Author Interview with Jennifer Mahal
I’m happy to interview a kids books author this time around! Jennifer Mahal is the author of cute alphabet book “All Hallow’s ABC”. Thanks for answering my questions, Jennifer!
1) When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
As far back as I can remember, I’ve loved stories. As little kids, my sister and I used to make up plays and perform them for anyone who came along. That said, I didn’t really come to the conclusion that I wanted to write for a living until high school.
2) What was your inspiration for writing All Hallow’s ABC?
My daughter. There was a day in September 2012 that I was supposed to take for writing. Instead, my daughter got sick with a cold-flu thing. I took my frustrations at not working on my novel and channeled them towards doing something fun with the kid — coming up with Halloween words. She got bored quickly, but I was having a good time with the words and rhymes. One thing led to another and before I knew it, the book was born.
3) I read at the back of your book that most of the illustrations came from a font! That’s so creative, to see a font and then turn it into a kids book. Will your other books be like that as well or not?
For “All Hallow’s ABC,” the writing came first. Then I started looking for a way to illustrate it. I stumbled upon the Evilz font and it occurred to me that I could take the characters there, change them and build set pieces for them — sort of like playing with paper dolls. Working with the font as a starting place gave me a lot more confidence as an illustrator. (To be fair, I spent half of my career in newspapers designing front pages and feature packages as well as writing… so I had some experience.)
I did all of the illustrations for my next book, “Mommy is a Worrywart,” myself. They’re done in a completely different style than the ABC book. But having created something in that modern style, I might co-opt it for a future book’s illustrations. It depends on the book.
4) How long did it take you to write All Hallow’s ABC?
A week to write and illustrate. It was like I stuck my finger in a socket and electricity poured through my brain. I was on fire. I’ve never had that happen before. I doubt it will ever happen again.
5) What are your writing goals for 2013?
Oh, so many. Finish a draft of my novel. Write a draft of the new children’s book that has my attention, about dinosaurs. Finish a draft of the short beginning reader stories I started working on, featuring characters I tell my kid about. I have more goals than time to do them all.
6) What is the most challenging part about writing kids books?
Not having enough time!! Actually, my kid is the hardest audience. She has opinions on everything. She’s convinced that when I sell books, I’m somehow giving away her copy. It’s a hard concept for kids, the idea that you can make something and share it with others without your copy going away.
7) What is your favorite page from All Hallow’s ABC?
Wow, that’s a hard one!! The kid in me loves the tutu-wearing ghost of “T is for the Tutu….” The adult in me is super happy with the house in “B is for a ghostly Boo!” Then there’s the writer in me, which is just satisfied I managed to get Q in there.
8) Are you working on something right now? If so, can you tell us more about it?
I’m in layout with my latest book, “Mommy is a Worrywart.” It’s inspired by — who else — my kid, who thinks I worry too much when she plays. The book is told from the perspective of the child, who has this “ugh, really” attitude about her mom’s anxieties. There are space aliens and sharks in the book, which gives an idea of how silly it can get. It should be out by the end of the month.
I’m also working on writing a request from my child. She wants a special book about dinosaurs in rhyme. It can’t be in prose, has to be in rhyme! Between all the Sandra Boynton and the Dr. Suess we read her, I should not be surprised.