Monday, June 30, 2008

Michigander Monday: Boni Ashburn

Today begins a new feature on Jumping the Candlestick: Michigander Monday. Each Monday (or every other Monday some weeks), I will be posting a Q&A with a different Michigan children's book writer or illustrator.

The talented and delightful Boni Ashburn, who lives 500 miles from my doorstep (I toss in that mileage tidbit to give you non-Michiganders an idea of the scope of our state) has graciously agreed to be the first featured author.

Debbie asks: Tell us a little about yourself.
Boni replies: I'm a married mother of four who never planned to get married or have kids. I live in a place I loved visiting as a child, but never expected to live in. I'm a middle-aged writer who never thought she'd ever be middle-aged OR a writer. And I'm doing what I love to do more than anything (write children's books) and I never even considered it a possible vocation when I was planning out my life. Which, as you can tell, didn't turn out as planned, but is exactly what I wanted and didn't know it - ha!

Debbie: And of course we want to know all about your book!
Boni: My first book, Hush, Little Dragon, just came out in March from Abrams Books For Young Readers. It's illustrated by Kelly Murphy, whose work is magnificent. The whole experience has been great from beginning to end. The book is a new twist (some might say a twisted twist!) on the Hush Little Baby lullaby: Mama Dragon finds various castle-dwellers (a princess, a mean old queen, three musketeers and others) to fill her Baby's tummy before he settles down for bed and drifts off to sweet sleep. It's a little bit dark, a little bit funny (I hope) and a little bit sweet. I had a blast writing it and am so glad it turned into my first book!

Debbie: Other books and projects on the horizon?
Boni: I have two other books under contract with Abrams. One is a follow-up to Hush (more of a companion book than a sequel) called Over At The Castle. And the other one, for the time being, is top-secret. As soon as I find out who the illustrator for that one is, I get to tell the world. And believe me, I'll be shouting it from the rooftops (and on my blog and on my website...) - I love this particular manuscript and it's very different from Hush, yet I had just as much fun writing it. Other than that, I have irons in various fires that I am blowing on patiently (or at least as patiently as I can!)

Debbie: Your favorite place in Michigan (or places, if you can't settle on just one)?
Boni: Well, until a couple of weeks ago, it was two, but now it's three! I have lived in the Upper Peninsula for the last 13 years and came up here to vacation as a child living in Illinois and Colorado. We always stayed at our family cottage on Agate Beach and I have SO many good memories that I have to make that Number One. I love Agate Beach! Even now that we are so much closer to it and get there more often (though not as often as we'd like with all the "city" activities we have all the time), it's what I immediately think of when I hear "Michigan.
Number Two would be Isle Royale. Possibly the most beautiful place on earth. When my kids were young and, um, overwhelming, my parents took me several years in a row for a birthday trip to "The Island" on their boat - just me, Mom and Dad for a few days of relaxation while hubby watched the kids. Wonderful! Lately, life has been too busy for it, but I think everyone should experience The Island at least once.
Number Three (the newest addition) would be Mackinac Island. I just went there for the first time ever and I loved it! When I'm rich and famous, I'm totally summering there on even years and Isle Royale on odd years :)

Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?
Boni: When the SNOW MELTS!! We get over 300" a season up here, and I like snow as much as the next person, but by May, enough is enough :)
[Sidenote from Debbie: I cribbed the photo to the left from Boni's blog. It's from Michigan Tech's Winter Carnival. For a bit more about this snowy celebration, see Boni's blog entries about snow. Then, go ahead and read the rest of her blog. It's a good one.]

Debbie: And a few fun Michigan people we should all know about? Boni: One of the children's writers I admire most happens to live here: Lisa Wheeler! She's a children's book-writing genius! Meeting her and "hanging out" with her on a few occasions has been a highlight of my career so far and probably happened because we both live in Michigan. Otherwise I never would have had the nerve to even say "Hi!" to her.

Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state.
Boni: The Upper Peninsula is not even IN the mitten, but it's definitely the "better half".

Debbie: For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Boni: I'm a Michigander, but my kids are Yoopers!!

Debbie: Thank you, Boni, for being the debut author on Michigander Monday!!


Lori Van Hoesen said...

great interview! Nice to meet you, Boni. :o)


Anonymous said...

Hi, a very interesting read. People may find Baynard's DiscoveryBoxBooks well worth a look.

Boni Ashburn said...

Thanks, Debbie (and Lori!)

I just got back from vacation and what a nice post to see! Can't wait to see who's next :)