Friday, February 28, 2014

Interview with Darcy Pattison

I am pleased to bring you an interview with the amazing writer Darcy Pattison! She is author of many picture books and how to books (see list below). She also has a great blog on her webpage which I will have to review in the future. Grab a coffee, relax and enjoy the interview!

Author, blogger, writing teacher, and indie publisher, Darcy Pattison ( has books in eight languages. Middle grade novels include, THE WAYFINDER, SAUCY AND BUBBA: A Hansel and Gretel Tale, THE GIRL, THE GYPSY AND THE GARGOYLE, and VAGABONDS. Recent nature books for children include: ABAYOMI, THE BRAZILIAN PUMA: The True Story of an Orphaned Cub (Mims House), WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS (Mims House), a Starred Review in Publisher’s Weekly; DESERT BATHS (Sylvan Dell), an NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book 2013; and, PRAIRIE STORMS (Sylvan Dell). Other ebooks for writers include Start Your NovelHow to Write a Children’s Picture Book, and The Book Trailer Manual. Darcy Pattison is the 2007 recipient of Arkansas Governor’s Arts Awards for her work in Children’s Literature. Download a free ebook, After the First Draft, at her website,

Dani: What is your favourite part about being a writer?

Darcy: I love when a story comes together. I’ll be writing along and moaning because the story isn’t working, and then, I tweak a couple words and – Wow! – everything falls into place. It happens over and over as I trust the process. It always amazes me when it happens.

Dani: Who is your favourite author(s) and why?

Darcy: So many authors, so little space: I love so many authors. Perhaps, though, I could mention Sandra Boynton, the author-illustrator of toddler books such as Moo, Baa, La, La, La. Somehow, she manages to put together rhymes, humor, and a story that as an adult, I don’t mind reading again and again. The durability of her stories is amazing.

Dani:  What inspired you to write Abayomi, The Brazilian Puma?

Darcy: Kitty Harvill is my friend and illustrator of another picture book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS: Surviving the Japanese Tsunami and Other Disasters for Over 60 Years. She lives half the year in Arkansas and half the year in southern Brazil. Through her ties to the Brazilian conservation community, she heard the story of a cub who was orphaned and brought me the information. We wanted to do another animal biography—a story of a specific individual wild animal—and this story seemed perfect.

Dani:  Can you tell me about the kinds of research did you have to do in writing this book?

Darcy: For this book I Skyped the scientists in charge of the orphaned puma and the plans to restore the cub to the wild. Sergio and Marcia were on the spot when the cub was recovered and have an ongoing interest in wild pumas and their survival. Their intimate knowledge of the situation meant I could sift through the scientific data to find the story. I researched puma natural history and how they fit into the environment. Using the amazing technology of Google Earth, I drove along the roads that border the wooded areas and sugar cane fields where the pumas live. I studied photographs of the area and of the pumas. Scientists said that pumas were important because of how they fit into the predator-prey relationship: pumas eat capybaras, which are host to ticks that carry Brazilian tick fever (similar to our Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever). That meant I had to study ticks and capybaras to understand the puma. Part of the conservation effort involved setting up a puma corridor, or a protected set of connected wooded areas through which wild life can travel safely to connect populations of pumas. This was important so that the pumas didn’t become genetically isolated, creating problems from inbreeding. All in all, I did huge amounts of research just for a 32-page picture book.

Dani:  Please tell us a bit about your publisher and how you got involved with Mims House.

Darcy: My book, WISDOM, THE MIDWAY ALBATROSS, is a Mims House book; it received a starred Publisher’s Weekly review and has been distributed in Smithsonian Museum stores. Mims House ( is my Indie publishing house, where I publish my fiction and nonfiction for kids, how-to-write books for adults and teacher resource books.

Dani:  I read that you have a Novel Revision Retreat. How does this work and what do writers learn during these?

Darcy: In 1999, I created the Novel Revision retreat. In order to attend, a writer must have a complete draft of a novel and we spend the weekend talking about how to revise that novel. The best known alumni of the class is Kirby Larson, who attended and then revised her manuscript, which sold in ten days flat. It became Hattie Big Sky, which went on to win a Newbery Honor. For more on the retreat,

This year, I’ll be teaching a Novel Revision retreat in the Boston area in August, along with a one day workshop on writing picture books. For more information, see

Finally, I’ll be at the Highlights Foundation in June to teach PB&J: Picture Books and All That Jazz, along with author/illustrator Leslie Helakoski. For full information, see

More about Darcy:
DESERT BATHS: 2013 NSTA Outstanding Science Trade Book

VAGABONDS: April 2014
Fiction Notes blog Voted one of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers
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1 comment:

  1. Nice interview! I've been to one of Darcy's wonderful revision retreats and came home with lots of new ideas.