Today’s post is the part of a trifecta with Mr. Schu and Nerdy Book Club. Be sure to check out those two posts. I’m sure they’re awesome.
This isn’t the first time I’ve had the privilege to interview a Newbery Honor winning author on my blog. Each time I have one of these amazing opportunities I feel like the luckiest guy in the world. I’m not really sure how I found myself in this unique position, but by-golly I I’m loving this ride.
I’m super excited to share today’s interview with Ms. Engle. Be sure to check out Orangutanka. It’s pretty awesome.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about the Orangutanka?
Orangutanka is the story of a family of orangutans, told entirely in tanka poems. It was inspired by a visit to a wildlife refuge in Borneo, where I was fascinated by a grandma and granddaughter who climbed down from the trees to people-watch. I was especially impressed by the young female orangutan’s acrobatics, which resembled a dance. The illustrations by Renee Kurilla are incredibly PERFECT! I really hope Orangutanka is fun for children, but I also hope the scientific note at the end helps adults become aware of the need to preserve their rain forest habitat.
2. What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I love the actual process of researching, writing, and re-writing, especially poetry. On a good day, it’s a peaceful, magical, satisfying experience.
3. What’s the hardest thing about being an author?
The hardest part of being an author is waiting. We spend months or years writing, then we have to wait for acceptance or rejection, wait for editing, copyediting, illustrations, design, printing, and reviews. The only way to survive all that waiting is to start the next manuscript.
4. If you could spend one day inside the world of any book which book would you pick?
My favorite book is A Woman in Her Garden, by the great Cuban poet, Dulce María Loynaz.
5. What advice do you have for the young writers in my classroom?
I would advise young writers to read, read, read, then turn off all gadgets, go outdoors, stroll, and enjoy nature. Watch, listen, inhale scents, and wait for an idea. When an idea arrives, write the first draft with a pen on paper, so words can flow directly from the heart, through the arm, and out of the fingertips. Don’t try to make it perfect, because changes can be made later.