Tuesday, October 20, 2009
The Unread - Interview with Ame Dyckman
<----See this chick in the photo here? That's Ame Dyckman. Isn't she adorable! Well, not only is she as cute as can be, Ame Dyckman is a picture book lover and writer, plus she blogs about peanut butter. Ame is knee deep in PB and is here to tell us about her writing, of course, but also a little about her agent. She's my first Unread interviewee who's represented. All right, all right, everyone stop drooling. Ame has been snatched up by Scott Treimel at S©ott Treimel NY. I know you want an agent too, but I told you people, stop drooling! You're going to ruin your computer! We'd better hurry up and get on to the interview.
Ame, when did you start writing and why in the world would you want to do such a thing?
I started 2 1/2 years ago. But for ages before that, a squeaky little voice in my head constantly pestered, “Ame! Go write children’s books! Ame! Go write children’s books!” I finally gave in so it would just shut up.
What is your writing schedule like?
I usually write in the mornings after MonkeyKid gets on the school bus and Mad Scientist Husband Guy leaves for the lab, and it’s just me and the menagerie (two mutant cats, two hermit crabs, a handicapped fish, and a part-time squirrel.) When I really must finish something without distractions, I pack up for “my” cubicle at the library. But I jot all day long, everywhere, on anything jot-able.
MONKEYKID: Mommy, why are there words on your jeans?”
ME: It’s the latest Mommy-fashion.
MONKEYKID: Can I do it?
What kinds of stories do you like to write?
Short and quirky picture books where the protagonists are different or have a different, innocent way of looking at the world. (With a little weirdness sprinkled on top.) And I love boy-energy stories!
So, how many manuscripts have you written and what have you done with them?
I have several terrible manuscripts keeping each other company in a padlocked trunk buried somewhere on my property. Super Agent Scott (Scott Treimel, S©ott Treimel NY) has submitted two of my good manuscripts, Boy and Bot and The Runaway Goldfish, to editors.
What are you working on now?
I’m just finishing two “sequel” Boy and Bot stories (tales of a boy who befriends a robot) for a marvelous editor who liked the original. And I’m doing revisions on a brand-new PB manuscript, Dragon Cake, which opens with a little boy hoarding meat in his closet.
What do you think is the hardest part about writing? What’s the easiest?
The hardest part has been convincing my 9-to-5 neighbors that I’m not just sitting around in my jammies. (The easiest part is that while I’m writing, I get to sit around in my jammies!)
Seriously, the hardest part is always being “on” to act on a shining idea whenever it smacks you in the head, before it dims away to “Now, what was that thought I had earlier?” The easiest part? Anything I do now is “research,” so I can get away with doing a lot of goofy stuff!
HUSBAND GUY: Ame, why is there a wading pool full of cereal in the front yard?
ME: It’s research.
HUSBAND GUY: Uh, okay. When’s dinner?
ME: Now. Grab a spoon. I’ll meet you in the yard.
You have a fabulous agent, I know it was talent, but how did you get so lucky?
I owe it all to NJ SCBWI. (New Jersey chapter, Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) Over the past year or so, I took Boy and Bot to various NJ SCBWI events (First Page Sessions, Mentoring Workshops, etc.). The suggestions I received were pure gold. The agent pitching tips I received were pure gold. The camaraderie and support I received were (you guessed it) pure gold. At the NJ SCBWI Annual Conference last June, I pitched the revised Boy and Bot to Scott, and he liked it! So… (climbs nearby mountain, grabs megaphone): “JOIN YOUR LOCAL SCBWI CHAPTER! IT WORKS!”
How has your writing life changed since you got an agent?
It’s fantastically improved! Scott has made my work a gazillion times better than before. (Five seconds into our first brainstorming session, he had a genius suggestion. He’s still having them.) Plus, he knows just about everyone in the business, he’s worked with just about everyone in the business, and I’m saving a fortune because I’m no longer buying fancy paperclips and eye-catching stamps. (Y’all know what I’m talking about. You know you do.) Bonus: he’s a great excuse for getting out of housework.
ME: Scott called! He wants revisions ASAP. Can you do the dishes?
(Sometimes, when I say this, Scott actually called.)
How far would you go to get your book published?
I’d wrestle a shark. Or Christopher Walken. (I’m equally afraid of them both.) I might even wrestle Christopher Walken while he’s riding a shark. (Shaking a little now.)
You have a great peanut butter-centric blog. Why peanut butter? (And what’s your favorite kind? I only eat Adams!)
Peanut butter is the quintessential kid food. (I mean, food that kids eat. Not food made out of kids. That would be gross.) It just goes with picture books. (Sometimes, in them. Sorry, librarians!) Voila! “PB Planet: Picture Books with a Side of Peanut Butter.”
My favorite kind? Reduced Fat Jif Creamy. (I think they replace the removed fat with sugar. It’s my vroom! fuel.) And, I like the kind inside mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, but everybody gets annoyed when I gut them.
HUSBAND GUY: Who sucked the insides out of this candy?
ME: I dunno.
MONKEYKID: Daddy, she’s hiding the straw behind her back!
Oh. I just Googled Adams PB. Organic. All-Natural. Very healthy. Lo, I am shamed!
If you could live in any book which one would it be and why?
Where the Wild Things Are. I’d love to live in a world where I could wild-rumpus all day long, and I’d never have to shave my legs.
So, what have we all learned today? That we desperately need agents so we can get out of housework, pants make a good paper replacement, and it is possible to suck peanut butter through a straw. Good stuff to know! You can visit Ame anytime over in her world a.k.a PB Planet. You can also follow her on twitter where she's bound to make you laugh. I would bet a barrel of peanut butter that Ame's picture books are going to be fun to read. Hopefully we'll find out soon!