Linda Williams' blog is filled with the history of science, exiting leaps in technology and fun facts. As Quinn Cole she writes about picture book reviews, writing tips/inspiration, and lots of other fun topics. I'm not sure how she does it all, but I'm sure you'll agree that this woman is amazing!
Dani: What were your favorite picture books when you were a kid?
Quinn: My favorite books were: Caps for Sale by Esphyr Slobodkina, The Little House and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel both by Virginia Lee Burton.
My favorite picture books as a writer are Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst, Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester, and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore by William Joyce. I also love Margie Palatini’s books.
Dani: Do you prefer Spring or Autumn?
Quinn: Winter is my favorite (love snow), but Spring is next since I’m big on flower gardening.
Dani: What was your background before writing and how has it helped you in your writing?
Quinn: For my science writing as Linda Williams, here’s the scoop:
When I was in the 5th grade, I saw a health film on open heart surgery. It was fascinating! I went home and told my parents I wanted to be a heart doctor. I studied hard and upon high school graduation enrolled in a pre-medical program of study at the University of Nevada. It was tough but I did pretty well. One day, I went to my first microbiology lab and looked through a microscope for the first time. I discovered an unseen world! I switched majors and graduated with a B.S. in microbiology. My first job was doing research at NASA - Johnson Space Center. So cool! I did a ton of science writing for my job and answered an online call for science writers from McGraw Hill. They asked for sample chapters and the rest is history.
For my children’s fiction writing as Quinn Cole:
The daughter of a career librarian, I was in the library from the time I could walk. I lived on a farm with no close neighbors and my brother was 5 years younger. A huge gap when we were small. I built castles from weeds and had grand adventures with the dog, chickens, horses, cows, and even the local muskrat.
I started writing children’s stories and sending them out after the birth of my second child. I received several super nice and encouraging, hand-written rejections. So, I took a children’s writing class at Rice University. I got better and eventually had 2 more children. (Lots of story ideas from the children’s antics) Writing time became very scarce with my NASA day job and home commitments, but I never forgot my love for writing children’s fiction.
Dani: I know you had a successful career in Microbiology and writing science books which is great, but what made you decide to write picture books?
Quinn: I attended an SCBWI conference in Houston and asked one of the editors on the faculty if she thought I should keep writing fiction, which I dearly loved (even with the rejections) or just give up and focus on science writing (which I could do in my sleep). Here is her advice, “Do the science writing until you have a few books under your belt and then go back to writing picture books. You’ll have a professional track record and editors will notice.”
I took her advice and over 20 books later, I returned to children’s fiction. Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z was a hybrid book that spanned science/medicine and children’s fiction. It was a lot of fun to write and I’m having a blast sharing it with children, parents and teachers at schools, children’s museums, children’s hospitals, and at author events. I was also thrilled that AP was selected as a Picture Books, Early Reader (Children’s) finalist in the 2013 ForeWord Reviews Book Awards.
Dani: Have you ever had a monster puke the alphabet on you?
Quinn: My four monsters had that privilege over the years. In fact, my oldest daughter who just became a mother herself suggested the title originally.
Dani: What, in your opinion, is the best thing you have ever written?
Quinn: Wow. That’s a tough question. I was really pleased with Earth Sciences Demystified because my father was an amateur geologist and rock hound. I dedicated that book to him.
Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z has provided me the chance to connect with young children and picture books in a big way. I’m very visual and really enjoyed creating an Alphabet Puke book trailer for YouTube. Choosing the lively music and pulling it all together was a great adventure. I love watching the littlest kids dance to it.
Dani: Where do you go now from here?
Quinn: I will continue to write both fiction and non-fiction for children as the inspiration strikes me. In fact, I just submitted a proposal for a new science and technology series for grades 3-6. It’s the first time I’ve suggested a series, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed.
I have a couple of picture books out to editors. I am looking forward to hearing back about those. Since I maintain fiction (Quinn Cole) and non-fiction (Linda Williams) social media pages (i.e., Twitter, FB, Pinterest), I’m endlessly busy (usually trying to remember which password goes to which site). I’d like to figure out how to create a combined author website for both, but since the readerships seem to be vastly different, I keep them separate.
Quinn: Here are links for anyone who wants to stop and say hello or share their thoughts about the latest post. I love to hear from folks.
I must confess, my favorite social media website is Pinterest. I use it as a visual file cabinet with boards for inspiration, humor, illustrations, science cartoons, science education, NASA news, story starters, art, architecture & design, steampunk, and robots. SOO FUN!!
Quinn Cole – blog, FB, Facebook author page, Blue Robot books, Pinterest- Picbooksrock, fiction website, Twitter
Linda Williams – williams-science blog, FB, Pinterest, Twitter, (science website is being updated)
If anyone wants to chat in person, I will be at the Terry Library in Little Rock, AR at 10:00 a.m. on June 18, 2014 to read Alphabet Puke: Monsters’ Medicine A-Z and talk about children’s fiction and health as part of the library’s summer reading program. I would love to meet you!
Or if travel this fall brings you to Jonesboro, Arkansas, I will be hosting a Science café event on October 6th as part of the Arkansas Science Festival. Watch for a Facebook “heads up” as it gets closer.