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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Passion for Picture Books, Barbara Bockman, Interview

This week, I am honored to introduce a newer member to Pens and Brushes, Barbara Bockman.  Barbara brought her Masters Degree in English with a great deal of modesty and her love of animals to our group.  With all of her experience in writing, she under plays her abilities and makes us feel like equals.  

Barbara, how did you decide that you would start to write picture books?

I am drawn to picture books because of the two elements that make them up: words and pictures. The story of a pb should be as meticulously written as a hundred thousand word novel and can be just as satisfying. I enjoy the challenge of attempting to say what I want to in as few words as possible. At this point, I’m a work in progress. The art -work of picture books is as varied as the number of artists. I hope I will always be happy with the illustrator my publishers choose for my stories. The hard part of writing picture books is in providing the illustrator with ideas so he can contribute his equal share in the collaboration.

Is there an area of the story that gives you the most satisfaction in developing and exploring?

I think conflict is the area of the story that I get the most satisfaction in developing. It wasn’t always like that. When I started writing for children, I wanted everything to be comfortable and sweet.  I think one of the best pieces of writing advice I got was, “a situation does not a story make.” Now when I think of a situation I want to develop into a story, I work on creating some conflict that will propel the plot to the “sweet” ending I want.

Is there any particular area that you find the frustrating or difficult to develop?

I’m never sure that I have fleshed out my characters enough and that is frustrating. It’s not that I don’t know them. It’s probably because I know them so well that I take a lot for granted and assume the reader can read-between the lines.

Barbara, if you could choose a pb author to spend a day with, who would that be and what would you want to receive from your time with them? 

I would love to spend the day with Maj Lindman, the author of the Snipp, Snapp, and Snurr books and the Flicka, Ricka, and Dicka books. I remember one story in particular when the boys fell into a vat of chocolate and were covered in chocolate batter (or maybe it was gingerbread).  The stories are funny and sweet and have heart. Of course, as I do not speak Swedish, I might have a hard time communicating with Ms. Lindman.

What was your favorite picture book as a child?

My favorite books when I was very young were the Raggedy Ann and Andy books. I think it might have been because I had the dolls and enjoyed playing with them.  The books were very colorful and the plots of the stories were not too complicated. And I loved the titles of the books: The Camel with the Wrinkled Knees, Betsy Bonnet String, Beloved Belinda. These books might have been the source of my appreciation for language and word play.

Barbara, thank you for joining me on my blog.  You quickly engaged with the group and despite your busy schedule with book releases and signings manage to be present for each member and all of our weekly exchanges.  You model great finesse as a busy author for all of us in Pens and Brushes. 

Here is a little more about Barbara:

Barbara was married for 38 years to the most wonderful man she ever knew. He was a Lt. Colonel in the Army. They lived in various places, such as Japan, Germany, Virginia, Kansas, and West Point. Besides their daughter and son, her husband had a daughter and son by a previous marriage. Altogether she has eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Barbara taught elementary school for several years and then completed a Masters Degree in English, She taught English at Pensacola Junior College in Florida.  Barbara enjoys crocheting and needlepoint as well as gardening for butterflies. Her house is over-run with books, especially books for children.

To learn more about Barbara you can go to her website at : Barbara Bockman

You can purchase her book wounds at: Muse It Up Publishing

Her book Fantastic Flight can be purchased at: Guardian Angel Publishing


Evelyn said...

It was such fun to get to read your interview, Barbara. I loved having you share your thoughts about picture books and getting to hear more about your family. You have some great looking grandchildren! Congratulations again on the publication of your Wounds and Fantastic Flight!

Tina said...

Nice interview, Barbara and Diane. Lovely photo of you and your grandkids!

Mirka Breen said...

It's a pleasure to learn more about you, Barbara. Thank you for hosting, Diane.

BarbaraB said...

Hi Evelyn, Tina, and Mirka. Thank you for your comments and congratulations.
Diane, your idea of having other picture book writers share their passion for picture books is wonderful. For me, it helped to clarify my own motives and I am grateful to you for that. I'm also grateful to Priya for nominating me to become a member of a group that is so professional.

Ellen Jackson said...

I, too, loved FLICKA, RICKA, and DICKA and the SNIP, SNAP, SNUR books as a child. And thank you for the quote: “A situation does not a story make". I'll remember that. Thanks, Barbara!