Photo: Courtesy of Amalia Hoffman
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background
I was born and raised in Jerusalem. I lived in the same room with my two sisters and it was a lot of fun. Dad used to read us bedtime stories but working hard, he always fell asleep just as the princess was about to marry the prince or when the gang was just about to run off with the treasure … .
So I started writing and making drawings for my own stories and that way, I finally knew what happened at the end. For as long as I can remember, I always had crayons, pencils or paint brushes in my hand. I once drew monsters on the school’s desk and got in trouble for it.
After I graduated from high school, I attended Bezalel art academy in Jerusalem. Later, I came to New York and received my undergraduate honors degree from Pratt Institute and Master’s degree in Art Education from NYU. I started writing and illustrating picture books about 16 years ago. It was a wonderful way of connecting with my childhood.
What inspired you to become an author?
For many years, I had a visual merchandising business. I decorated windows for fancy stores in Manhattan as well as Mom & Pop stores. I created themes and amazing props for each display so the windows actually “told” a story. As I installed the merchandise and displays, I used to watch kids on the sidewalk, gazing at the window. That gave me the idea to try to write and illustrate stories for kids.
Where and when do you write? Do you have a writing routine?
I used to work in the basement. Now that my kids are gone, I claimed one of their bedrooms. It has a large window (Unlike the basement.) I like working close to the fridge and coffee maker. When the weather is nice I can sit outdoors and dream up stories. I don’t really have a writing routine. I work every day. When I’m working on a particular project, I have to allow more time. I’m a night owl and I love working until 2 am when no one calls or rings the bell.
How long does it take you to finish a book/novel?
I don’t really write novels, I write and illustrate picture book. But I did start a novel a while back and would love to find the time to finish it. Finishing a picture book depends on the amount of time I need to spend on the illustrations and text. Usually, I can finish the illustrations once I have the story finalized in about 4-6 months.
What authors can we find in your library?
Sholom Aleichem, Brian Selznick, Gary Golio, Dr. Seuss, Maurice Sendak, Amos Oz, Meir Shalev. I read a lot of books in Hebrew by Israeli authors.
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Grow tough skin, so you don’t fall apart by rejections (Which are part of the business.) Join professional organizations where you can meet other like-minded people, such as SCBWI. Don’t try to imitate or guess what the market wants. Spend time with kids.
Where can our readers purchase your books?
All my books are available on Amazon, B&N and wherever fine books are sold. For Dreidel Day, (Kar Ben Publishing) one of the places to purchase is through their web
I also have a new Hanukkah book, Hanukkah Nights coming up from Kar Ben on October 1st, 2022.
My Hands Make the World (PJ Library Publishing) can be purchased at https://www.amazon.com/pjlibrary
The Brave Cyclist: The True Story of a Holocaust Hero (Capstone) can also be purchased on https://shop.capstonepub.com/library/products/brave-cyclist/
On which Social Media channels can our readers connect with you?
Photos: Courtesy of Amalia Hoffman