Our newest author spotlight is on the talented Andrea Zimmerman. Andrea is a fellow SCBWI member and the hostess for our local Picture Book Party here in San Diego. She is generous with her time and a great inspiration for us all.
Here is a brief bio:
Andrea Zimmerman was born in Ohio and grew up in New York, Utah, and California. As a child, she loved exploring nature and reading comic books. As a teenager, she loved riding her horse. She went to college, got a degree in Fine Arts for Children, and started writing. Later, she went back to school at UCLA and became a dentist. She enjoys her family, going to museums, gardening, and traveling. She also likes her cats.
WOTS: What was your road to publication?
AZ:My mother had published some magazine articles as a young woman and encouraged me to be a writer, too. Since I liked art, picture books seem to be a natural.
WOTS: Can you tell me a bit about your writing process? Do you plot or not?
AZ: Basically, I purposely daydream with the intent of coming up with a story. I form a pretty clear idea of the beginning, middle and end before I write it down. Of course, sometimes it changes in the rewriting.
WOTS: Are you working on any new projects that you can tell us about?
AZ: As far as new work, I think it’s better to keep stories quiet, until you get them finished, so the magic doesn’t evaporate. But I have some picture book in various stages of readiness and some I’m sending out.
WOTS: Describe your studio or usual work space for us.
AZ:Well, my space tends to migrate around the house. Right now my desk is in the dining room and my computer is in the bedroom. These change depending on what else is happening around our house. For the real creative part, I like lying down on the bed or couch.
WOTS: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
AZ:I hope to avoid any other professions! I’ve had different jobs, and I worked in dentistry for years. My kids are grown and I love the freedom I have now to set my own schedule. I want to just do the best I can at making books for children.
WOTS: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?
AZ: People often say I seem calm and confident. I’m not.
WOTS: You write and illustrate books with your husband David Clemesha, how to you share the workload?
AZ: I usually write the story and David points out what doesn’t work and makes suggestions. With illustrating, David does the line drawings, and I point out what doesn’t work and make suggestions. We blend our ideas, and agree a lot, though it’s a long, slow process for us. Then I paint the colors, which is time consuming, but pretty straight forward. We have been enjoying picture books together since we first met, decades ago, so it’s part of our marriage.
WOTS: Your book “Eliza’s Cherry Trees” is a bit different from some of your other books, what inspired you to write a book about Eliza Scidmore?
AZ: About ten years ago, I read an article about Eliza. I thought she should be getting more recognition for bringing the cherry trees to Washington and for her other accomplishments. She was an outstanding woman for her times. It seemed like a perfect tale for a picture book because it was an interesting story, and because of the women’s history and multicultural aspects.
WOTS: You mention in your blog that “Eliza’s Cherry Trees” took persistence to get it published. Can you share some of the difficulties you experienced and how you over came them?
AZ:I used Eliza as my role model for persistence since it took her 24 years to get the trees to Washington. I wrote the book, tried to get a publisher and couldn’t. I put the manuscript away, waiting until the hundredth anniversary was approaching. I started sending it out again, had offers that fell through, and just kept trying. Eventually I sold it, but it was rejected many, many times. I think it was harder to sell because although publishers may say that they do not want books on famous people who have been “overdone”, it may be challenging for them to take a chance on someone less well known, but with a great life story. They may wonder if there will be a market for the book. But I think Eliza will be relevant every Spring, when the cherries bloom again in Washington.
WOTS: We here at Writing on the Sidewalk tend to procrastinate with our writing, where do you fit in Procrastinator or Proactive?
AZ: I invented and perfected procrastinating.
If you would like to learn more about Andrea be sure to check out her website and her Picture Book Party blog. Andrea was recently interviewed about her book “Eliza’s Cherry Trees” on the NPR program “Here and Now,” select the “Listen to the Story” button to hear the interview. To learn more about Eliza Scidmore, check out Andrea’s great resource site here.
Thanks Andrea, for taking the time to visit with us.
Writing on the Sidewalk