SHARON CHRISCOE: A Vrooming KidLit Author
A couple years ago while I was reading the super-talented Jane Yolen’s HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT? for around the tenth time, I found myself wanting my very own unique twist on a bedtime story. After much brainstorming, and some trial and error, it hit me . . . full throttle! A race car! Kids love race cars and I had never read about a race car getting ready for bed. I spent the next few weeks in my mobile office drafting those first words.
Yep. That’s right, my office is not only mobile but it’s the passenger seat of a bread truck in which I work alongside my super supportive husband on our bread route.
It took almost another year of tweaking the story, revision after revision, draft after draft (nearly 50 in total!) before Race Car became a book that was submission worthy. And I am so thankful to my wonderful critique partners and the SCBWI Blueboard members that encouraged me and helped me to get him all polished and shined.
How did this manuscript help you snag your agent and what's it been like working with her?
I first submitted to my amazing agent, Jessica Sinsheimer through a referral. Once I hit Send on RACE CAR DREAMS, it all happened very fast. Jessica read it and immediately asked to see more of my work, which I excitedly sent along right away. At race track speed in the world of publishing, Jessica emailed me within three days asking for a phone call.
Our call took place a few days later and Jessica and I had an immediate connection. She was so wonderful and fun to talk with, and she really loved RACE CAR DREAMS! I knew right then that she was the agent for me.
Working with Jessica this past year and a half has been fabulous! She’s a very hands-on agent who cares about her clients, gives fantastic editorial advice, and has encouraged me as a writer to grow, try new ideas, and even stretch into new genres. Not only have I gained a wonderful agent, I have also gained a terrific friend.
What was it like working with your editor at Running Press?
Working with Marlo Scrimizzi on RACE CAR DREAMS was a blast! She’s such a lovely person! Her vision for RACE CAR DREAMS was wonderful and her editorial suggestions were brilliant. Within no time, we had RACE CAR at his top speed and ready to hand off to the illustrator.
I was sad to hear she was leaving, but happy for her in her new role at the same time. Marlo was wonderful in reassuring me that the new editor was fantastic and that Race Car and myself would be in great hands. And I did get to say goodbye to her over the phone, which was really nice.
What went through your mind when your editor changed, but how did it all work out?
One word--PANIC! A million thoughts rushed through my head. What if the new editor didn’t like me? What if she didn’t like my writing? Thankfully, I had my agent, my family, and my friends to calm me and tell me that everything was going to be okay.
And guess what! It was! My new editor, Julie Matysik, has been a delight to work with. She is smart and fun and all sorts of awesome! She vroomed right up to the starting line and loved RACE CAR as much as all of us! And she wasted no time in getting book two underway. In fact, she was a key person in deciding what book two would be about. Julie and my publisher had a fun discussion about what types of vehicles would make for a great book two. They sent me a couple of titles and BULLDOZER DREAMS was one of them. When I read that title, my instant thoughts were “A Bulldozer! YES! I want to do that!” Now BULLDOZER DREAMS is with the illustrator—I can hardly wait to see the proofs!
I consider myself to be a very lucky author in having the privilege to work with both of these amazingly talented, great editors.
When you first saw the illustrations for RACE CAR DREAMS, how did it make you feel?
Awestruck, to say the least. Seeing the vivid expressions of Race Car, his library inside a tree, his toy wrench, the warm shades of blue and purple, and the adorable teal color with the bold orange striping and number two of Race Car was nothing short of outstanding illustrating. He is just the most adorable little car I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t be happier!
Tell us about your little toy car that will be used for future RACE CAR DREAMS book events.
Thank you so much for asking about him! Last year when Running Press Kids bought RACE CAR DREAMS, I mentioned to my husband about getting a wooden cut out of a car and painting it to look like Race Car for photo opts for book events. Well . . . my husband loved the idea but he actually thought we should take it up a few octane notches. He suggested that we find a real battery operated car and have it painted to look like Race Car. And that’s exactly what we did!
We found a vintage 1970’s Beetle. It was in need of a little work and at first he didn’t even run. Thank goodness, my husband is quite handy when it comes to working on pretty much anything because the little car actually needing rewiring and new pedals installed. Once he finally was fully operational with his engine, headlights, and a horn! it was time to get him off to the paint shop. We can’t wait to share him with the kids at the events and hope that they love him as much as we do. You can see pictures of his transformation on my blog.
After a day at the track of zipping and zooming, a race car is tired and ready for bed. He washes his rims, fills his tummy with oil, and chooses a book that is all about speed. All toasty and warm, he drifts off to sleep, he shifts into gear . . . and dreams of the race!
RACE CAR DREAMS is a delightful, bedtime tale written by Sharon Chriscoe, illustrated by Dave Mottram and published by Running Press Kids (September 2016).