Wade Bradford, author of the newly released picture book Why Do I Have To Make My Bed? (Tricycle Press) took a break from his busy schedule as author, play write, actor, college professor, husband and father to answer some questions for us. He also was kind enough to provide a signed copy of his book for one lucky bloggie. Here are the rules to be eligible to win it:
1. Be a follower of this blog
2. Leave a comment below
That's it! However, please be sure to forward this on to your friends. At the end of this interview are several buttons so you can easily tweet or facebook it. And now, heeeeeere's Wade Bradford!
Laurisa: Hi Wade. First, congratulations on the release of your first picture book Why Do I Have To Make My Bed? Or A History of Messy Rooms. Tell us a little about it.
Wade: Why Do I Have to Make My Bed? is about a modern day boy who asks an ancient question. The picture book is illustrated by the amazing Johanna van der Sterre, and her vibrant watercolors (and my humble storytelling) take us from the modern era, back to the fifties, then to the early 1900s, and then to the Old West, Colonial Times, Pilgrim Days, all the way back to the pyramids and even before. And with each step along the way, we meet a child from an earlier generation. Each boy or girl has their own set of unique chores, toys, pets, activities, etc. -- but the unifying factor is they all must make their bed. (And they all wonder why they must perform that daunting task if it is just going to get messed up again).
L: What inspired you to write it?
Wade: When I was a kid, I hated to clean my room. I was pretty lazy, I guess. But when my mom complained and insisted that I pick things up, I understood the rationale behind all of the chores. I needed to take out my laundry so I could get clean clothes. I needed to pick up my Legos, because who wants to step on a in their bare feet? But I couldn't figure out why I had to make my bed.
The idea of creating a historical book about chores/bedmaking came from my mother's fascination with family trees. She loves genealogy, and her fascination with distant relatives and ancestors has rubbed off on me. When I was kicking around the idea of a story of a boy who asks that famous "Why Do I have to Make My Bed?" question, I realized that hundreds of generations of kids have been wondering the same thing, and that some of those kids are my ancestors.
L: Publishing a picture book is a long process. Would you describe a little of your journey from writing your early drafts to finally seeing your book in print?
Wade: It was a long process, but an enjoyable one. Let's see... Describe a "little" of the journey. That's tricky. I am tempted to ramble on about it. So let me break it down in several steps.
I met an editor, Abigail Samoun, while at a writer's conference. She apparently liked my work, and encouraged me to submit. Even when she turned something down, she kept encouraging me. I think the fourth manuscript that I sent her was "Why Do I Have To Make My Bed?" She loved it -- but then she had to really push for it. I didn't realize how much some editors have to fight for the projects that they acre about. Thanks to her dedication, the publisher at Tricycle Press made me an offer. It took about four months of waiting to find out if they would offer me a contract. When they did, I was blissfully ecstatic.
The drafting process was actually minimal. Abigail and I worked on a few details -- getting the right metaphor, fine tuning some of the writing. The big project that happened towards the end of the waiting period, right before the book went to print, was that Tricycle decided to include historical material at the end of the book, and I had only a day to write it! That was stressful and fun at the same time.
L: How much say did you have in the illustrating process?
Wade: Early on, Abigail asked me what types of illustrators I preferred. I was pretty clueless, but I said that i hoped we could find someone skilled at portraying different historical periods. I did not have any contact with the illustrator during the drawing process, but I did get to see some early sketches, which I immediately loved. Once the book was completed, Johanna and I have become facebook friends, and she was kind enough to bestow a wonderful gift; she gave me the Roman illustration featured in the book (my favorite of all her drawings).
L: Can we look forward to any other books from you in the future?
Wade: I certainly hope so. I had a preconceived notion that once my first picture book sold that it would be easy to sell more of them. Turns out, it's just as hard to sell the second one. Fortunately, I now have a terrific agent to help me out. And I have been making progress with two new stories... hopefully both of them will be in bookstores in the near future.
L: Thank you, Wade, for spending a little time with us today, and for a terrific children's book. For our readers who are aspiring to write books of their own, what advice can you offer?
Wade: Write, write, write and keep writing. Write for the joy of telling a story and not for the goal of making millions of dollars. Also, if you can, attend conferences. Make connections. The is the primary reason for my little success story.