I am thrilled to welcome picture book author Vivian Kirkfield to our very first #DebutReviewChallenge Blog Interview! She is the author of not one, not two, but THREE debut picture books in 2019. Welcome, Vivian!
Thank you so much for having me on your blog. It’s an honor to be part of the #DebutReviewChallenge!
Debut By-the-Numbers: FOUR OTTERS TOBOGGAN
Number of years writing:
8 years total writing (2 years to write OTTERS from idea to submission-ready)
Number of years from contract to published book:
Date your book was released:
April 2, 2019
Number of pages:
22 pages of text/illustrations plus 6 pages of back matter
Number of launch events:
2 (specifically for OTTERS – a library story time in Auckland, NZ in March, right before it came out…and a bookstore event at the Blue Bunny in Dedham, MA in June)
Number of days per week that writing takes a backseat to marketing & publicity:
Too many 😊
Number of critique partners:
More than 12 😊
Number of books you hope to publish over the next ten years:
Many more than 12 😊
Number of times you’ve pinched yourself that you really have a book out:
Many, many more than 12 😊
Current number of reviews:
On Amazon: 36; Goodreads (text reviews): 36
A Few Questions…
- Without giving anything away, tell us about your work-in-progress. What do you love about it so far? Where are you stuck?
My current WIP was a revise and resubmit to an editor. She had given some feedback, but as is the way of editors, it wasn’t easy to figure out exactly what she was looking for. And then I had an idea. I googled the editor and found a bunch of interviews she had given. Reading through them I discovered the titles of some of the books she was working on. AHA! Off to the library I scooted and came home with a pile of EIGHT books this editor worked on in the past few years. Using them as mentor texts, I studied how each author framed the story…and then went back to my manuscript to see if I could format the scenes in a similar way.
The revision is now with that editor…time will tell if my brilliant plan succeeded. Stay tuned! 😊
- What does your work space look like? Tell us about a typical work session. (Time of day, length of time, pet companion, favorite snack/drink, writing or art routines, etc.)
My workspace is actually my small dining room table. I love it because on my left is a big picture window that overlooks the back yard which is ringed by three acres of woods. Although there are many other places in the house where I could work with much bigger desks or tables, I like the smaller, intimate vibe…and I’m afraid if I had a bigger table, I’d fill it with more papers and stuff. 😉
Because I’m retired, I tend to get to bed really late (like 2 or 3am), but, because I’m retired, I can sleep in, if I want to. That’s a true blessing and I’m very grateful. And one of my failings, is that I check my email and social media before I start writing. Oops! Which is probably not a good idea. But when I have a deadline or I am really involved in a story, I can work tirelessly, all day and all night.
Favorite snack: Yogurt with granola
Favorite drink: Mint tea with something cake/cookie/pastry-like. Oh, you only asked for the drink. Hmmm…I’m not sure tea can be enjoyed without the accompanying goodie. 😉 Only joking…I’m actually really careful about eating sweets…but I do LOVE them!
I also walk at least a mile every day while I listen to Elton John, The Beatles, Joan Baez, James Taylor, Queen, Paul Simon, Billy Joel.
- When you need to take a creative break, do you have another activity or hobby that recharges you?
If I had a ping pong table and someone to play with, I’d definitely do that for a break. In fact, I’m thinking of buying a ping pong table! I have a 1900 square foot basement that has nothing in it but boxes of stuff that I am slowly but surely going through and tossing. It’s a walk-out basement and would be the perfect spot. We always had a ping pong table when the kids were growing up and when I go on family vacations, if there is a ping pong table…that’s where you’ll find Team Kirkfield. 😊
However, since I don’t have a ping pong table right now, I walk and listen to music every day. I’m blessed to live in a quaint little New England village – and my house sits on three acres of woods.
But, the absolute BEST way for me to recharge is to connect with kid-lit friends. Earlier this year, I traveled around the world and got to hug critique buddies I’ve known for many years but never met. I chat on the phone, Skype, FB message, and am always here if a friend needs help. I have local critique buddies and a local SCBWI group that meets monthly. Plus, my daughter and her family live only five minutes away and my almost-eleven-year old grandson is a fan of sleepovers at Grammy’s house where epic games of Monopoly take place.
Time to Play: STORY SMASH!
Think about all the stories you’ve written that have hit a dead end or are hidden away in a drawer somewhere. For each of the items below, lift an element from a different story to create a weird, unexpected mash-up. Who knows? It may even inspire a new manuscript!
Character(s): A little kid name Isao
Setting: Birthday party
Problem: A storm causes everyone to get misdirected
Now write the pitch:
Isao wants all of his friends to attend his birthday party but when a storm misdirects the guests and a horde of odd strangers appear at his door, including a ballet dancer, a pirate, and a classical violinist, Isao discovers there is more than one way to celebrate.
Birthday chaos always makes for an entertaining story. Your idea sounds intriguing!
WOW! Thank you so much, Laura. I’m not sure this mash-up will ever be ready for prime time, however, I’m thrilled to have revisited those stories. I actually think one of them might have some promise and I’ll be bringing it to a local critique meeting tomorrow!
Thank you for joining us, Vivian! And congratulations on your triple-success debut year!
It’s time to write some reviews! And if you decide to look up Vivian Kirkfield at the library, you’ll have three books to choose from! Write a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or other online site. Keep track, because for every five reviews you write for debut Kidlit creators, you can fill out this ENTRY FORM for a chance to win prizes. Vivian has generously donated a signed book, book swag, a 15-minute classroom Skype visit, and a picture book manuscript critique under 1000 words – fiction or nonfiction, rhyme or prose. Thank you, Vivian!
For BONUS ENTRIES, complete this Rafflecopter giveaway!
Read on for more about Vivian and her books
Bio: Writer for children—reader forever…that’s Vivian Kirkfield in five words. Her bucket list contains many more than five words – but she’s already checked off skydiving, parasailing, banana-boat riding, and visiting critique buddies all around the world. When she isn’t looking for ways to fall from the sky or sink under the water, she can be found writing picture books in the quaint village of Amherst, NH where the old stone library is her favorite hangout and her young grandson is her favorite board game partner. A retired kindergarten teacher with a masters in Early Childhood Education, Vivian inspires budding writers during classroom visits and shares insights with aspiring authors at conferences and on her blog, Picture Books Help Kids Soar where she hosts the #50PreciousWords International Writing Contest and the #50PreciousWordsforKids Challenge. She is the author of Pippa’s Passover Plate (Holiday House); Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book (Pomegranate); Sweet Dreams, Sarah (Creston Books); Making Their Voices Heard: The Inspiring Friendship of Ella Fitzgerald and Marilyn Monroe (Little Bee Books, January 14, 2020); and From Here to There: Inventions That Changed the Way the World Moves (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Fall 2020). You can connect with her on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, or just about any place people with picture books are found.
Book Title: Four Otters Toboggan: An Animal Counting Book
Author/Illustrator: Vivian Kirkfield/Mirka Hokannen
Synopsis: In this lyrical counting book, otters toboggan down a mudslide, mud turtles stretch out their necks, and dragonflies dance, ballerinas above a liquid stage, as ten endangered animals visit a river where the character of the water changes as quickly as a child’s moods.
Book Title: Pippa’s Passover Plate
Author/Illustrator: Vivian Kirkfield/Jill Weber
Publisher: Holiday House
Synopsis: Quiver, Quaver, Shiver, Shake…Cats and Snakes and Owls make Pippa Mouse cringe and quake. When her Seder plate goes missing, Pippa gathers her courage and questions her natural enemies. As Passover nears and the sun begins to set, Pippa finds more than her dish—she discovers that life is good when friends are near.
Book Title: Sweet Dreams, Sarah – From Slavery to Inventor
Author/Illustrator: Vivian Kirkfield/Chris Ewald
Publisher: Creston Books
Synopsis: Former slave Sarah Goode moves north to Chicago with freedom in her pocket, hope in her heart, and dreams swirling in her head. After building an innovative space-saving cabinet bed, Sarah becomes one of the first African American women to own a U.S. patent.