativity.

CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?

I usually write with children I know well in my mind, asking myself if they’ll connect. I hope that readers will feel a connection to my stories.

I am a member of 12x12, SCBWI, Epic 18 and several critique groups. These groups have taught me a tremendous amount about the craft of story-telling, about industry trends and best practices, and about perseverance through tough times. The kidlit community is supportive and encouraging, and I’m grateful to be a part of it.


Viviane Elbee is a multi-cultural children's author creating fun books for fond memories. When not writing, Viviane has all kinds of adventures with her family, both at home in the Carolinas and abroad. She loves being outside, traveling, hiking, biking, gardening and reading. When skiing, she keeps her eyes open for giraffes on the ski slopes because she’s sure she’ll spot one someday.

Her debut picture book, TEACH YOUR GIRAFFE TO SKI, comes out in November 2018. Her work has also appeared in Highlights High Five magazine.


Instagram: @VivianeElbee

Pinterest: Viviane Elbee

Facebook: Viviane Elbee


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