3 Question Interview - ANNETTE SCHOTTENFELD
I'm so happy to feature my friend, the talented kidlit author Annette Schottenfeld. She has TWO books releasing in 2021 - her debut, NOT SO FAST, MAX: A ROSH HASHANAH VISIT WITH GRANDMA (illustrated by Jennifer Kirkham, Kalaniot Books), will be on bookshelves this week! I can't wait to get my copy! Annette chats about how her family traditions inspired her book, and also shares about stories, creativity, and connection. Welcome, Annette!
STORIES – Discuss the inspiration for your ideas and stories, and share the process about your latest projects.
Thank you for having me on your blog. I’m thrilled to be included among the many talented authors you’ve interviewed.
Ideas for stories are everywhere. It’s all about keeping your eyes, ears and mind open, noticing the details, being present in your surroundings, and finding what makes you excited to write.
I’m constantly adding to my ‘Ideas List’. When I want to start writing a new story, I go to my list and have a wealth of topics to pull from.
The initial idea for NOT SO FAST, MAX: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma had been in the works for some time. When my kids were younger, they couldn’t wait to go apple picking each fall. Their Grandma would join us and, along the way, shared childhood memories of the Jewish holidays. Through the years, we remembered these special days and the traditions that grew from them. I became inspired to capture those treasured moments and share them with readers.
NOT SO FAST, MAX went through many versions and edits. Finding the right voice for each character, adding interesting details (such as the grandma, Savta, visiting from Israel), and providing interesting backmatter for those who want to learn more about Rosh Hashanah, were all part of the process.
One of the most exciting parts about writing is when everything comes together. You’ve molded your characters and lived with them for so long that when the story becomes an actual picture book it is truly magical.
CREATIVITY – How do you showcase your creative side through writing/illustrating and other pursuits?
I have many outlets for my creative energies. Opening-up my mind to possibilities, having fun, and stepping outside of the box helps fuel my writing.
Dance – One of my favorite things to do is dance. Learning choreography for hip hop routines requires focus. Each part of the dance must flow into the next, just like storytelling.
Baking – Creating new recipes and melding flavors is exciting. I participate in an elaborate holiday cookie swap each December. This has challenged me to step-up my game. Not only must the cookies look and taste good, but the display must also set the scene.
Mosaics – I search for china plates that can be recycled into mosaic creations. The plates are carefully broken apart and then re-arranged in a completely different way. This is similar to writing, where stories are edited and reworked until the parts fit together.
I love using this creative mindset when taking seed ideas and growing them into a story.
CONNECTION – How do you connect to your young readers through your writing/illustrating, and how do you stay connected to the KidLit community?
When I first began writing my children were little. We read lots of books at home and I volunteered to read in their classrooms. I also visited the children’s section of bookstores and libraries, where the staff and librarians shared what books were flying off the shelves. I learned what kids reacted to and what garnered laughs or “oohs” and “ahhs.”
Fast forwarding to my children being older and a pandemic, I attend as many virtual KidLit author visits as possible. This allows me to support fellow authors and see which books and techniques work best to connect with children. I want kids to love books. When my picture books are released, I hope to use all that I’ve learned to capture young readers’ attention and excitement.
My connections to the KidLit community have guided me on my journey towards becoming a published author. I’ve met so many interesting and intelligent friends and mentors along the way.
First, I joined SCBWI and my local SCBWI Long Island chapter. Then, I was lucky enough to find awesome critique groups. These became ‘my people.’ We pushed each other to become stronger writers, cheered on our successes, and were there to lift each other up when there was a bump in the road. I took classes, attended conferences, and joined social media platforms.
A course at the Children’s Book Academy with Dr. Mira Reisberg brought my knowledge of the book industry to the next level and led to my first book deal. I’m grateful to everyone who has been a part of my amazing KidLit community and aim to continue paying it forward.
Annette Schottenfeld is a children’s book author, registered dietitian, and expert baker. Apples can be found at many holidays in her home. She has written Not So Fast, Max: A Rosh Hashanah Visit with Grandma (Kalaniot Books, March 2021) and Obi’s Mud Bath (Spork – Clear Fork Publishing Summer 2021). Annette lives in New York with her husband and two grown children.
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