What made you want to write for children?
As a child I was an avid reader. I read everything from comic books to Nancy Drew to books like Charlotte’s Web and The Outsiders. I’m still an avid reader, and I still love children’s literature. In fact, I think some of the best writing being published is coming from children’s book authors! I do think of writing books for adults, but my ideas always seem to come to me as books for kids. Maybe it’s because I work with kids as a high school English teacher. Maybe it’s because I remember being a kid and how hard it was. Whatever the reason, I am proud to be a children’s book author!
What were your first steps ?
The very first step to becoming a writer is being a reader. Next, writing a first draft helps a lot! It’s also one of the hardest steps. In fact, I much prefer REwriting to writing that first draft. I actually LOVE rewriting – adore it, it’s the best! But that first draft is killer! Then, after the first draft and multiple rewrites, it’s time to submit the story to publishers. That’s when the rejections start rolling in. Finally an acceptance comes along, and all that hard work is suddenly worth it! There is nothing like getting published after all that writing and rewriting – well, maybe a big scoop of mint chocolate chip icecream on a sugar cone is close, but not quite!
What was the first book you ever published?
My first picture book was THE LONG SILK STRAND, which was published by Boyds Mills Press in 1995. My first middle grade novel was BEHIND THE BEDROOM WALL, published by Milkweed Editions. Imagine a girl during WWII who loves Hitler who finds out her parents are hiding a Jewish family behind her bedroom wall! This novel is still selling strong – and the musical version of it just premiered this past spring.
What kind of stories do you think children relate to most?
Children relate to stories that don’t preach or talk down to them. No one wants to be hit over the head with a lesson or a moral. At least I didn’t when I was a kid. I wanted entertainment and escape from everything. Children look for a main character they can relate to, like a character who could be a friend.
How can we find out more about your work?
A good way to find out about me is to Google my name: “Laura E. Williams” When you Google a name, be sure to put it in parenthesis as I just did above. You could also check out my website at www.readlauraewilliams.com. Hopefully it’ll be up and running by this summer!
What inspired you to write BIBIM BAP FOR DINNER?
Bibim Bap is a Korean dish that I learned about when I went to Korea several years ago. I was actually born in Seoul Korea and adopted when I was 1 1/2 years old. I don’t remember anything from when I was an infant. But when one of my former students was there teaching English, I jumped at the chance to visit her. In my time there, I grew to love Korean cuisine. When Bebop Books asked for proposals for books, I thought about having a kid making a traditional Korean dish. Bibim Bap is easy to make and fun to eat.