Debbie: Elizabeth, please tell us a little about yourself.
Elizabeth: I grew up in Vermont and planned to be a teacher. I had hoped to teach elementary school, but discovered that to do so I’d have to sing a solo in front of a college music class. Yikes! Hopes dashed! So I became a 7-12 English teacher instead. After a few years teaching high school English, I realized that the students didn’t enjoy reading, so I decided to become an elementary school librarian. Maybe, if I met them sooner, I could promote reading. School library work was terrific! But when my husband transferred to a new state, I couldn’t find an elementary school job. I became a college reference librarian.
Writing has always been my secret passion, and I was lucky enough to have a few pieces published while working at other jobs. After yet another move, I began writing full-time. I write mostly nonfiction, so my reference experience has come in handy. In fact, I staff the reference desk at Grand Rapids Community College from time to time.
Good libraries are essential to my work. Michigan has excellent college and public libraries. Since I moved to Michigan in 2007, I’ve written over two dozen nonfiction books on topics like immigration, poetry, toilets, the Pledge of Allegiance – well, you get the idea. I love what I do, and I’m happy to be doing it in Michigan!
Debbie: What an amazing array of topics! And I definitely agree with you about Michigan's excellent libraries.
In addition to your nonfiction, please also tell us about your latest book.
Elizabeth: I write fiction, too. My newest is a picture book, Cedric and the Dragon, published June 2010 by Alma Little and illustrated by Nina Victor Crittenden. It’s the story of an unlikely hero – a little prince who prefers hugging to fighting. When he meets a fire-breathing dragon face-to-face, he has to find a way to save himself – and the kingdom.
Debbie: And do you have other books and projects on the horizon?
Elizabeth: Currently I’m working on books about storms, diseases, and Colonial America.
Debbie: How about upcoming appearances?
Elizabeth: I’ll be at Rockford Reads on August 7 in Rockford, Michigan. In October, I’ll be leading a nonfiction workshop at the SCBWI Michigan conference.
Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan?
Elizabeth: I love visiting the towns along Michigan’s “west coast” and wandering along the shoreline. There’s no more relaxing or inspiring way to spend a sunny day.
Debbie: That's such a beautiful area of the state. How about your favorite Michigan event or happening?
Elizabeth: The county fairs are terrific! Last summer my husband and I went to fairs in Ottawa, Allegan, and Barry County. At Barry, we saw two large litters of newborn piglets and a surprisingly good karaoke contest (featuring humans, of course, not the pigs!).
Debbie: Though karaoke cows would definitely be fun to see! Sounds like a great children's book idea...
Elizabeth, tell us about a few fun Michigan people we should all know about.
This is the blog of NYT-bestselling children's book author Deborah Diesen.
On this blog, I run weekly profiles of Michigan or Michigan-related authors. Some are authors of books for grown-ups. Others are authors of books for kids. All are part of the great array of writing talent that Michigan has!
My blog also sometimes features bits of original poetry, the occasional workout DVD review, and other assorted odds and ends.