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Blog: This Writing Life


  • Writer's pictureMelissa Stoller

3 Question Interview - CANDACE SPIZZIRRI

I'm so happy to host my friend, the talented author CANDACE SPIZZIRRI, on the blog again. Read her previous interview here. Today, Candace is chatting about her delightful new picture book, FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE, which is illustrated by the brilliant team Chantelle & Burgen Thorne, and releases in April 2023 from Gnome Road Publishing. Candace shares about how a trip to Alaska and seeing a Moose in town inspired FINLEY, and she chats about stories . . . creativity . . . and connection.

Welcome back, Candace!

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 again, Melissa! I’m delighted to be here.

I find inspiration for stories everywhere! From quiet moments like taking in a spectacular sunset or hiking in the hush of a forest, to loud moments such as family get-togethers and spirited sports events, in daily routines and overheard conversations, and in extraordinary events and special celebrations like weddings, birthdays, and births.

I am especially inspired by my five grandkids. They are my muses. I pay close attention to their play and often ask what kind of story they like best or to tell me a story. And it’s amazing what they come up with. Many times, it leads to a new manuscript like the time my granddaughter, Skye, asked me to write her a story about the planets playing games together and she wanted it to match (aka rhyme, lol). I now have a picture book entitled Planets Play in rhyme that I hope to have published one day.

The idea for FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE came to me a few years ago on a trip to Alaska. I fell in love with the gorgeous scenery and while visiting the town of Talkeetna, a moose wandered about to the delight of tourists, then disappeared by the railroad tracks into the woods. In this quaint town, I happened upon a little shop called Once in a Blue Moose and the spark for Finley, a moose who longs to ride the rails, was


For my debut picture book, FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, the story inspiration came from fishing trips to Lake Hopatcong, New Jersey, with my beloved Grandpa Henry. Although it is truly a story about grandpa and me, I use my granddaughter Skye's name as the main character. This picture book is about the events of one particular day that is dear to my heart when grandpa had a special surprise for me.

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

I love the creativity involved in writing: from the spark of an idea that gets the heart racing to letting the imagination run free in getting down the first draft to finding the right words in the right order to create the strongest story possible.

Revision is my favorite part. I will read the text aloud over and over again, striving for a flowing, melodic manuscript. I pay attention to rhythm, rhyme, word play, alliteration, onomatopoeia, repeating refrains/phrases, and use of literary devices such as metaphor and simile.

Writing is not always easy but it is always worth it!

Other creative pursuits include poetry writing, cooking, crafting, decorating, and dancing.

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

I love sharing my books with kids everywhere! My hope is that my stories will entertain, delight, and make kids think about the world around them.

I stay connected to the KidLit community through membership in groups like SCBWI, 12 x 12 Picture Book Writing Challenge, Inked Voices, and Children’s Book Insider. I belong to three super supportive marketing groups: KidLitCollective, PB22Peekaboo, and BusyPBs and several amazing critique groups. Also, I love connecting with writers at conferences, webinars, classes, and on social media. The KidLit community is wonderful!

Thanks again for hosting me, Melissa. And thank you for all you do for the KidLit community!


Candace Spizzirri grew up in a small town in New Jersey with tree-lined streets and old Victorian houses. As a child, she spent hours playing at the park, catching minnows in a nearby stream, and exploring the woods at the end of her street. Passionate about education, Candace is a co-founder of an elementary and high school in southern California. She now splits her time between SoCal and Pennsylvania. Candace loves spending time with her husband, grown children, daughter-in-law, and five grandkids.

Candace's debut picture book, FISHING WITH GRANDPA AND SKYE, illustrated by Beverly Love Warren, published with Clear Fork Publishing/Spork on April 19, 2022. Her second book, FINLEY: A MOOSE ON THE CABOOSE, illustrated by the multi-award-winning team of Chantelle & Burgen Thorne, releases on April 18, 2023, with Gnome Road Publishing.



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