Thursday, April 21, 2011

7 Questions For: Author Stephanie Barden

Stephanie Barden is the author of Cinderella Smith

Click here to read my review. 

Here is an excerpt from the bio on her webpage:

My first book, Cinderella Smith, comes out in April 2011. A second book, Cinderella Smith and the More the Merrier, will come out in 2012. A third Cinderella book, as yet untitled, will follow in 2013.

I love writing, letting my story swallow me up and take me where it will, but it can be lonely. So I’ve found it’s important to surround myself with good friends. My desk is in the kitchen which forces my family to wander past occasionally and my dog, Otis, always lies right by my feet. I also have two crows that hang out outside my window every day, keeping one eye on me and one eye on their food, (dry dog food).

Besides writing, I spend a lot of time being a mom and a little time teaching classes at Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle. That’s where I live, by the way, along with Joe, Otis, those two crows I mentioned and my husband, Tom. I’ve spent most of my life here, other than five years in Northern California, and love it most of the time. Except when the wintery part of autumn arrives and it’s cold and dark and wet and I know I have at least four more months like this ahead of me. The good news is, the weather inspires me to stay inside at my computer, writing away and feeling sorry for those two crows outside eating dog food.

And now Stephanie Barden faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?
I have six favorite books – I tried to cull it down to three to answer this question, but I just can’t. They are: Go Dog Go, Charlotte’s Web, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, To Kill a Mockingbird, In the Land of Dreamy Dreams and The Doubtful Guest.
Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?
In my dreams I’d like to spend 4 hours day writing and at least an hour a day reading -- so maybe 24 and 10 a week? Right now I’m trying to navigate promoting my first book and it’s taking way too much time away from the pleasures of writing and reading.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?
I first got the itch to write when my son was young and we spent hours together reading and making up stories. When he started school I started taking writing classes. The older he got, the more serious I got. I joined SCBWI and started attending conferences. Three years ago I finally felt like I had something worth sharing. I queried 20 agents, got 18 rejections, one maybe and one yes. My agent, (first Craig Virden then Marietta Zacker, both of the Nancy Gallt Literary Agency), helped me polish up the manuscript and sent it off to potential publishers. Two were interested and I chose to work with Barbara Lalicki at HarperCollins. She works with Beverly Cleary, one of my idols, so I knew I'd be in good hands with her.
Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?
I think we’re both born and taught – at least that’s the way it was for me. You have to enjoy the creative process and understand the nuts and bolts. You also have to persevere – stay at your desk, type away, ignore the sun and the garden – at least sometimes!
Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?
My favorite thing about writing is losing myself in my story and being surprised by my characters. My least favorite thing is trying to promote my book. Maybe that’s because I don’t really understand how to do it yet – maybe I’ll like it better when I know what I’m doing.
Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Karen Cushman said the following in an interview and I printed it up and taped it to my computer:

1. Show up – make a commitment to write.

2. Pay attention – stuff yourself with honest experiences.

3. Tell the truth – based on your own beliefs and passions.

4. Let go of the outcome – publication is only one reason to write.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Oh gosh, (see answer number one.). I think I’d like to have a luncheon with P.D. Eastman, E.B. White, E.L. Konigsburg, Harper Lee, Ellen Gilchrist and Edward Gorey. I have drug their books around for years – through college dorms, first apartments and several homes. They each have a prominent place on my book shelf as well as in my heart.


  1. Great interview. I loved hearing about Stephanie's road to publication and all her advice to aspiring authors. I'd love to hear how she's marketing her debut book. It sounds really good.

  2. Does the author lunch have to be with an MG author? I can't stop thinking about that question, and I'm not sure mine would be with an MG many to choose from! I'd never be able to answer that question. :) But Stephanie did a great job with it.


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