Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tammi Sauer Interview, Part 2

Week of June 12: A Week with Tammi Sauer
Tuesday, June 14—Creating Great Books

This is the second installment in a four-part interview with picture author and the pride of Oklahoma, Tammi Sauer.

Rob: You have written a slew of fabulous picture books (with more on the way). In your opinion, what are the top five essential ingredients for a successful picture book?

      1. A character who is active, relatable, and flawed (A.R.F.)
      2. Tension
      3. The text and the art are equally important to the telling of the story
      4. HUMOR!
      5. Relatability

(Rob’s thoughts: Of all the authors I’ve interviewed, Tammi is the first to go out on a limb and make a list to answer this question. I’ll be using this list for future content on PICTURE THIS! We all need to up our game with these five essential ingredients.)

Rob: Everyone always wants to know where writers get their ideas. I want to know where you find your inspiration.

Tammi: When I do school visits, I love to share some humorous, weird facts about myself with the kids. I then tell them, “Celebrate the weird stuff in your lives. It’s great material for stories!”

Cowboy Camp, for instance, originated when a kid showed up at my house late one night. He was selling newspaper subscriptions in an effort to earn some money so that he could go to Cowboy Camp. Well, this kid didn’t look like a cowboy, act like a cowboy, walk like a cowboy, do anything cowboy. And it gave me the idea to write a story about a kid who goes to cowboy camp, he doesn’t fit in, he can’t do anything right, but he becomes the hero at cowboy camp anyway.

Another example? Mr. Duck Means Business stars a duck who goes a little haywire when the other barnyard animals mistakenly think they were invited for a swim in his otherwise peaceful pond. Mr. Duck is based on my Great Aunt Florence. J

(Rob’s thoughts: Here’s where your Writer’s Notebook comes in. As those events, thoughts, and weird things occur, record them in your Writer’s Notebook. Then you will always have inspiration at your fingertips.)

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

Tammi: My first book came out in 2005. I currently have four books published. In 2012, I will have five more.

(Rob’s thoughts: I counted that up on my fingers and that means nine books published in eight years.)

Rob: Besides picture books, are you also writing in other genres? If so, tell us about that.

Tammi: I am currently only writing picture books. If I come up with an irresistible idea, however, I am open to writing novels as well.

It’s Your Turn!
1. What weird stuff in your life can you celebrate and perhaps turn into a picture book?


Heathter said...

My kids are forever saying things that make me laugh... Meg-isms or Logan-isms, if you will. I always write these down because I know someday I will use them in a story.

For instance, my daughter calls convertible cars, "inflatables." Or she may say, "mommy, are you going to inhale a cab so we can go?"

Cracks me up!
*don't steal those!! LOL*

Rob Sanders said...

The language approximations crack me up! I have a senior adult friend who uses words incorrectly on purpose. For instsance, she'll say, "Oh, it's hot today and the humility is really up there!"

tammi sauer said...

Hi, Rob. :)

I thought I should clarify a bit. Many, many successful and wonderful picture books are not what a person would call humorous. Since I loooove reading/writing humorous picture books and since so many editors are after humorous picture books, HUMOR made my list.