Good morning everyone! Each month I will post a two part feature. The first part will be an interview with the month’s author and include a short bio. The second part of the feature is a sample of the writer’s work. Sounds fun right?
Everyone give a big welcome to August’s writer. *claps*
Meet Sandy Asher.
Sandy Asher is the author of 25 books, including the award-winning Too Many Frogs and its companions What A Party and Here Comes Gosling (all Philomel). She’s also the editor of seven anthologies, among them With All My Heart, With All My Mind, winner of the National Jewish Book Award in children’s literature (Simon & Schuster) and Writing It Right: How Successful Children’s Authors Revise and Sell Their Stories (Writer’s Institute Publications). Her stories, articles, and poems have been featured in a variety of anthologies, journals, and magazines, most recently Highlights High Five. Sandy’s plays have been performed across the country and abroad, and have been honored with a National Endowment for the Arts playwriting fellowship grant, three American Alliance for Theater and Education Distinguished Play Awards (for A Woman Called Truth, In the Garden of the Selfish Giant, and Jesse and Grace: A Best Friends Story, all Dramatic Publishing Company), AATE’s Charlotte Chorpenning Award for a distinguished body of work in children’s theater, and an Aurand Harris Fellowship grant from the Children’s Theatre Foundation of America. Six of her plays are included in Tell Your Story: The Plays and Playwriting of Sandra Fenichel Asher (Dramatic Publishing). Sandy’s most recent publication is a stage adaptation of Here Comes Gosling, available in both traditional and interactive versions from Dramatic Publishing. A Philadelphia native, Sandy now lives in Lancaster, PA, where she was named Lancaster County’s first Children’s Laureate.
Now onto the interview…
Tell us your latest news.
“Nice things happening on both the book and the playwriting sides of my work. May 15, 2016, saw the public debut of “Death Valley: A Love Story,” a film commissioned by Samaritan Counseling Center, here in Lancaster, PA, to be offered as a DVD and workbook for use in grief counseling. I wrote the screenplay based on my stage play of the same name, which is still in-progress. Meanwhile, over in France, a translation of another stage play, SUNDAY, SUNDAY, is being presented in Paris and on tour by stage and film actors Aurore Auteuil and Beata Nielska. My next picture book, CHICKEN STORY TIME, will be released by Dial Books for Young Readers on December 13, 2016, with hilarious illustrations by Mark Fearing.”
When and why did you begin writing?
“I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I was making up plays as early as second grade, encouraged by a theater-loving teacher, Mrs. Lomozoff, who had beautiful rod puppets she allowed us to play with and who also acted out scenes from “Arsenic and Old Lace” from time to time. For second graders! We loved it. I’d rehearse my tiny plays with friends in the cloak room when we’d finished our regular work. We presented them for our class and even went on tour around the school. In the summer, my friends and I performed on the sidewalk in front of my house on Diamond St. in Philadelphia, mostly for our own amusement. There was a movie theater on the corner where we spent many a Saturday in delicious darkness watching two feature films, a serial, cartoons, and the news. Then we’d emerge into the light and recreate the stories we’d seen, fighting over who would play which role. I started taking weekly dance classes at age 4 and began performing in recitals soon after, so that also whetted my appetite for story-sharing and all things theatrical. My final dance performance was as Clara’s mother in a production of “The Nutcracker Ballet.” I was in my early 40s and grudgingly realized I had to give up my life-long dream of playing Clara.”
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
“Marketing. I need to write, and I enjoy doing it, even when it’s difficult. I love to share my work and what I’ve learned about writing with others, pre-K to adult. But the never-ending slog of queries, submissions, rejections, long waits even for acceptances, and then even longer waits for publication or production simply wears me out. As does hawking my own work. Cruel and unusual punishment, I think, and growing worse in the current bottom-line driven worlds of publishing and production.”
What book are you reading now?
“SELECTED STORIES by Alice Munro. Superb.”
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
“I have my eye on a young woman named Lindsay Bandy who has just acquired a first-rate agent. I read a sample of Lindsay’s first novel as part of an SCBWI workshop program and have been following her blog, as well as working closely with her on SCBWI programs. She is, I am absolutely sure, the genuine article and I can’t wait to brag that I ‘knew her when.'”
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
“There have been many, teachers, writers, and directors among them, but if I must choose only one, I’d have to say Louisa May Alcott. Before I met her in the character of Jo March, I thought writing was a game. I had no idea one might aspire to do it professionally. In fact, I was brought up at a time when I was expected not to do anything professionally. Young ladies went to college to find a more educated (read: employable at higher wages) husband. Like Alcott herself, Jo strode off in a different direction. Many of us followed her. Imagine being paid to do something you love! She inspired us to dream and to make the dream come true.”
Click here to visit Sandy’s blog!
Check back tomorrow to see Sandy’s non-fiction piece entitled
REGARDING THE EMPEROR’S NEW CLOTHES adapted from the blog WRITERS AT WORK.