I met Kristine a couple of years ago at one of the NESCBWI kidlit meet-ups she organizes. She is a sweet special lady who feels passionate about writing and SCBWI. If you attended the SCBWI New England Regional Conference earlier this spring, you know Kristine Asselin as well. With the conference behind her and her first picture book just out, I thought this a perfect time to hear from her and a great first interview for our newly formed children’s writers and illustrators’ blog. Enjoy!
Carol Gordon Ekster: You were co-chair for the NESCBWI conference this year. Tell us about your experience and how you’re feeling about being the director for next year. Do you have a high and a low you can share with us?
Kristine Asselin: I loved being the co-chair this year–I had a great experience working with Joyce Shor Johnson and I feel like we put on a fabulous conference along with a lot of support from volunteers. I’m psyched going into next year being the lead chair–our theme is Create Bravely: Make Your Mark. It’s going to be all about taking risks and stepping outside your comfort zone. I think my high this year was just being on the stage and looking out over the ballroom at 600 people, and knowing that we’d organized a great experience for them. No lows!
CGE: How did you get into writing non-fiction for educational publishers? Did you get to choose the topics?
KA: I started writing nonfiction for the school library and educational markets about five years ago–to date, I’ve written fourteen books ranging from biographies to science to American History. An editor usually calls or emails me and offers me a topic. I have the choice to accept or decline, sometimes I’m offered a choice between several topics in a certain series. A couple of times I’ve done two titles simultaneously. Writing nonfiction is really different from fiction–it’s sort of a left brain/right brain thing for me. But it’s been great for my confidence as a writer to have the chance to work with incredible editors and be associated with quality products.
CGE: When did you begin your writing career?
KA: About nine years ago, when my daughter was a toddler, I stopped working full-time. I had just taken a half-time job and wanted to combine my love of books and reading with being the parent of a toddler. I started writing picture book texts. After a couple of years of nibbles but no real bites on my picture books, I started dabbling with longer stories for older kids. I found that my natural voice is more middle grade and young adult–I’ve had a couple of YA short stories published, but still working on getting my novel out there.
CGE: Your first picture book, THE WORST CASE OF PASKETTI-ITIS, recently came out. How has that experience been different than your previous publications? Tell us a little about this story’s journey from an idea to publication.
KA: This book was written during the time I was writing picture book texts when my daughter was very small. She was (and still is) a picky eater, so the story of a girl who only eats pasta to the point where she turns into a big blog of spaghetti wasn’t far from the truth. I heard about small press 4RV Publishing about three years ago, and it seemed like they would be a good fit for the story. They accepted it–and it’s out this month (June 2013).
CGE: Did the story affect your daughter, who was the inspiration for this book?
KA: She’s very excited about being the inspiration for the book. I was afraid it might embarrass her, but she’s still young enough to be thrilled.
CGE: Tell us a little about how you structure your writing life?
KA: This question makes me chuckle, because I’m not sure I’d call my writing life structured. Between real life, work, conference planning, and promoting WORST CASE, I haven’t had too much time to write lately. I try to make time each week for myself–for either revision or writing, but sometimes it’s hard to get into the flow when you’re not committing time on a daily basis. When I’m under deadline for a nonfiction book, I’m writing at least three nights a week, and usually while my daughter is doing homework. However, it’s easier to procrastinate my own self-induced deadlines. I’m working on getting better at it.
CGE: What do you find to be the hardest part of writing?
KA: I love the revision part–sometimes it’s the getting-the-first-draft-down-on-paper part that’s hard for me. I struggle with accepting that the first draft is usually crappy.
CGE: You write MG, YA, short stories, and picture books. Do you favor one genre over the other?
KA: At this point, I definitely don’t consider myself a picture book writer. I LOVE writing middle grade and YA.
CGE: What’s in the future for Kristine Asselin?
KA: I hope to continue to be privileged enough to keep writing–or even just to get back to forward motion on my works-in-progress! For the next year, I’ll be super involved in NESCBWI, planning the 2014 conference. I also just joined forces with a few fellow-writers to start a blog called http://www.sportygirlbooks.blogspot.com. It’s for girls who love sport and who love to read. Thanks for having me on the blog, Carol!
Find out more: http://www.kristineasselin.com/
Kristine’s new book can be found here: http://www.kristineasselin.com/pasketti-itis.html
Connect with Kristine here: