Welcome Laura, and congratulations on the publication of your debut picture book, PORCUPINE’S PIE!
How did you come to be a children’s book author?
I’ve always loved to read, but it wasn’t until I taught third grade and used picture books as teaching texts across the curriculum that I decided I wanted to try my hand at writing. I was fascinated by how a 32-page illustrated book could encourage, inspire, or inform. I was hooked!
Can you share the inspiration for PORCUPINE’S PIE? Was there a particular reason you chose a porcupine as the main character of your story? And do you enjoy baking?
I was inspired by Tammi Sauer’s post during PiBoIdMo 2014 (Now Storystorm, hosted by Tara Lazar), which challenged writers to frame a story as a How-To Book. My brainstorming that day included this jot in my notebook: “How to make porcupine pie (or a pie for a porcupine)”. Even though it did not evolve into a How-To Book, that was the humble beginning of PORCUPINE’S PIE!
Since the title came first, I think it was the alliteration of Porcupine’s Pie that spoke to me, rather than there being a particular reason that a Porcupine became my main character.
I do enjoy baking and the idea that food brings people together was an important theme for my story.
I got serious about writing for children in 2011 when I joined SCBWI. I’ve written about 90 stories and received approximately 120 rejections since I started tracking them in 2015. I wrote my first draft of Porcupine’s Pie in 2014, won the Beaming Books Picture Book Writing Contest in 2016, and am holding it in my hands and sharing it with kids in 2018. A long journey, but well worth it!
In terms of your writing process, do you plot before you write or are you more of a pantser?
Both! For Porcupine’s Pie, I brainstormed a few possibilities for the plot since my idea started with the title. But as I drafted, I veered off my plotted path and came up with a much better story.
What do you love most about being an author?
Connecting with kids and being a small piece of the puzzle that gets them excited about reading and writing. And being part of the amazing kidlit community.
What is the most challenging part of being an author?
What were some of you favorite books as a child?
I was going through my childhood picture books recently and rediscovered Panda Cake by Rosalie Seidler. It struck me how similar the title is to Porcupine’s Pie! That book must have planted a story seed in my head long ago.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver
A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness
We’d love to know what you’re working on now. Any projects coming up?
I’m pleased to share that my next book, a nonfiction picture book biography about Mister Rogers will be published in Fall 2019 by Atheneum. It is called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers, illustrated by Brigette Barrager.
I always have multiple manuscripts in progress. Some of the ones I’m working on now involve robots, rabbits, and puppets.
What advice would you give to writers out there in the query/submission trenches?
If you are serious about getting published, do everything you can to improve your craft, build your personal kidlit community (i.e. critique group), and, importantly, cheer others on. Once your stories are the best they can be, submit, submit, submit! Compile a list of agents and editors you’d love to work with. Track your submissions. Celebrate your rejections. (It means you’re getting responses!) For most people, it takes years to connect with the right agent or editor for your work. Be determined. Be persistent. Be in it for the long haul.
Where can people learn more about you and your book?
You can find me on the web at laurarenauld.com and on social media:
Twitter - @laura_renauld
Facebook – @kidlitlaura
Instagram - @laurarenauld
Thanks so much for sharing your experiences with 24 Carrot Writing, Laura!
Laura Renauld is a former third grade teacher who now spends her days imagining and creating. When she is not writing picture books about porcupines, pirates, and pickles, Laura can be found on a trail, at the library, or in the kitchen. She lives in Northern Virginia with her husband and their two story-telling sons. This is her debut picture book.