Angie Azur is a YA Sci-fi Writer.
Writer for PALEO Magazine.
Former Intern at the Andrea Brown Literary Agency.
SCBWI & COWG Member.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Interview with Keely L Parrack: Children's Book Writer

 I met Keely at an SCBWI event in Oakland. She worked that event, and was very helpful to newbies like me. I wanted to learn more about how I could get involved with the writer's workshop and she gave me contact names and emails, along with a great big smile.
Keely's warmth and generosity wash over you when you stand in her presence. She is kind to animals and children. She is helpful to workshop writers, even the super annoying ones. (you know who I'm talking about) Keely can take any lemon and turn it into lemonade with a hint of lime. She's awesome! 

Look to read more about her in the next year. She is a rising star. 

Below are the questions I asked her:

1.     Why do you write for children?
I started off teaching kids in Nottingham UK - in a  kind of under privileged area called Hyson Green, the kids were 60% special needs either emotional/social or ESL but they all loved books, seriously if you can get a kid turned on to reading you can literally safe their life - or at least give them a temporary safe haven.

Also I love the way children think and wonder and don't care if you break the rules - like a giant floating peach - as long as it's written well they'll go with it.

I never thought of writing for kids, I;d always loved teaching them to write, but I'd only written poetry and short stories - not for kids kid of stuff.
It was when I had my son and stopped working for a while that the light bulb went on!

2.     What is the name of the YA novel you are working on now?
 The Ice Between Us

3.     Where do you teach creative writing to kids?

Towne Center Books in Pleasanton - summer camp only. I love this but only because it's a brief fun thing to do, it feeds into my creative writing but is not long enough to eclipse it.

4.     How did you get that job of teaching at summer camps?
 I made it up! Seriously! 

The owner is a friend of mine, and I remember going in one day and saying how I wish there was a kind of 826 Valenica out here and she said why don't you teach summer camp here?

So I do! It's perfect because I get to set the curriculum, dream up the themes, decide on the books, and the snacks.

Snacks are very important! 

The Enchanted Inkpot is an amazing site for writers and readers of fantasy.
Check it out here:

6.     What is your blog about?

Too much really - just whatever I happen to be thinking about, so the inside of this writer's mind.
I think I need to focus it down! Though the highest ranked entries have been on New Zealand and rainy days so maybe not!

7.     What is your favorite subject to write about?

Oh that's tough, My writing is pretty varied but, it always has ghosts in and they are never planned, they just appear and become essential to the story. And they're never evil ghosts either!

8.     Describe your writer's voice in 5 words.

Well I think I'm quite funny but people say I'm dark! And it depends what I'm writing, my haiku books are curious, observant, poetic, lyrical, humorous, 
My YA tends to be mysterious, lyrical, gothic, paranormal and slightly off beat.

9.     What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?

My alarm goes off at 6:30 so I can say goodbye to my son who leaves at 7, but then it depends if I go running or go back to bed!! Food is important but varied, oatmeal or a banana, a strong latte is a must so I have an amazing machine for that!

10. Who is your biggest cheerleader?

THE iNKSTERS in terms of consistency  and length of time - they are Carol Peters, Deborah Underwood, Pamela Turner and Nancy Case Humphreys they are my crit group  which morphed into a set of amazing friends and cheerleaders who support me no matter what! And always steer me to the right path on my writing. I have a bunch of wonderful writer friends too. 

Children's writers are the best cheerleaders!

11. Own any pets? What are they and what are their names?

My son has a cat called Mimi and really she is all of ours and secretly mostly mine - ha ah ha ! 

She follows me from room to room, and calls out when she doesn't know where I am!  She's a bundle of fluff and has such a sweet nature - she lets my son pick her up anytime and cart her all over the place

12. Where do you come up with characters for your books?

They just arrive. Sometimes quite uninvited!

 13. What is the one piece of advice you'd give a newbie writer?

Just write - don't worry if it's crap it will get better but not if you don't sit your butt in the chair!

And read a lot!! And make friends who are writing but don't spend so much time with them you stop writing! 

14. What kind of writing workshops do you prefer?

Good ones. 

15. You are a member of SCBWI – why? How has it helped your writing career?

That's tricky - it's helped my social life more than anything! I've met some great friends though attending conferences and work shops. As a SCBWI volunteer I host Beyond the Bay four times a year and get to choice the program invite the speakers etc.

I've met a lot of editors and agents through being speaker point person, but while that's really lovely the thing that helps
your writing career most is the quality of your writing so I would say especially at the beginning SCBWI really set me 
along the right path. 

 16. What's the funniest thing a kid has ever said to you about your writing? Or during writing camp?

I bumped into a parent yesterday who's kid had been at a school visit I did last week, - he came home saying he had no idea what the poetry part of was (of the presentation) but haiku was fun!

17. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not typing away?

Printing and designing cards, photography running and movies!

18. Who/What are you reading right now?

Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children

19. What authors would you recommend to your readers?

Any and all go where ever your mood takes you

20. How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?

Check out my blog - shameless self promotion

21. What's on your writing desk that is a 'must have' for you?

Nothing mostly I don't even use a desk - so I guess really my macbook!

22. Do you prefer loud coffee shops or quiet rooms to write?

I don't like writing in coffee houses. Sometimes I need absolute quiet and sometimes I like it sing along loud! It depends on what I'm working on. The best place for me is at home alone - which is hard as my husband also works a lot from home. I have however perfected a don't come near me evil glare.

23. What one word best describes you?

I'd say stubborn, but my card says writer! 

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