A few weeks ago I was part of a panel at the Frick Art & Historical Center discussing kid’s books, writing and illustrating them and getting them published. The panel was in part in conjunction with their current exhibit: Draw Me a Story: A Century of Children’s Book Illustration, but it was also to celebrate Women’s History Month.
We talked about our influences in writing and reading kid’s books, including influential female characters and writers. I explained that I wasn’t a very good reader growing up—not that I had trouble reading, but that I just wasn’t interested in doing it. I was what publisher’s now refer to as a “reluctant reader,” which generally is code for “boys.”
When I wrote Twisted: Tales to Rot Your Brain, I had no trouble keeping that young, reluctant reader in me in mind. I wrote short, short stories that would work well with the short-attention-spanned reader I used to be. I also illustrated many of the stories in the book which addressed the “pictures or it didn’t happen” side of my reading brain. And, for the part of me that wasn’t interested in the subjects that were available for me to read at the time, I wrote about the things that might have kept my attention.
So I guess I wrote this book for the me I used to be, but I’m hoping it sticks with other readers who are struggling to pay attention as much as I did. And those readers aren’t just the boys in the room. I’m proof.