For the past several years, my focus has been on writing poetry and picture books for children. However, one of my goals in 2013 is to develop some ideas for longer work — chapter books and middle grade novels. It seems daunting, though, and I thought it might help to talk with someone who has made the leap. So today, I am posting my very first blog interview with Gayle Krause. Gayle is a critique partner and friend who has published in many genres and is now celebrating the release of her YA book RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER, now available for the Kindle and coming soon in paperback. Congratulations, Gayle!
I just love the idea of this book – a retelling of the Pied Piper story. Listen to this synopsis: Sixteen year old Jax Stone is an expert at surviving in a dangerous city, where rats rival the homeless for food and shelter, but she’s an amateur at fighting the immoral mayor of Metro City, when he orders the kidnapping of her little brother. Desperation demands she quickly master the role of courageous opponent to steal him back.
When she discovers her singing has a hypnotic effect on rats and children, she uses her gift to outwit the tyrannical mayor. Disguised as a world-renowned exterminator, she barters with him for her brother’s freedom. To fulfill the contract she lures the rats to their death in the toxic river with her mesmerizing singing, in exchange for gold to pay passage for her brother and herself to the New Continent. But when the corrupt mayor reneges on their agreement, Jax has no choice but to stage another daring musical coup. This time, she leads not only her brother, but all of the city’s children to safety, with the help of a ragtag band of friends and a handsome stranger, who holds the secret to her past and the key to her heart.
Gayle, you are someone who writes across age ranges and genres of children’s literature. Give us a snapshot of your work.
My very first publishing credits were my kid’s poetry in children’s magazines. My picture book, ROCK STAR SANTA, was released in 2008, as an original Scholastic Book Club selection, and has proved to be a perennial favorite.
Of course, I’ve written a sequel and many more picture books, yet to be published. So while I waited for a second picture book contract, I started writing YA novels. I feel my writing voice is more YA than PB. Consequently the YA novels come easier to me. That’s why I only write rhyming pictures books. I have too many words in my head to tell a picture book story in 500 words or less. LOL!
April 2012 was a lucky month for me. I was offered contracts for three pieces of my writing.
- One for a sports poem, ‘Hail Mary Pass,’ in an international sports poetry anthology for kids (AND THE CROWD GOES WILD).
- One for The Storyteller’s Daughter, my version of the Scheherazade story, in Pugalicious Press’s YA Historical Romance anthology, titled TIMELESS.
- And for RATGIRL: Song of the Viper, my first full length YA novel, to be released in February, 2013 from Noble Romance – Young Adult, the Sweetheart Line.
You write books for both the youngest and oldest readers in the kidlit spectrum. What draws you to these two age groups?
My previous career was teaching. I trained prospective teachers at the secondary and post-secondary levels. (Thus the YA connection.) During this time, I also directed a Laboratory Pre-K, where I supervised the students preparing and teaching lessons to the children. (The Pre-K connection.) I write what I know best.
What resources or writing classes have helped you make the leap from being a picture book writer to writing longer work?
I don’t believe you can be taught how to write a successfully. You either can do it, or you can’t. I might even say it’s an inherent gift. I’ve read many resource books and tried various prompts, but ultimately I count on my imagination and my awesome critique group, The YA Wonderwriters.
Also, seminars at SCBWI conferences help tremendously.
As a picture book writer, I love that I can sit down and write a rough draft in an hour or two. It’s hard for me to even see where to start with drafting a novel. Where do you begin? Any advice?
Well, there are two types of writers, as you know. Some outline the entire story before they begin to write a word. (The Plotters.) When they do write it’s almost like a second draft because they have predetermined where the story is going.
Then, there are those that write from the heart, and just keep going until the story is out, becoming surprised as they write, as if they’re reading someone else’s novel. (The Pansters – writing by the seat of their pants.) Of course, they have a lot more revising to do.
So, you either do the work first, or last, depending on what kind of writer you are.
Tell us a bit about your revision process for Ratgirl: Song of the Viper.
Ratgirl started as a NaNoWriMo attempt three years ago. Everything that I had in my head came pouring out, but it made my revision process daunting. I had to find the beginning of the story twice. I would say I wrote five revisions, the last two passing through my critique group. It was the last version they critiqued that was offered a contract.
How has this been similar to or different from your process with Rock Star Santa?
ROCK STAR SANTA RATGIRL
1. picture book 1. YA novel
2. 32 pages 2. 200 pages
3. rhyming couplets 3. Prose fiction
4. no critique group 4. 4-member critique group***
5. final revision took 1 day 5. final revision took 2 weeks
Do you work on picture book manuscripts concurrently with your YA work, or do you find that you need to be completely immersed in one age group (or one work) at a time?
Daytime is for the heavy, intense schedule of writing YA, specifically mornings. I find I wake with fresh ideas to insert into the story. Evenings, after supper, are for critiques and/or picture book writing. I especially turn to picture book writing once a YA novel is complete. It’s like a freeing exercise for my brain, because rhyming uses a different part.
What’s next for you, Gayle? Will you stick with YA? Write another picture book? Or maybe something in between?
My brain is always churning out ideas for both. But, at this point, I believe I will be polishing and submitting my MG ‘fractured fairy tale’ poetry collection titled, ONCE UPON A TWISTED TALE.
Thanks for stopping by, Gayle. Where can we find you?
If your readers go to my website: www.gayleckrause.com they can click on my books and be directed to the online purchasing site. There, they can also access information for First Peek Critique, my rhyming PB service.
My blog is thestorytellersscroll.blogspot.com.
RATGIRL: SONG OF THE VIPER is available for the Kindle and will soon be released in paperback.