Photo: Courtesy of Lesléa Newman
Please tell us a little bit about yourself and your background.
I grew up in Brooklyn and on Long Island, went to school in Vermont and Colorado, and moved to Massachusetts in 1982 where I have remained happily ever since. I started writing poetry when I was eight years old and never looked back!
What inspired you to become an author?
When I was eight years old, my family moved from Brooklyn to Long Island which made me very sad. My beloved grandmothers (both immigrants from Eastern Europe) stayed behind in Brooklyn and I didn’t see them as often. To express my sorrow, I started writing poetry and for some reason, that made me feel better. And so began a lifetime of using writing to explore my emotions.
Where and when do you write? Do you have a writing routine?
I write first thing in the morning. I am very lucky to have a writing studio in my home. I like to write sitting on my writing couch with a cup of coffee steaming in front of me and a cat purring beside me. I write everything with a pen and notebook (first draft) which I then type into my computer. Everything I write goes through between ten and thirty drafts.
How long does it take for you to finish a novel/book?
I haven’t written a novel in a long time, though I have recently written a pair of memoirs-in-verse, I Carry My Mother and I Wish My Father. Each of those books took about a year. I have been writing picture books lately. The first draft can take anywhere from a day to a month. And then subsequent drafts of which there are many can also take up to a year. I work hard to get the words right!
Which authors can we find in your library?
I am so happy to have an actual designated library room in my home. Some of my favorite Jewish children’s book authors are Barbara Diamond Goldin, Jane Yolen, Richard Michelson, Mordicai Gerstein (of blessed memory) and Norton Juster (of blessed memory) all of whom are or were good friends of mine
What advice would you give an aspiring author?
Read, read, read! Read in whatever form you want to write in. Read historical books and contemporary books. Read the award winners. Write, write, write! Get into a writing habit whether that’s an hour a day, a few hours a week, weekend mornings, after midnight, whatever works for you. Put your writing time in your calendar like any other appointment. And find or start a writers group of like-minded souls who will give you encouraging and honest feedback. And most importantly, have faith in yourself! One-hundred percent of all people who have published a book, had at one point in their lives, never published a book. We all start out from the same place.
Where can our readers purchase your books?
My books are available wherever fine books are sold. In brick-and-mortar bookstores, on-line bookstores, or directly from me through my website (that’s the only way to get autographed copies). Some recent titles are:
I Carry My Mother
I Wish My Father
Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail
Gittel’s Journey: An Ellis Island Story
Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed
Here Is The World: A Year of Jewish Holidays
A Sweet Passover
As Babies Dream
On which social media channels can our readers connect with you?
Photos: Courtesy of Lesléa Newman