Meet Phaea crede, debut #picturebook author

Phaea Crede

CAROL GORDON EKSTER: Your debut picture book, JET THE CAT (IS NOT A CAT) Barefoot Books, comes out May 1, 2021. I was lucky enough to be one of your critique buddies on an early draft. It’s a hilarious story that teaches us to celebrate our differences and embrace our unique identities.

Please tell us the story behind this story.

PHAEA CREDE:

Jet and her love of swimming was inspired by my mom’s cat Eddie, who is obsessed with baths. Since loving water usually goes against everything cats stand for, I tried to imagine what other cats might think if they caught Eddie happily splashing around. I figured another cat (named Tom in the story) would look down on Jet, maybe even tell her she wasn’t a real cat if she liked water.

When I was writing about Jet’s journey, I realized I was also writing about my own. I’d always loved to write but because I have dyslexia, writing was always a struggle. Somewhere along the way I had internalized that “real writers don’t have dyslexia”. I grew out of that idea when I was in my late 20s, but thought it applied perfectly to Jet’s dilemma.

CGE: The art is so adorable, so perfect. How did you feel when you saw the first sketches? Did you have any correspondence with the illustrator, Terry Runyan?

PC: I agree! Terry’s Jet is better than I could have ever imagined. When I first saw the sketches I’m sure I shed a few tears. She was so perfect! Terry and I didn’t speak at all during the process but we’re good friends now!

CGE: Tell us your journey into becoming a children’s author.

PC: I started my creative journey as a stand-up and sketch comedian. I learned eventually that performing was not for me, but I still loved that short-form comedy story structure. Once I started reading picture books to my son Harvey, I realized how similar they were to comedy sketches. You find a quirky character and throw challenges at them! That started me down the road to being obsessed with picture books and trying to write my own.

CGE: Do you only write picture books and if so, what draws you to that genre? 

PC: I do only write picture books (for now)! But I believe I always will because pictures books are the perfect story telling medium. An entire story in 32 or 40 pages! What a bargain! And they are for everyone! They connect generations with each other through reading times. They are beautiful. And they smell great! The picture books I read when I was a kid still live in my heart and probably made me who I am today.

CGE: Can you tell us a little about your writing schedule and process?

PC: I am a morning writer and try to get up before my kids are awake. When I have a new idea, I write it down and then try to read as many books as I can that might be similar. Then I analyze those books. From there I like to make lists of different versions of a character and different ways the story could play out. When I’m happy with that, I write a “terrible first draft” and try to empty my brain onto the page, ignoring grammar or good writing. Then I revise with the help of my critique group!

CGE: Have there been any unexpected or surprising aspects of having your first book published?  

PC: How much better manuscripts get when you work with an editor. Editors are story geniuses and I’m so grateful when I get to work with one!

CGE: How are you dealing with the marketing side of becoming an author? 

PC: It’s been such a joy because of my awesome promo group 21 for the Books! Sometimes I worry I’m not doing enough, but Barefoot Books has been amazing and I think Jet will have a very warm welcome to the world on publication day!

CGE: What advice would you give new writers that helped you break into children’s publishing?

PC: Read 40-50 picture books a month! Also, remember that publishing is a business and not personal. As long as you keep improving your craft and learning more about the industry, you’ll make it!

CGE: What does the future hold for Phaea Crede? 

PC: The pandemic has been a killer for both writing time and creativity. That being said, I do have a brand-new project to announce soon. I’m also hoping to write some really weird stories soon about sea monsters. Crossing my fingers and tentacles that I can pull it off.

CGE: Thanks, Phaea! Can’t wait to see your next book.

You can connect with Phaea here:

Website

Twitter

Instagram

FaceBook

Goodreads

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