Firstly I need to say that if I let my hair grow out, it looks a lot like Adam’s, except he looks way cooler than me with long hair. I was trying to remember where we met. I know author Marcie Colleen introduced us. I think it may have been the Princeton Book Festival a few years back. I do know the last time I saw Adam was over literary cocktails at the Kidlit TV/12×12 bash a few months ago in Tribeca, Manhattan.
[JM] Where are you from/have you lived, and how has that influenced your writing?
[AL] I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia, but I’ve lived on both coasts and traveled all over the world. Living, or visiting different places has had a huge influence on my writing. I enjoy writing from personal experience. For instance, in WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK and PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK the monkeys are based on actual monkeys I met while in Roatán, Honduras. I stayed at this really cool resort where a troop of monkeys was allowed to roam around free. And let me tell you, those monkeys were naughty. They stole all kinds of things – sunglasses, drinks, cake, anything they could get their little paws on. Paws? Do they have paws or hands? I’m going with paws. Anyway, they caused so much havoc that I couldn’t help but wonder what they would be like as characters in a book.
[JM] I loved hearing the real monkey inspiration for these two picture books. Tell us a little of your beginnings and journey as an author?
[AL] I started writing my first book when I was still in school. I still have the draft. It’s only about a chapter and a half, and it’s not very good, but I like to look at it sometimes and think about how it got me started on this path. I started writing for children about 15 years ago. For the first 7 or 8 years I just wrote for myself. Eventually, someone pointed me in the direction of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. I started going to events and working to hone my craft. Eventually I met someone at an event who gave me a leg up to getting my manuscript in front of the write editor. And it’s been a great ride ever since.
[JM] Do you have a favorite social media platform, and if so, why?
[AL] I’m actually pretty bad at social media. I try to have a presence on what I consider to be the main ones, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. They each have their benefits. Twitter is great for sending a thought out into the ether. Facebook works well when you want some back and forth with your viewers. And Instagram is great for imagery, although Twitter and Facebook are getting better at this.
[JM] Please would you share your favorite spread from I WILL NOT EAT YOU and tell us why you love it?
[AL] I absolutely love the wordless spread in the middle. It’s just a brilliantly done moment. Scott’s art zooms in progressively on the cave building tension until we have this wonderful moment with Theodore. The eyes are amazingly expressive. And when we turn the page to find the boy approaching the cave we are left with a feeling that hopefully matches Theodore’s. I just love this spread.
[JM] What was the first book you ever bought with your own money?
[AL] This is a tough one. I’m not really sure. Growing up, my parents read quite a bit. My dad will check out library books by the dozen. My grandparents gifted books for holidays. My grandmother even passed a book she had received as a child on to me for one of my birthdays. The Adventures of Baron Munchausen. It’s a fantastic book. However, if I had to pick a book that I purchased for myself, I’d probably guess it was Stephen King.I went through a HUGE Stephen King phase. I bought a few of them, Pet Semetary, IT, Tommyknockers. Not sure which was first though.
[JM] Tell us a little about any writing groups or communities you are involved in.
[AL] As I mentioned above, I’m a member of SCBWI. It’s a great organisation. If you’re not yet a member, and you want to write kidlit, visit www.scbwi.org. You’ll never regret it.
[JM] What artwork do you have on the walls of your home?
[AL] We’ve mostly decorated with canvas prints of family pics. But we’ve got a couple of other cool things around.
[JM] How many picture books do you have on your shelves at home?
[AL] I have hundreds of them. All kinds. New, old, really old. I love books. There are boxes and boxes of books in my basement. I only have so much shelf space and as I get more books some of them need to get cycled through.
[JM] What is your main writing fault/flaw?
[AL] I try to leave a lot of room in my stories for my illustrator to add their own bits of flavor. Sometimes this can leave the story a little thin. I often find myself going back in to a manuscript and fleshing it out a bit more. This has become more true as I work on longer form books, but it’s also necessary for picture books. I find that adding additional text, or art notes, can really help. But as with everything, you need to walk a fine line. You don’t want to add too much and take away the illustrator’s ability to express himself. Or cloud your message. Or any number of other issues. Actually, now that I consider it, I think my main flaw might be revising. When do you stop? How many times do you go through a manuscript and tweak it before it’s ready to send off? There’s always one more tweak you can make.
Five Fun Ones to Finish [JM] What’s your favorite park in the world?
[AL] There’s a cool place in Arizona called Canyon De Chelly. I’ve been a few times. It’s unbelievably beautiful.
[JM] I’ve added it to my list! Cats or Dogs?
[AL] Dogs. Definitely dogs.
[JM] Fact most people don’t know about you?
[AL] I play hockey. It’s a lot of fun, and pretty good exercise to boot.
[JM] What was your first paid job?
[AL] I worked in a dental office making temporary crowns. It was a bit boring and monotonous, but the money was pretty good.
[JM] Go to snack and/or drink to keep those creative juices flowing.
[AL] Chocolate. Dark. The darker the better. Actually, as a kid I used to snack on baker’s chocolate when my mom wasn’t paying attention.
I have so too snacked on baking chocolate! Wishing you continued authorial success, Adam. Please check back on Friday for my review of Adam’s new release, I WILL NOT EAT YOU.