Pat Zietlow Miller knew she wanted to write books for children since she was 19, but didn’t actively pursue her goal until she was 39. Her debut picture book, SOPHIE’S SQUASH, won the Golden Kite Award and was chosen as an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer honor book and a Charlotte Zolotow honor book. Pat has seven other pictures books under contract.
For what age audience do you write?
I write picture books for children ages 3 to 7. (Although I think picture books are perfect for all ages!)
Henry: Agreed. Good picture books, like a good dessert, work both for kids and adults.
Tell us about your latest book.
WHEREVER YOU GO came out April 21 from Little, Brown. It’s my second book, and it’s a lyrical poem.
Henry: Good for you. I often tell folks that writing good rhyme is hard!
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
On the surface, it’s a book about traveling and the joy of the open road. But … I wrote the book with my oldest daughter’s upcoming high school graduation in the back of my mind. Underneath the basic story, is all the love and advice I hope she’ll carry with her to the next stage of her life. In a nutshell, the message is: “Life is not a straight path to the destination you hope to reach. There are hills and valleys. Twists and turns. Unexpected detours. But there are always options if you don’t like where you are. And the journey – the journey – is wonderful.
Henry: And thus, the path to publishing a book is also a metaphor for life.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
Finding the time to do it. I have a full-time job and two busy kids, so I’m usually writing late at night or in odd bursts of time. There are never enough hours. Lately, I’ve been writing on a laptop with a very dim screen because I just haven’t had the time to take it in to be fixed. I’ll have to at some point, but for now I’m muddling through.
Henry: But the fame and fortune of being a picture book writer make it all worthwhile. Right? *crickets*
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
You are rarely done when you think you are. Your story can almost always be made significantly better if you’re willing to work on it. Having this kind of tenacity can pay off in other areas of your life.
Henry: SO true! I think my books are done half a dozen times before they are. Tenacity and PATIENCE to revisit one’s manuscripts are important disciplines.
Read the rest of this interview at Henry’s blog on KidLit, Fantasy & Science Fiction.