How did you become a writer?
I think I was writing stories as soon as I could form sentences on paper. One of the first stories I wrote, back in first grade, I eventually turned into my book PIGLOO, so I’m grateful to my mom for keeping all my work. In middle school, I had a stack of manila folders, each with a different story in it. I liked to draw the characters (families always had 10-12 children) and maps. So I don’t know that I became a writer—I just was a writer. That said, I decided to work towards becoming a professional writer when I realized how much I loved the books I was sharing with my children, and I wanted to write books like those.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Because I loved to write, I always gravitated to the teachers who supported me. Mrs. Grinder let me be in the sixth-grade creative writing club, even though I was in fifth grade. In high school, Mrs. Catron and Mrs. Picardi encouraged me to write fiction. More recently, I was inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda and HAMILTON to write a more densely layered rhyming manuscript. My published rhymers are in simple couplets, and writing something more complicated was both a challenge and a joy.
When and where do you write?
Mostly I write on the couch. I know that’s not very exciting, but it’s true. I could describe the couch, I suppose, but it’s nothing special—just a green couch. Usually my dogs are nearby and my cats come to visit occasionally.
What are you working on now?
In the last few weeks, I’ve been doing final edits on the two picture books that are coming out in the next year: VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW from Disney-Hyperion, and SUNNY’S TOW TRUCK SAVES THE DAY from Abrams Appleseed. I also just attended a fabulous writing workshop with legendary editor Patti Gauch and one of my favorite writers, Newbery Honor- and Printz Honor-winning author Gary D. Schmidt. So I’m diving back into the middle-grade I’ve been working on for some time.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I don’t think it’s possible to be a writer and not be occasionally, or frequently, plagued by self-doubt, which is really what writer’s block is. So yes, of course!
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Well, all the writing clichés have some truth to them, so at any given time, I could probably find something like “read read read” or “butt in chair” is resonating with me currently. I’m not sure this is advice, but back when I worked on a desktop, I printed this out from Jane Smiley and taped it to the computer because it reminded me to remain focused and not worry too, too much: “Every first draft is perfect, because all a first draft has to do is exist.”
What’s your advice to new writers?
Set goals that you have control over—you can’t set a goal to win an award or to reach a certain level of sales. You can have a goal to write the best books you can. And try every day to move forward, even if it’s just an inch. As Vampirina says in the first Vampirina book, “It doesn’t matter if you take one giant leap or many tiny steps, as long as you are working toward your goal.”
Anne Marie Pace’s books include GROUNDHUG DAY (Disney-Hyperion, 2017, illustrated by Christopher Denise); PIGLOO (Henry Holt, 2016, illustrated by Lorna Hussey); and the VAMPIRINA BALLERINA series (Disney-Hyperion, illustrated by LeUyen Pham), the inspiration for the hit Disney Junior animated series VAMPIRINA. New in 2018 are BUSY-EYED DAY (Beach Lane Books, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon) and the fourth Vampirina book, VAMPIRINA IN THE SNOW. Find her at: http://www.annemariepace.com, https://www.facebook.com/VampirinaBallerina and @annemariepace.