Monday, March 14, 2011

How Margie Got Started

Week of March 13—A Chat with Margie Palatini
Monday, March 14—How Margie Got Started

This is the first installment of a four-part conversation with author and illustrator, Margie Palatini.

Rob Sanders: Margie, thanks for your willingness to be part of PICTURE THIS! I will learn tons from what you share and I know others will, too. If memory serves me correctly, Piggie Pie! was your first published picture book. I remember hearing an interesting story about that manuscript being in your attic for a while. How did you finally get it published? Was it a slush pile submission? A contact through a conference? An agented submission?
Margie Palatini: Yes, Piggie Pie! was my very first picture book—and the story behind it—(yes it did bake in an attic for almost fifteen years), along with some of the original black and white sketches by Howard Fine from our book dummy are on my blog at, so please check it out.

RS: Besides picture books, you also publish in other genres. Tell us about your other writing and why you ventured into those publishing arenas.

MP: After receiving a rejection letter early on (for Piggie Pie!), which said: "You shouldn't write picture books" . . . I listened. I didn't. I don't think I wrote a picture book for at least ten years. However, I did write mid-grade and tween novels, and had four published years before Piggie Pie! ever came out, so those other genres are not really new to me. I do enjoy writing humorous mid-grade and early chapter books. I'm also experimenting right now with a few graphic novel concepts and ideas.

RS: Give us an idea of the scope of your writing. How many books have you published and over what period of time?

MP: Piggie Pie! was published in the fall of 1995, and even though it was extremely successful right from the start with starred reviews and strong sales, it was not easy for me to sell my second manuscript. That was a very frustrating time, I can tell you. But then came Moosetache which opened the door to Zak's Lunch, Ding Dong Ding Dong, Zoom Broom, Bedhead, The Web Files, and all the others. I've been fortunate to have had (I think) about forty books published. Most of them have been picture books, but there have been some novels as well.

RS: You have written a slew of fabulous picture books. In your opinion, what are the top five essential ingredients for a successful picture book?

MP: Gosh, I really have no idea what is 'essential'. I just try to write a good story with (hopefully) some memorable characters and great dialogue. (Okay. That looks like three!) But, really, I'm not sure there is a 'recipe' for a successful book. Certainly not one recipe. Inventive authors and illustrators, I feel, are always trying to change it up, mix it up, spice it up in different way with each new project. If there are 'rules' out there, someone will eventually break them and create something new and exciting in the process.

COMING TOMORROW: Good Advice and the Creative Process

It’s Your Turn!
2. Go to your closest library or book store and get better acquainted with Margie Palatini’s books. Trust me, it will be as helpful as attending a conference and lots of cheaper!


Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Great interview Rob and Margie! I'm so glad I caught your Tweet!

Rob Sanders said...

Thanks, Sharon! Keep coming back for more!