A Look Behind the Scenes with Author Linda Jones
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 14, 2012
Linda Jones is a mom, wife, poetry enthusiast, and has sold several titles commercially in the scrapbooking market. Alphabet Anatomy is her first series of children’s books and Jones dishes on the inspiration for her series and the collaboration with her illustrator son. Learn more at: http://alphabetanatomy.com.
Bianca Schulze: Welcome to TCBR. Let’s get started by getting to know a little bit about who you are and how you came to write Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters.
Linda Jones: Well, I’m just a New York girl at heart but I’ve lived in Arizona for more than 30 years now. I was born in Albany and still miss the beautiful green trees there. You know, in Arizona it’s a chore to get grass to grow. I’ve been blessed with four talented sons and a great husband. Especially for us moms, I think we all have our own interests and hobbies and things that we’re passionate about. For me, that just happens to be writing; it’s one of my most favorite things to do. It allows me to escape into my own little world for a while.
Writing the verses for “Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters” was actually just an effort to help my youngest son, Branson, perfect his letter writing skills, which was about ten years ago. Back then, there was no intention of a book and I filed the verses away in my file cabinet and just found them again last year while cleaning it out. I started laughing when I read the verses again and decided to ask Branson if he could make some drawings since he has displayed exceptional artistic ability as he’s gotten older. Branson illustrated the letters so well and I know that rhyming is really beneficial for children; so I made a mock book and brought it to the local library for feedback. The librarian praised it and commented that parents had often asked for a book instructing on letter writing but she had not known of any. That gave me the encouragement I needed to publish, and Alphabet Anatomy was born.
BS: Using rhyme and illustrations, readers are introduced to the letters of the alphabet. Persona has been given to each one and the focus is on the letters’ sound and shape. Which letter would you say is the most fascinating character?
LJ: That’s a great question, Bianca. I think all of the letters are fascinating, especially since, in Alphabet Anatomy, each letter’s shape and sound has evolved as a result of its life, and each letter’s anatomy also defines its activities and interests. For instance, letter H has a history of a half-yard height deficit among her hometown friends. That’s why she habitually hops on four-foot high, hickory-wood handmade stilts. In addition to her pizza-making pizzazz, Letter P trained her patriotic parrot to recite the Pledge of Allegiance in polka-dot pajamas with punctual precision. With his book constantly imbedded on his head, letter I has acquired the innate ability to intercept and implant information directly to his brain, making him quite an innovative investigator. Letter U has an utterly uncanny ability to undertake most of his daily upkeep underwater, which makes his mother understandably uneasy. So those are some pretty amazing feats.
BS: I read that you have been writing poetry since 1977. Did the rhymes for each letter come to you quite easily?
LJ: I wrote my first poem in 1977; it was about my grandfather who had passed away the year before. Yes, the rhymes for the letters did come pretty easily once I began looking closely at the letters’ shapes. It was much more difficult to think of a title for the book. It was a few days before Alphabet Anatomy suddenly popped into my head. Expanding upon the letters’ personalities for future titles was really a lot of fun. My family and I shared a lot of laughs as I read to them how the letters were developing. I also tried to focus on building a rich vocabulary when describing the letters since that’s also a huge component to a child’s academic success. The dictionary was my best friend for several weeks.
BS: Where do you think your love of poetry and language came from? Do you have a favorite poet, one that inspires your own poetry writing, perhaps?
LJ: Well, I just know that written words can be so powerful. I love poetry especially because I can create a beautiful message that will stir emotion and evoke a thought, idea, or call to action. As far as favorites, I like reading a lot of different authors but I especially love the classic, timeless words of Helen Steiner Rice and I think Dr. Seuss was brilliant. I love the flow of rhyming verse and it’s always a challenge to get those words just right. I’m definitely a dreamer and writing is a way for me to convey my thoughts into something tangible that I truly hope will make a difference in our world. I want to contribute to all those ideals that are good and noble and honorable.
BS: From the conception of the idea to published work, how long did it take you to complete Alphabet Anatomy: Meet the Capital Letters?
LJ: Once I found the verses again and decided to publish, the whole process probably took close to one year. There was quite a bit of research involved for different aspects of the book, in addition to just having the main content.
BS: Your son Branson is the illustrator. I imagine he had a lot of fun creating the pictures to match your rhymes and I’m sure it was a great relationship strengthener as you worked together towards the finished project. Would you share a little about the process of collaboration between mother and son?
LJ: Yes, Branson created the original drawings for all of the letters. I’m so proud of his ability to capture each letter’s personality so vividly, and he did it pretty much instantly. It wasn’t until he created the drawings that we decided to go ahead and make a book, so I couldn’t have done this without him. Really the only input I gave Branson was to be sure to keep the letters tall and straight to maintain the educational value so as to properly instruct on writing them. I know Branson enjoyed creating the letters and he’s really proud of them too. I do want to mention that Toby Mikle played a role in the illustration process by adding color and putting the letters in publishing format.
BS: Should we expect to see more children’s books from you in the future?
LJ: Absolutely! “Meet the Lower Case Letters” is already written and illustrated and will be coming out sometime next year. Two other titles are written but not yet illustrated. We’re also planning audio versions and hope to do other products. The letters want to star in their own individual books as well and they have a multitude of joint adventures to share. And I also have a few ideas wholly apart from Alphabet Anatomy.
BS: You have said: “In Alphabet Anatomy, the letters love to share their lives, and their highest aspiration is that each child who meets them will embrace this wondrous journey, and develop a life-long love for not only reading but writing as well.” How do you foster the love of reading and writing in your home?
LJ: Reading and writing fluently are the most critical skills that every child must acquire to progress through school and build a successful future. I always stressed that to my sons. I encouraged them to read not only for the educational value but to experience the thrills, emotions, discoveries, and adventures that books evoke and create. Of course, we went to the library a lot and shared bedtime stories. As far as writing, whenever I reviewed their homework, they knew they had to have correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation in addition to good content. I think encouraging children to read at a very young age is one of the best things a parent can do. I believe every child can aspire to be a good writer, and parents should definitely stress good writing skills.
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
LJ: I would just like to say thank you to my readers who take the time to review Alphabet Anatomy and share it with their children. As the author, it’s exciting to see the potential Alphabet Anatomy has to not only entertain children but also to help make a lasting and positive difference in their educational foundation. I couldn’t ask for anything more rewarding than that.
Twitter link: https://twitter.com/AlphabetAnatomy
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