Excited to share an author interview with you today! Our featured author, Laura, has some thoughtful things to share with both writers and readers of books about the importance of observing, spending time outside, and being willing to make a few messes along the way.
Laura Roettiger has enjoyed working with children ever since she was no longer considered a child herself. She was a reading specialist and elementary teacher in Chicago, IL before moving to the Rocky Mountains of Colorado where she worked in Environmental Education and is now a mentor for reading and writing at a STEM school. Her superpower is encouraging curiosity in children and letting them know she believes in them. She has three children of her own whose curiosity and creativity led two of them into STEM related professions.
Lindsay: Welcome, Laura! Thank you for joining us today. What are some things you learned in the process of writing and publishing your story Aliana Reaches for the Moon, and in turn, what do you hope readers take away from it?
Laura: I have learned so much about publishing since I first sat down to write about Aliana in August, 2016. The original manuscript was almost 2000 words and included several plot points that are long gone. I made some mistakes, including querying it before it was ready, and not really listening to feedback or understanding how to apply it until a year later at the Southampton Writers Conference. I spent the first week of the conference in a group workshopping my novel and attending every event offered with the incredible faculty of authors. This brought me to a different place as a writer. Then, I spent the second session in a small group of picture book writers, many of whom were fellows in the Stonybrook Children’s Literature program with Emma Walton Hamilton. Listening to Emma’s advice to others in the group and hearing her assessment of my own work led me a new understanding of revision. It was during this week that ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON was finally on the right track and resembling the book that it is now.
As far as take aways, I want children to embrace curiosity and creativity. The research shows that curiosity in children is correlated to learning and intelligence. As parents, we need to embrace this and allow children to try figuring things out their own way. They learn by doing.
As Grace Wolf-Chase, PhD; Astronomer at the Adler Planetarium in Chicago said: “ALIANA REACHES FOR THE MOON encourages all children – and especially girls – to read, explore, experiment, and to take notice of the natural world. There’s even an important message for parents – doing science can be messy.”
Lindsay: You post a lot of beautiful, nature-inspired work on your blog. How does being in nature inspire your own creative writing, and do you have any thoughts on how aspiring writers can use nature as inspiration?
Laura: Nature has always been an inspiration for me. Even when I lived in the city and suburbs of Chicago, I admired shapes in clouds, sunsets, Lake Michigan, and one of my favorite places was the Chicago Botanic Garden in Glencoe where I lived for many years. I loved walking around the block with my children, and later my students, and looking at things they noticed. We talked about flowers, leaves, insects, bark on different trees … anything and everything is interesting to them.
Coming to the mountains has given me a new appreciation for nature, and was the primary reason for moving here. In the first month of living here, I was mesmerized by the sound of the aspen leaves in the wind. I took some videos and my city friends were appreciative. When I mentioned it to my cousin who has lived here for 30 years, she rolled her eyes. I know I’ve only been here two and a half years, but I am still amazed by the beauty almost every day. I wake up to exquisite sunrises that rival works of art from the masters. The pines, laden with snow or frost is a magical sight. The snow-covered peaks of the Continental Divide welcome me home each day as I drive. How can that not be inspiring? Of course, most people don’t have the views I currently enjoy but as writers, it’s our responsibility to be observers. As picture book writers, it’s even more important to notice things through the eyes of a child, in other words for the first time and with an open imagination.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us, and for creating a sweet story that celebrates kids who love looking up at the stars! You can find my review of her new book here.
You can connect with author Laura on her blog here.