Monday, June 28, 2010

Michigander Monday: Elizabeth Raum

Today I'm pleased to welcome Elizabeth Raum to Michigander Monday!

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.

Elizabeth:  I’ve met some terrific writers here in Grand Rapids through the Michigan chapter of SCBWI. You probably know them: Sue Thoms, Kristin Nitz, Nancy Hull, Shirley Neitzel, and PJ Lyons. I hope everyone will go out and read their books if they haven’t yet done so. What fine writers they are!

Debbie:  I agree with you on that:  Michigan has such a great concentration of children's book talent!

For our out-of-state readers, tell us something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about Michigan.

Elizabeth:  I keep telling my Vermont family that we have beautiful fall foliage right here in Michigan, and in the spring, the flowering trees are gorgeous!

Debbie:  Agreed!  Finally, some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?

Elizabeth:  I’m proud to say I’m a Michigander!

Debbie:  Elizabeth, thank you so much for being here today!

To learn more about Elizabeth and her books, click here for her web site.  You'll find book information, school visit information, a biography, and more.

1 comment:

Susanne Drazic said...

Great interview! I enjoy author interviews because it's a wonderful way to learn new things about the authors that you may not learn from their blogs or websites.

Grand Rapids is a nice area to live. I've been there a few times.