An Interview with Connie
When writing your book, did you have to rewrite the text to get published?
I never had to rewrite an entire text to get it published. My editor has asked me to make minor changes. A writer must always be mindful of producing quality writing no matter the genre; otherwise, it will be challenging to get the story published.
What is the best way to start a book?
Authors approach writing in various ways. I usually think of an idea that will appeal to children. Then, I map out the basic storyline. Afterward, I focus on the hook because that is the first encounter the reader has with the story.
What is the hardest part of the entire writing process?
For me, one of the hardest parts of the writing process is revising the story. Sometimes a writer may think they’re done once the story is written, but revision is an integral part of writing. Revising a story is where the author polishes the story before it is showcased. This part of the writing process must never be skipped.
Did you always know you wanted to be an author?
I did not! I went back to graduate school when I was in my early 50s to secure professional development credits as a Maryland Public School teacher. To complete the Master of Fine Arts program in Children’s Literature at Hollins University, you had to write a thesis with six children’s stories. Since I was from south Louisiana and my mother was Cajun, I entitled my thesis, The Cajun I Am. All six of my children’s stories were written about the south Louisiana French culture. The thesis was dedicated to my Cajun grandmother, who lived to be 103, and to my mother, who lived until she was 95. The Runaway Beignet was a story in my thesis and the first to be published.
How did you get published for the first time?
I wrote a query letter (a letter written to an editor showcasing the story you want published) and sent it to about ten different publishing houses in the country. Pelican Publishing Company in New Orleans responded and published The Runaway Beignet. Pelican also published Hercules on the Bayou and The Cajun Fisherman and His Wife.
How long did it take to write a book?
It took me about one year to write and revise each of my books.
Share your writing experience for one of your books.
Writing each book was a unique experience. My books are like my four children, each one is special. I am mindful of each part of the writing process when I write. I am always working for authenticity. When I write, I become my characters. For example, when I was revising Hercules on the Bayou, my husband came into my sunroom and heard me saying, “Take dat and dat wit ya blood-suckin pea brain.”
My husband laughed and said, “Hey Claude, if you need any help, let me know.”
Could you also address how you and the illustrator collaborated?
I have never met Herb Leonhard who is the illustrator of my books. In many publishing houses, there is no collaboration between the author and the illustrator. With that being said, I think the illustrations that Herb created are brilliant. The creation of the little beignet literally took my breath away!
Any advice for aspiring authors?
Being an author is not about fame or wealth, it’s about producing quality writing.