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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - VANESSA KEEL

I'm so happy to highlight fellow #BookBlastoff and #ClearForkPublishing author Vanessa Keel. I love Vanessa's debut picture book, BOOMER AT YOUR SERVICE (releasing October 15th!). And I enjoyed learning that two of my favorite dogs, Clifford and Lassie, helped inspire Vanessa. Read on for Vanessa's thoughts about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.

1) STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.

This is such a fun question to answer and one I really had to think about because I often don’t feel like my writing is that methodical. I get random ideas at the most random of times. I could be driving, in the shower, cooking dinner or trying to fall asleep and an idea will just pop into my head. I’m usually inspired by things that happen around me or on social media. I’m a new mom and I’m part of a lot of online mommy groups where people post funny stories about their kids all the time. That sometimes sparks an idea for a book.

Other times, I’m inspired by my own childhood and the things I’m passionate about. It’s no surprise my debut book, Boomer At Your Service, features a dog as its main character. I’m obsessed with dogs and I have been all my life. Two of my all-time favorite characters are Clifford and Lassie.

They left a lasting impression on me in my youth. When I was a kid, I also had a fascination with fairies and I’m working on a manuscript about a funny fairy right now.

I’m motivated by my own family, as well. I’m working on a manuscript inspired by my Italian heritage which features a young girl and her famous pizza-making father. This one has a special place in my heart.

I can say that with all of my ideas, I think about the marketability first before sitting down to write. Will it sell? What’s the hook? Are there additional opportunities for activities, social media ideas, curriculum alignments, a good cause, etc. If I can’t wrap my head around how my book can be marketed, I abandon the idea because it’s such a competitive space and I think to be recognized by an agent or publisher, you need to know why your book will sell.

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

I learned a long time ago that in order for me to be happy in life, I need to be doing something creative. Whenever I’ve gone through a period of time in which I felt off or down in the past, I realized I wasn’t doing anything that expressed myself creatively. When that happens, I often take up a new artistic hobby of sorts. In the past, I’ve painted wine glasses, taken art classes for fun, and taken hip-hop dance classes. I once started a Tumblr that featured photographs of my favorite doors. I love gorgeous doors!

In truth, writing picture books also came about during of a darker period in my life. I was feeling really depressed when I lost my Dad to cancer, and writing stories is what helped me get through the grief. It gave me something to do to help keep my mind off of being sad and it was extremely therapeutic. I realized I love writing so much that I turned my new-found passion into a new career.

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

I try to stay connected to the KidLit community in all the ways I can. I’m a member of SCBWI and I attend their conferences. I am a member of many online writing groups on Facebook including KidLit411 and the Children’s Book Academy Writing Community. I take writing courses, I’m a member of four different critique groups and I follow other writers and agents on Twitter. I also co-manage a debut author group called #OntheScenein19. You should check us out and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We post about our writing journey, tips, and so much more. Join us…we’re all really nice.

As far as connecting with young readers, this is new to me. My book is coming out on October 15th, and I’ve already lined up events at local libraries and stores so I can interact with my customers directly. I plan to do school visits, as well. I can’t wait to read my book aloud to children because I think seeing their reactions live will be the most rewarding feeling throughout this entire experience. It also scares the ***** out of me! But hey, writing books and putting your work out there is scary. If I can do that, I can face a few first-graders, right? EEEK!


Boomer At Your Service is Vanessa Keel's debut picture book. With over fifteen years of creative advertising experience, Vanessa writes with commercial possibilities in mind. She's an active SCBWI member, Children’s Book Academy graduate, and co-founder of the debut author group, #OntheScenein19. She lives in New Jersey with her British husband and boisterous baby boy. To learn more, please visit


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