A message from indieBRAG:
We are delighted that Charla has chosen to interview Michelle Eastman who is the author of, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tail, our medallion honoree at indieBRAG. To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion ®, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, A Fairy’s Tail, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.
What were your goals and intentions in this book, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
The goal for publishing my first book, The Legend of Dust Bunnies, a Fairy’s Tail, was to create a picture book for my son. Initially, I had no intention of publishing it for others to read. I just wanted him to have something special from me. Thankfully, the story became much bigger than that, and I am delighted with the way things turned out. Collaborating with illustrator Kevin Richter was a wonderful experience, and that experience led to book number two, Dust Fairy Tales: Absolutely Aggie.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
What most characterizes my writing is rewriting. I always begin with a legal pad and pen, and a messy, disjointed series of drafts. I cross things out, switch things around, and highlight pieces I like. When I feel I have most of the story fleshed out, I type the first draft on my PC. Then, it begins again. I write and rewrite over and over until I think it is ready to for others to critique.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Oddly enough, the hardest part of writing both of my books was creating the synopsis for the back of the book. I find it very difficult to sum up the entire story in two to three sentences.
What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
One of the things I enjoyed most about writing both books was creating the dedication page. It means a lot to me to be able to acknowledge the people I love who encourage my writing journey. Being able to acknowledge my son in both books was fantastic.
How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?
The idea for magical dust bunnies came to me in college when we were asked to write our own picture books for a children’s literature class. The two books I’ve subsequently written borrow from the original idea, but there is very little of that original story in either book.
The theme both of my books touches on is the desire kids feel to fit in or belong. Both books explore the struggle kids can experience with peer relations, as well as the joy that comes with embracing your own individuality.
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre?
Picture books are a passion of mine. I love to read old favorites and discover new titles. I consider it an honor to be a picture book author.
Where did your love of books/storytelling/reading/writing/etc. come from?
I have written and pursued creative arts throughout my life. Picture books have always held a special place in my heart. As a mom, reading to my son every night is a special tradition we still share (even though he’s now eleven).
How long have you been writing?
I have enjoyed writing since early elementary school, but I did not pursue publishing my writing until 2013. After researching agents and publishers, and submitting a few queries, I decided to explore independent publishing. For me, indie publishing turned out to be a great fit. Throughout my journey, I’ve connected with many indie and traditionally published authors, and I’ve gained a wealth of knowledge about the publishing business. At some point, I may pursue traditional publishing, but for now, I am happy with the flexibility and creative control I enjoy as an indie.
What inspires you?
Reading all of the wonderful contemporary picture books as well as discovering, and rediscovering, old classics inspires me. As a mom, educator, and author, I am also inspired to have an impact in my community. When I learned that nearly 2/3 of children living in poverty do not own books, I decided to make a difference. I created the literacy initiative, Picture Book Pass it On, to get books to children of incarcerated parents. Since 2014, we’ve collected more than 800 books for kids in need. You can learn more about it at https://www.facebook.com/PBPiO/
What do you like to read in your free time?
With an active eleven year-old, I don’t have a lot of free time. In my spare moments, I like to read short stories and historical fiction. I love accessing titles from my public library via Overdrive. It really comes in handy while waiting in the stands during long swim team practices.
What projects are you working on at the present?
I am working on an idea for a new picture book series, as well as a Dust Fairy Christmas Tale.
What do your plans for future projects include?
In the future, I see myself writing juvenile historical fiction. It’s a genre I loved reading as a child, and I am excited about all of the possibilities.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I have written stories and poems since childhood. Becoming an author has been a life-long dream. I feel fortunate to have made that dream into a reality.
How do you find or make time to write?
I am not as disciplined as I should be. I tend to be more of a binge writer. Once an idea is in my head, I write incessantly until it is complete. Once I am committed to publishing a story, I do not work on other ideas. I may jot other ideas down for later, but I am not good at multi-tasking writing projects.
What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
Well, kids ask some pretty intriguing questions. They may have covered most of them. One of the aspects of being a published author I like best is traveling to schools and libraries and speaking with children. I always wish that Kevin, the illustrator of my books, could be with me to answer questions. His art work is amazing, and kids are always interested in his process. Unfortunately, Kevin is in the UK, and I am in Iowa. So, the logistics don’t lend themselves well to joint author visits.