3 Question Interview - AMALIA HOFFMAN
I'm thrilled to feature my friend and fellow Book Meshuggenah, author/illustrator Amalia Hoffman. Her adorable new picture book, MASHA MUNCHING, released on March 1, 2022 from Yeehoo Press! Amalia discusses the inspiration behind the animals in her new book, and chats about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Amalia!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
Inspirations for my stories come from the most random places. Sometimes, it’s something I read about in a paper or magazine I pick up while waiting on line in the supermarket. I take long walks and rest on a rock by the long Island Sound, close my eyes and think about my characters. Sometimes, I remember a dream or an event that happened to me as a little girl. I grew up with two sisters and I was the middle child. We shared one room and made up stories that we whispered to each other when Mom and Dad thought we were asleep. Growing up in Israel, we didn’t have a TV so we spent our time inventing our own shows and creating a puppet theater. My latest story, Masha Munching, was greatly inspired by the summers we spent in a little village where farmers raised cows, chickens and goats. We would stand by the gate and laugh when the goats tried to nibble on our cloths. I was also inspired by the many trips I took with my kids to the petting zoo.
It took about 2 years from the time I started writing Masha Munching to the time Yeehoo Press acquired it. The story started as a tale about a goat with a voracious appetite that ends up in a French Bistro. Working with Yeehoo Press editor, Brian Saliba, we later decided to add other farm animals to make the story more versatile and feature Masha’s relationship with the pigs and ducks in her community. We also added a snobbish penguin waiter wearing a bowtie.
CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I actually feel creative even when I’m not working on my books. I like dressing up in cloths that are kind of different from what I see in big stores. I love shopping in thrift stores, and adding jewelry, buttons and ribbons. I love to give parties where I have the opportunity to make fruit turkey for Thanksgiving and fruit Menorah for Hanukkah. For over 20 years, I worked as a visual merchandiser, creating window displays for major retailers in NYC as well as Mom & Pop stores. So I have cool props that I use to decorate the house. I also love being with kids, making up stories, puppets and art projects. When writing and illustrating my books, I try to stick to my own creativity rather than changing my style to be more commercial.
CONNECTION -- How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
Before the Pandemic, I presented my stories to kids in libraries, schools, bookstores and community centers. I traveled to California, Florida, Atlanta, Chicago, and many places in New York, Brooklyn, New Jersey and Manhattan. During the Pandemic I shifted to Zoom presentations and had the opportunity to Zoom with a school in San Francisco and San Diego and do a Zoom book launch that included people from the East and West coast, as well as Israel. I’m beginning to go back to in person presentations and meet kids and parents. For each story I write, I create props and puppets so instead of just reading my books I also act the story, like a play. Often, I include an art and craft presentation. Kids love that and I can do it in person or on Zoom. I also have free giveaways on my website, www.AmaliaHoffman.com, such as games, coloring pages and recipes. Visitors can also watch my book trailers, and a video of me reading Masha Munching at https://youtu.be/spZHpZ89Wfc. And, this is a link to a teacher’s guide which also contains fun facts about goats and coloring pages
I used to make connections in conferences where I’ve met incredible people and befriended many of them. I do join online conferences but I feel that it’s harder to make new friends in this setup. Nowadays I make connections mostly through social media and joining kidLit groups.
Amalia is an author, illustrator and storyteller.
My Monsterpiece (Yeehoo Press) is the winner in the 2021 Next Generation Indie Book Award Picture book (Ages 0-5)
All Colors (Schiffer Publishing, 2019) is one of School Library Journal best board books, 2019.
The Brave Cyclist (Capstone Publishing, 2019, illustrated by Chiara Fedele) is a
Junior Library Guild Gold Selection and a Bank Street College Selection Book.
Dreidel Day (Kar-Ben Publishing Group, 2018) is a PJ Library book and received the PJ Library Author Incentive Award
She’s also author/illustrator of Astro Pea (Schiffer Publishing, 2019.)
Masha Munching (Yeehoo Press) will launch on March 1, 2022.
Two other board books, Hanukkah Nights (Kar Ben Publishing) and, My Hands
Make the World (PJ Library Press) will also launch in 2022.
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