An Interview with the Amazing Valerie Bolling
Valerie is an amazing writer. She has created many wonderful books that are not just read but allow children to get involved with the story. Valerie’s gift isn’t that she is a writer, but she’s a fabulous teacher. She devotes her time to everything kidlit. She works hard not only to help children, but also writers to be their very best. I am so honored to know someone as brilliant as Valerie Bolling!
Dani: What was/were your favorite book or books as a kid?
Valerie: I loved books as a child. The books that were read to me as a young child – usually by my great-aunt, Lucille – were Frog and Toad, Curious George, Amelia Bedelia, Charlotte’s Web, James and the Giant Peach, and The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. As I got older, I began to read these books on my own as well as Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, the Betsy, Tacy, and Tib series, and books by Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume.
None of these books are about BIPOC children or written by BIPOC authors. Fortunately, I still enjoyed reading, but I’m immensely aware of the importance of diverse books for young readers. Children, especially those who are marginalized, need to see themselves in books. And children who are often highlighted and validated in books – and in society – need to see and learn about the experiences of those who are different from themselves.
Dani: Congratulations on having so many books coming out! Is there anything you did as a pre-published author that helped you get here?
Valerie: I think the most significant thing I did as a pre-published author, Dani, was continue to write. That way, I had a number of manuscripts that were polished and ready or close-to-ready for submission when I signed with my agent, James McGowan.
Dani: When you pitched your first books, did you want these stories to be a series, or is it something that just happened?
Valerie: When I wrote Let’s Dance!, it was a stand-alone book. Later, however, I thought about writing a book about the games children love to play and about musical instruments from around the world, which were similar to Let’s Dance!. When I signed with James, he helped me reimagine these stories, and they are now Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! (Abrams 2022) and Bing, Bop, Bam: Time to Jam! (Abrams 2023).
Together We Ride was also not intended to be a series, but Chronicle bought two books, so I knew I’d need to write another that would be a sequel. They suggested I write a book about swimming, which is how Together We Swim (Chronicle 2023) came to be.
Dani: Ride, Roll, Run: Time for Fun! is a fun rhyming story. What challenges did you have (if any) writing a rhyming book?
Valerie: I actually feel very comfortable writing in rhyme. I’ve written in rhyme since I was a young child, so there’s something natural about it for me. That said, the biggest challenge is to make sure the rhyme is tight. It also has to tell a story – share an experience – that’s engaging to the reader.
Dani: Where do you go from here?
Valerie: I plan to keep writing, and, hopefully, will have more books published that children and adults enjoy. I will continue to give back to the kidlit community as a mentor and presenter for conferences and other writing communities. And I plan to continue teaching picture book writing classes. I have a lot to do to keep myself busy!
Get Valerie's New Book!!!
RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! written by Valerie Bolling, Illustrated by Sabrena Kadija.
Get this amazing book here: https://valeriebolling.com/ride-roll-run.html
Karen Yin is absolutely amazing. She is the founder of many fabulous writer resources. Karen has created Conscious Style Guide, Editors of Color, Diverse Picture Books, and AP vs. Chicago. Her debut picture book, “Whole Whale“ is a wonderful story about animals working together and making room in their world for something huge. “Whole Whale” is one of my favorite books on my bookshelf right now. I don’t want to miss out on Karen’s fabulous new book, SO NOT GHOUL Illustrated by the wonderful Bonnie Lui. I can’t wait to get this absolutely gorgeous book onto my bookshelf. (I will probably also read it to my kids.)
This absolutely gorgeous book will arrive on AUGUST 2, 2022!
About So Not Ghoul:
On her first day haunting a new school, all Mimi has to wear are old Chinese gowns from her great-great-great-great-great-ghost-grandmother. She wants to look horrifying and rattle chains with the cool American ghouls at school, but her ghost ancestors insist she dress and behave like a good Chinese ghost. Desperate to fit in and find a middle haunting ground between her cultures, she plans a ghastly new look. But she questions whether her haunt couture is a fabulous fright or a grave mistake when her family finds out, and another ghoul at school appropriates her Chinese fashion.
This ghoulishly playful ghost story offers a boo-tiful reminder that while sometimes school and family can make you feel invisible, bicultural pride never goes out of style.
PREORDER SO NOT GHOUL TODAY!
I just ordered my copy, now it’s time for you to preorder yours!
Preorder at any of the links below:
Preorder a signed copy of So Not Ghoul: https://www.vromansbookstore.com/book/9781645675570
It’s an absolutely amazing picture book that you’ll treasure for years to come!
I am lucky today. I get to interview the amazing Sylvia Liu today! I’ve known Sylvia for some time now and am so excited to get her new book Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation. I just preordered it (check out the pre-order swag at the bottom of this post! Sylvia is a co-founder of Kidlit 411 an excellent resource for children’s writers and illustrators!
Besides being a writer Sylvia also is an amazing artist. She creates such beautiful and fun illustrations. She had art in the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art New Waves 2012 exhibit; and art and infographics in Huffington Post, Oceana, and World Wildlife Fund! Sylvia is represented by the great Jennifer March Soloway at Andrea Brown Literary Agency!
Dani: Is it easier or harder for you to write a novel than a picture book and does the genre affect the difficulty?
Sylvia: Picture books and novels are very different beasts, but both are hard in their own ways! Writing picture books is like writing a poem, where every word matters, plus you also have to have great characters and a story, all in a few hundred words.
Writing novels is like putting together a complex 3D puzzle with moving parts. For me, genre doesn’t affect the difficulty as much as the theme, plot, and audience. For example, my middle grade contemporary, Manatee’s Best Friend, has a more straightforward plot and is geared for the middle of middle grade, while my sci-fi, Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation, has a twisty plot and is geared to upper middle grade. For those reasons, Hana Hsu was more difficult to write.
Dani: Do you have any fun rituals around writing?
Sylvia: I’m a very visual person, so when I plot my books, I like to draw graphs and put sticky notes on a poster board. This is my plot chart for Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation (don’t look too closely, or you might see some spoilers!). I listed all the chapters/main scenes on outside of the arc and included themes or internal character arcs on the inside.
Dani: What inspired you to write Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation?
Sylvia: I love science fiction in all media, and the cyberpunk subgenre in particular, so when I started writing middle grade, that was the type of story I was drawn to. The idea of a girl finding out about a corporate conspiracy against her classmates whose brains are about to be connected to the multiweb, came from reading about companies like Cambridge Analytica using people’s online data to manipulate us.
Dani: What kind of research did you have to do for this story, or was most of it based on already learned experiences and ideas?
Sylvia: After I came up with the premise, I did some research about the science of connecting brains to the Internet and came across some studies on mice. It wasn’t until after my story was under contract that the news about a certain billionaire’s efforts to do the same came to light. As I built the world, I would find cool research that supported my ideas (like bioluminescent trees). I also consulted with my sister to understand genetic editing.
Dani: What’s next for you?
Sylvia: I’m working on a Chinese myth-based fantasy that I’m excited about!
Hana Hsu and the Ghost Crab Nation Pre-order Campaign
Sylvia Liu has a preorder a campaign going on right now. Get the awesome swag in the image above!
BONUS: 20 lucky pre-orders will get a stunning 10×8 inch fine art print by Kathryn Ault Noble. You must submit proof of purchase (or proof of library purchase request) to be eligible for this gift.
Get a Signed Book: https://bit.ly/HanaPBks and get swag plus a signed book!
Pre-order Campaign: http://www.enjoyingplanetearth.com/pre-order-campaign.html (go here to get your swag after buying the book!)
Order from the Publisher or Anywhere Else Here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/669649/hana-hsu-and-the-ghost-crab-nation-by-sylvia-liu/ (You’ll get a book plate with the swag!)