Dani: How does being a librarian affect your writing?
Bobi: Working with kids on a daily basis is golden! I get to see what nonfiction topics are piquing their interest, and what kinds of stories are most popular. I hear how kids at different ages speak to each other, what kinds of issues concern them, and I see what really hasn't changed since I was young. It's like having research come to me.
Dani: What's it like working for the Institute of Children's Literature?
Bobi: I've enjoyed teaching for ICL for some 15 years. Seeing how students do (or do not!) follow formatting directions gives me an idea of what slush piles look like and why a properly formatted manuscript stands out right away. It is hugely gratifying to help someone realize their dream of becoming a published author. My youngest student to sell a manuscript was 15 and the oldest was a woman in her 80s who won several awards for her first book.
Dani: Where do you get inspiration for your books?
Bobi: Ideas are everywhere! When I'm asked for a book our library doesn't have and I can't find it elsewhere, I jot that topic down. Experiences from my childhood, or things my kids experienced are springboards for stories. Things in the news are inspiration too. I often wonder how the person not being talked about feels, or what one thing could have been changed that would have created a totally different outcome.
Dani: Why do you write Non Fiction?
Bobi: I think few people realize that kids really like nonfiction--even in kindergarten and first grade. And kids of all ages love to learn interesting facts their friends and family don't know. I like being able to take a topic and make it understandable to young readers. When I was writing a column on Junior Showmanship for DogWorld Magazine, I tried to make my topics clear enough for someone new to the sport to understand and yet interesting and relevant to experienced juniors as well.
Dani: You travel a lot. Where is your favourite travel destination?
Bobi: I almost always want to go somewhere new, so my favorite destination is usually the next one on my wishlist. Right now Scotland and New Zealand are at the top of a very long list of places I want to see. But I'd love to get back to the Netherlands because it is a fascinating country.
Dani: What's the neatest thing you've learned in your travels?