Tammi Sauer had her first book, Cowboy Camp, published in 2005. She’s been on a book selling tear ever since. Her next two books were the hilarious Chicken Dance (illustrated by Dan Sanat) and the recently released Mostly Monsterly
Check out what Tammi says about revisions, fan mail, humor and her close brush with Swine Flu. At first, I thought she was joking about the Swine Flu incident and had to email her back just to ask. She confirmed it was true. Read the interview below and heed Tammi’s warning about being prepared for anything!
Thank you so much Tammi for the interview. Now get reading everyone and comment below if you’ve learned anything new about this outstanding Okie picture book writer.
Above all else, I’d like to know where your remarkable sense of humor came from?
My mom has a really great sense of humor. The best thing about her zingers is that each one is completely unexpected. She is a genius with the delivery. I would say my sense of humor comes from her and my ability to seek out the funny in just about any situation.
I’ve read that the first revision rule you follow is “Amp up the humor.” What other revision rules do you follow?
That’s not necessarily my first revision rule, but it is definitely one of the biggies. I also strive to raise the stakes, build in emotion, tighten the story, and make my words sing. Full singing disclosure: I never actually sing unless I am in the car, in the shower, or I have a burning need to embarrass my children in public.
Speaking of revision, which of your books needed the least revision work before it was sold and were you surprised?
Cowboy Camp needed the least revision work. Once I had the idea for that one, the book practically wrote itself. I wasn’t so much surprised as I was overjoyed.
I’ve noticed over the past few years of reading Live Journal, Twitter and looking at your website, that you place a strong emphasis on school visits. What is most enjoyable about your visits?
I love to celebrate reading and writing with kids—they are my number one audience. Getting hugs, fan mail, and quiet confessions (“I want to be an author when I grow up.”) are unbeatable.
Many authors don’t face school visits with your amazing amount of enthusiasm. What tips can you give authors so they love their next school visit instead of thinking of it as just another job on their PR to do list?
Realize that each school visit is An Event. Be funny, engaging, and accessible. And, when that cute little girl throws her arms around you and announces, “Guess what!! I have the Swine Flu!”, be prepared. Hand sanitizer is a Very Good Thing.
Do you get fan mail from young readers? If so, what is your most memorable letter?
Yes, I get fan mail. Oh, how I love it! This is my all time favorite letter:
Dear Mrs. Sauer:
Your [sic] the best. Your [sic] my hero and roll [sic] model. My dream is to right [sic] a book. Do not tell her this but I like you more than Kelly Clarkson.
Have your children ever suggested a subject for one of your books? Also, do you encourage them to write?
My kids are pretty awesome at helping me brainstorm. Also, since I am their primary chauffer, I have them read my work-in-progress to me as I drive. This gives me a stronger feel for the story’s rhythm and helps me to know if I need to tweak some of the words. I do encourage them to write. Sometimes I am tempted to steal their material.
What were your favorite picture books to read to your own children?
I loved reading Bark, George, No, David!, and anything really, really funny. Neither of my children were huge fans of nicey-nicey books. They wanted to be amused. Whenever I read a new picture book to my children, my son would always give it a thumbs up or say, “That’s a dud.”
Your latest book, MOSTLY MONSTERLY, is a monster of a hit right now. How do you explain your tremendous success? You seem to know exactly what children want to read.
I don’t think I am anywhere near being a “tremendous success.” I am not even on the same continent as “tremendous success.” I love writing books about imperfect characters who are likable, relatable, and root-worthy. If readers don’t care about the character, they won’t care about the story.
We know you love Bernadette’s Cupcakes but can you name any other types of cupcakes you regularly devour?
Mmmmm…I swoon over coconut cupcakes topped with strawberries.
Finally, since we all have at least two sides to our personalities, just like Bernadette, what is a secret side of Tammi that is rarely seen?
I love, love, love a book or a movie that will make me cry. I’m not talking a tear in the corner of my eye that I can dab away with a tissue. I’m talking “Terms of Endearment” cry.
Thanks so much for having me! 🙂
Click here to visit Tammi’s website.
Also, check out Mostly Monsterly at Amazon.com