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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - ANITA CRAWFORD CLARK

I am so excited to feature debut picture book author/illustrator Anita Crawford Clark on the blog today. Anita's new picture book, OLD TO JOY, published by Gnome Road Publishing, released September 5, 2023. Anita chats about her inspiration, including childhood experiences and visits to her grandmother's home, and shares about

stories . . . creativity . . . and connection. Welcome, Anita!

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

So many of my stories come from my own experiences as a child growing up in the 70’s and 80’s. I love exploring nature and especially the creek near our home. Another source of ideas comes from my love of history. I love infusing history in as many stories as I can. This is what I did for my Masters project for my MFA in creative writing (emphasis in screenwriting). We had to write a full-length screenplay of a movie. Since I also love time travel movies, I wrote it from the perspective of a time traveling teen who ended up meeting up with the Tuskegee Airmen (Redtails) during WWII. I’m working on adapting that screenplay to a graphic novel. The inspiration for Old to Joy came from the many visits to my grandmother’s home. However, it was the summer of 2020. That long, long Covid summer. During that summer I started creating new art. That new art became part of the storyline of Old to Joy which I first wrote in 1998-99. Part of that process meant learning to illustrate digitally on my iPad Pro, what I had created traditionally with pastels and collage on paper. It was a tremendous challenge, and the illustrations took much longer than is usual. But it was well worth the extra effort. I’m certain my next book will have less of a learning curve.

2) CREATIVITY -- How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits? Ahhh. Yes. Creativity comes easily to me. I’ve been creating works of art as long as I can remember. My parents encouraged my creative endeavors even when I sometimes destroyed my mother’s nice things to create new things. I showcase my creativity through my writing and illustrating of children’s books. I showcase it through the musical theater productions I direct each year at the school where I teach. Another way I showcase my creativity is through music. I direct the school band and choir. I also love to play the piano, drums and banjo – my favorites! 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 connect with young readers by creating as many additional ways for them to engage with my books as possible. I create with them in mind. I try to channel my inner child and see through childlike eyes. What’s important to them? What makes them laugh, cry, think? What will encourage them to care about others, our planet, animals, etc.? I stay connected with the Kidlit community through social media, writing events such as Big Sur, SCBWI conferences, and other events. I also connect by making it out to as many author bookstore readings and book signing events as I can in support of other authors. My critique group is phenomenal. They really helped me get Old to Joy in tip-top shape. But one group that was most instrumental in signing my first book contract was Black Creators HQ. During the summer of 2020, I saw one of their Twitter posts and reached out to join their group. They brought in agents, editors, authors, and illustrators to share best practices to help members reach their publishing dreams. These sessions were incredibly informative, especially during a time when the world seemed out of control. The entire Kidlit writing community is absolutely the best. I love and appreciate how much we support one another. Just like your hosting me on your Blog. People caring for each other and helping each other succeed. Amazing!


Anita Crawford Clark is a writer and illustrator of fiction and nonfiction books for children. Anita grew up chasing butterflies and fishing crawdads from a nearby creek during scorching Sacramento summers. Her stories and illustrations often reflect those memorable childhood years. Anita is an inaugural recipient of the SCBWI OMA (Out from the Margins) Award for her manuscript of debut picture book, OLD TO JOY , which released on September 5, 2023. A veteran K-12 teacher, Anita especially enjoys directing musical theatre productions. The athlete in Anita enjoys shooting hoops. The musician in her enjoys playing the drums, piano, and banjo. Anita draws inspiration from her faith, nature, music, history, and everyday life.


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1 Comment

Laura Roettiger
Laura Roettiger
Sep 26, 2023

I’m excited to learn more about Anita and how many creative outlets she has! Amazing!! Congratulations, Anita and thank you, Melissa.

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