Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A to Z Challenge: I is for Interview

An interview with award-winning children's author, Donna McDine by Amy O'Quinn

Amy: How did you come up with the idea to write a book about a young boy who helps a slave escape? 

Donna: I have always had a fascination for American History and living in the historical hamlet of Tappan, New York is a constant reminder of the rich history of our country. And when the opportunity arose at the end of the Institute of Children’s Literature Writing for Children and Teenagers course to create an outline for a book idea I naturally gravitated towards the Underground Railroad.
Amy: How much research was involved and how long did it take to write the book? 
Donna: I initially visited my local library and researched both children’s and adult books on the Underground Railroad. The wealth of information was endless, but once I focused on the central character being the son of a slave owner the story flowed. From start to finish after research it took about a year to edit and fine tune the manuscript to feel confident enough to submit to the Writer’s Digest Writing Competition. After placing 12th in the Children’s/Young Adult category I then met Lynda Burch of Guardian Angel Publishing and submitted. After several more edits and expansion of the story, Ms. Burch offered me my first children’s book contract, adding about another two years to the process. It may seem like a long time, but it’s all worth it.
Amy: How did you become a children's author?
Donna: After working for Fortune 500 companies for many years I came across the Institute of Children’s Literature ad and I was immediately intrigued. I eagerly completed their aptitude test and mailed it off. After a month or so I received my acceptance into their “Writing to Children and Teenagers” course and haven’t looked back since.

Amy: What advice do you have for young aspiring authors?
Donna: Just like taking up an instrument or sport - practice, practice and practice some more is essential in honing your writing skills. Participate in writer’s workshops in the genre you are interested in is a key component in developing your unique voice. Many times people think writing for children is a snap, when it is the complete opposite. Children are quite intuitive and know when you are preaching or speaking down to them.
Studying the market and what publishers want is imperative. If your goal is to write for children’s magazines, taking the time out to read back issues will provide you with insights on the direction of a particular magazine. For children’s book publishers, review their catalogues for what they are currently publishing. You may just find a niche that needs to be filled. And whether you are submitting to children’s magazines or children’s book publishers reading their submission guidelines is imperative. I cannot stress enough how important it is to follow the specific guidelines to the “letter.” Even if you go over the word count by a few words it can mean instant rejection.
Never be afraid to ask questions. We all have something to learn each and every day and you’ll be surprised how many people have the same question as you.
Happy writing to you all and let your voice soar.

Visit with A to Z Challenge bloggers - http://www.a-to-zchallenge.com/
Thank you for visiting!
Best wishes,
Donna M. McDine
Award-winning Children's Author
The Golden Pathway ~ August 2010 ~ Guardian Angel Publishing, Inc.
http://guardianangelpublishing.com/pathway.htm ~ Literary Classics Silver Award and Seal of Approval Recipient and Dan Poynter's Global e-Book Awards Finalist


  1. Hi Donna! Enjoyed the interview. Great letter I post.


  2. It's always refreshing to know where writers start and how they get inspired! Great post.

  3. Great post! I have to say I really enjoyed reading Donna's book.


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