~by Amanda Smith
I have been following Miranda Paul's career for many years and celebrate along with her as her fifteenth book will be released this year. Her picture books inspire young readers to take care of the earth and one another. She invests generously in the kidlit community as founder of RATE YOUR STORY and co-founder of WE NEED DIVERSE BOOKS. Her generosity also spills over in other walks of life in local and international communities, where she invites others to come alongside her and spark change. I am honored to welcome Miranda to 24 Carrot Writing to tell us about her newest book-baby.
NINE MONTHS: Before a Baby is Born (illustrated by Jason Chin) released on April 23, 2019. You have said of this book, “My heart is full to have this very special book received with love. It's been in development for ten years, and I may cry upon its ‘birth.’” Please share with our readers the journey of NINE MONTHS and why it is so close to your heart.
Nine Months is the book I wanted when I was pregnant with my second child. Sometimes that’s why you write a book—the one you want doesn’t exist yet. While every day I was getting access to weekly updates on the status of my baby, where was the scientifically-accurate yet age-appropriate book for my two-year-old daughter who was as curious as I was about each stage of her new sibling’s development? And while there were plenty of great picture books about where babies come from or emotional picture books about how much love a new baby gets, I struggled to find one that struck the right balance between the two. It only took ten years, but Nine Months is exactly the book I wanted. The science of human life is as miraculous as the love families have for each other. This book compromises neither one, and it’s also a reflection of the diversity of our world’s families.
Your books are diverse in theme, yet many deal with social/environmental issues. Why do you gravitate towards telling these kinds of stories?
Diversity and environmentalism are important aspects of my life, and my work is an extension of who I am and what I believe. As a white woman, I am keenly aware of my privilege and how representation in society can elevate or diminish someone’s opportunities. On a more personal level as a mom, raising biracial, multi-ethnic children who are also nature lovers is my everyday joy and task. Having traveled, lived, and made friends with people in more than a dozen countries has afforded me the discovery that human beings are more alike than we are different, and that our planet is a superbly beautiful place worth protecting. All children need to be reflected in and honored by the stories we tell, and our planet should be given a voice.
You are such a prolific writer, and you do school visits and many other public appearances as well. How do you structure your writing time? Do you write on specific days or do you write every day?
I get this question a lot. Many people don’t know that I’ve been writing most of my life, so when I began in children’s books I had a body of work and experience writing for other kinds of publications. My structure isn’t exactly the same day-to-day (what working mother can say this? What person, for that matter?). But just as any other self-employed person I set schedules and have honed my self-discipline. I do most of my school visits in spring and fall, and therefore a lot of new writing and researching naturally falls in the winter and summer months. There’s no magic equation. Everyone who is an aspiring writer—even if you’re working another job (like I was when I began) or taking care of children or elderly—must find the motivation and momentum to fit the work into the “cracks of life,” to use a phrase I heard from writer Susan Manzke. You may not have entire days to write, but you might have snippets here and there. Enough snippets put together make a book.
Here at 24 Carrot Writing we are big on setting goals as a way to stay motivated and on task. Do you use writing goals to keep focused? Would you mind sharing your goals or 2019?
Just before my debut book One Plastic Bag released, I had a moment in which I knew I was exactly where I needed to be. The feeling was exhilarating; it’s hard to describe. So for the past couple of years, my goals have leaned toward enjoying the process and keeping on the same path. Of course, I also have personal goals for growth and pushing myself to try new things. Not all of them have to do with writing, which is what I find most meaningful. The more I work on having the life I want, the better I seem to be doing professionally. I get to write—and live—what I believe. Keeping that realness is at the top of my list of goals, because I hope it’s an inspiration to my children that exploring who you are, staying active in areas that matter to you, and developing your passions are all measures of success, regardless of the outcome.
What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share?
Remember that even though you may pour your heart into your work, ultimately you and your work are separated once it goes out into the world. A rejection or critique is about the words on the page—not you, personally. So yes, you can keep creating. Yes, you are good enough. And yes, your voices and visions matter enough to share. It’s really that simple.
Thank you for sharing your heart and wisdom with 24 Carrot Writing, Miranda.
New and Upcoming Books by Miranda Paul:
Miranda Paul is the award-winning author of One Plastic Bag, Water is Water, and I Am Farmer, all Junior Library Guild selections. Whose Hands Are These? was named a 2017 ILA Teacher's Choice and Are We Pears Yet? won the 2018 Award of Excellence in Children and Young Adults Literature from the Council on Botanical and Horticultural Libraries. Her most recent release, Nine Months: Before a Baby is Born, received three starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. Miranda Paul is an annual faculty member at the Highlights Foundation and a co-founding member of the nonprofit organization We Need Diverse Books, for which she currently serves as Mentorship Chair. Visit her at mirandapaul.com.
NINE MONTHS: Before a Baby is Born, as well as Miranda's other book are available at these retailers:
Barnes and Noble:https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/nine-months-miranda-paul/1129200776?ean=9780823441617#/
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