Jen: Please help me welcome children’s author Bobbie Hinman to Book Talk this week. Bobbie, will you please share a short bio with us?
Bobbie: I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and graduated from Towson University with a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. In the first stage of my writing career I was the author and co-author of seven successful cookbooks. Several years ago I decided to re-invent my ties with the teaching profession. Calling on my experience as an elementary teacher, along with the newfound joys of reading to my ten (yes, ten) grandchildren, I decided to turn my attention to the world of children’s literature.
I love the fact that my new career path has given me the opportunity to interact with so many children. I keep very busy doing presentations and teaching writing workshops at schools, libraries and bookstores. I have also been a presenter at a number of major book festivals around the country
Jen: Tell us about The Belly Button Fairy and where it’s available.
Bobbie: In September I will be releasing The Belly Button Fairy, the third book in my series of children’s fairy books. In this book a grandmotherly fairy flies through the skies in her rocking chair, carrying a ruler and a bucket of fairy dust. She is responsible for making sure that every child has a belly button, and that it’s “always in the middle”. This book follows The Knot Fairy (who tangles your hair while you sleep) and The Sock Fairy (who is responsible for missing socks). Each of my books comes with an audio CD of the story narration and an original fairy song. My main philosophy is, “Who better to blame it on than a fairy?”
My books are available in bookstores nationwide. If you don’t find them on the shelf, just ask for them. They can be ordered by any bookstore. They are also available on Amazon.com and on my website: www.bestfairybooks.com
Jen: At what age did you discover writing and when were you first published? Tell us your call story.
Bobbie: My love of reading and writing started when I was in elementary school. I grew up in what I call “The Golden Age of Libraries.” Without video games and electronic gadgets, we read! And we wrote! We communicated with friends and family by writing letters. Without the mega malls to attract us on weekends, we would hang out at the local library. Even today, if I close my eyes and really concentrate, I can smell the scent of my neighborhood library. In fact, library books today still have that same evocative scent.
In college, my love of books was taken to a new level as I took courses in children’s literature. Deep down, I think I knew then that I would someday write a children’s book. My first books were cookbooks, published in the 1980’s, however I don’t think I ever really considered that to be “real” writing. My first fairy book was released in 2007.
Jen: How does your family feel about your career?
Bobbie: My family is very supportive and my grandchildren are “off the wall” with excitement. They, along with a group of their friends, have formed the focus group that I rely on for honest feedback about my manuscripts. I have listened carefully to their comments and have even discarded one complete manuscript because the group didn’t like it. My grandchildren also sing in the chorus on all of my CDs. I hope that by being an integral part of this process they have learned that they can accomplish anything they want in life if they are willing to work hard and never give up.
Jen: Describe your writing in three words.
Bobbie: Child at heart.
Jen: Do you have a writing routine?
Bobbie: I wish I did. I’m one of those right-brained writers, always looking for a piece of paper to jot down an idea that has just popped into my head. I write when the ideas come. I’ve never been able to force it or write according to a schedule. My favorite routine is no routine.
Jen: What’s the most challenging aspect of writing? Easiest?
Bobbie: The most challenging aspect for me is dealing with the pressure of deadlines. The easiest is coming up with the ideas. I have many more ideas than I have time. Of course, that creates even more pressure.
Jen: What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Bobbie: There’s nothing as rewarding to me as watching the expressions on the faces of young children as I read my stories. Knowing that I can make them smile and believe in make-believe is the best reward a children’s author can ever hope for. I have to admit that winning fourteen children’s book awards has also been extremely satisfying. I feel like Sally Fields when she won the Oscar. “They like me. They really like me.”
Jen: How do you pick the character’s names?
Bobbie: My characters are easy. They are all fairies who are responsible for creating the bothersome little problems of our daily lives. They are simply known as the Knot Fairy, the Sock Fairy, and the Belly Button Fairy. I call them Knotty, Socky and Belly for short.
Jen: What five authors or people, from the past or present, have been important to you as an author? What question or comment have you always wanted to say to them?
Bobbie: I have always loved to write in rhyme and therefore there’s really only one author who has been especially important to me throughout my life. I have to say that, hands down, Dr. Seuss is the single most influential children’s writer in my life. I have loved his work since I was a child. To him I would say. “Razzle-de-daz and razzle-de-do! I just want to thank you for just being you!”
Jen: If The Belly Button Fairy was made into a movie, which actors would you choose to play the hero and heroine?
Bobbie: If the movie was animated, Betty White would have to do the voice of The Belly Button Fairy.
Jen: Most people only dream of becoming a published writer. Now that you’ve accomplished that goal, is there anything else you dream of doing?
Bobbie: My adult life has really gone full circle. I started my career as an elementary teacher. Since then I have trained show horses, written seven cookbooks, taught cooking classes and owned an antique business. Now I am back to doing what I love which is being with children. I think I am finally where I want to be when I grow up – a children’s author.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Bobbie: I have the ultimate fairy book in the works, but the title is still a secret. (Shhhhhhhh…)
Jen: Where can you be found on the web?
Jen: Is there anything you’d like to ask our readers?
Bobbie: If you could be any fairy at all, who would you be?
Jen: Readers, Bobbie is giving away 5 autographed copies of The Belly Button Fairy. To enter the contest, first leave a comment either answering Bobbie’s question or asking one of her. Then you must either leave your email address in your post or send an email to email@example.com. The 5 winners will be chosen on Sunday, August 30.
*** Sorry this is added a little late, but after a short discussion with Bobbie, the winners must live in the US due to shipping costs.***