Interview with Debut Author Vanessa Roam
By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: March 4, 2013
Debut author Vanessa Roam has stitched together a loving and feel-good story of three generations and how they are brought closer together through the acts of kindness and giving. Roam grew up in the small town, Treadwell, NY. Many of her extended family members resided within walking distance, including her grandmother, who would later inspire this special tale: A Remnant Surprise.
Bianca Schulze: A Remnant Surprise endeavors to show that “the sweetest gifts can come from the most unlikely sources.” Is there a particular line or segment from your book that that resonates with you the most? And how about your readers? What do they have to say?
Vanessa Roam: I think the story all comes together when Mama says, “…’all by themselves, they were just little bits that were not very useful and not very pretty. But when you put them together, they become very useful and very beautiful’…” This statement really solidifies the transformation of Great-Grandma’s leftovers into something she can treasure.
I am thankful for the overwhelmingly positive correspondence from the readers. Children like this story about Gretchen, Walter and their Great-Grandma. Many adult readers have contacted me to share how this story has rekindled warm recollections of love for them and it is touching to hear their special memories. Of course, quilters and crafters are embracing this story which illustrates the “heart” behind so many handmade projects. Many readers have complimented Ms. Glori Alexander’s beautiful illustrations. Here are some direct quotes from a few readers: “…teaches children about love and the true meaning of giving…”, “…makes you think about your family and how important everyone is…” and “…about the contagiousness of love and kindness…”
BS: From the conception of the idea to published work, how long did it take you to complete A Remnant Surprise?
VR: The idea for A Remnant Surprise came to me one night during the summer of 2010. I was putting my children to bed and, as soon as they fell asleep, I sat down and wrote the entire story. I submitted the manuscript winter 2010 and the book was officially released in December 13, 2011.
BS: Glori Alexander created your illustrations. How closely, if at all, did you work with her on the artwork?
VR: Ms. Alexander and I spent a bit of time on the phone discussing the illustrations and how they would combine with the text. I wanted her to have the freedom to express her artistic talent on this project. She selected the style and medium and honored my request that the pictures match the text in detail. Her creativity took off as we collaborated on her ideas for the book, sometimes on the phone and sometimes through email. I really enjoyed working with her for so many reasons.
BS: Your book is available in paperback, hardcover and as an audio book. Did you do the reading for the audio version? We’d love to hear about the process of working with your publisher on the various formats.
VR: The audio version of A Remnant Surprise was recorded in a studio, read by a professional narrator. I actively participated in all processes of production, from editing to the final proof and even in the design of the book trailer and coloring book. Each department of production shared their ideas and respected my vision for the project. Once each stage was complete, it was presented for my approval. It was a very stress-free process with everyone working together in an organized way.
BS: What would you say surprises you the most about the book publishing process?
VR: I was surprised by how much I was able to participate in each step of the process.
BS: Should we expect to see more children’s books from you?
VR: The next children’s book, Tippy Tip, just went into contract! The characters (Gretchen and Walter) from A Remnant Surprise also star in this new story.
BS: Where do you think your love of writing came from? Do you have a favorite author—one that inspired your own writing, perhaps?
VR: Ever since I was a small child, I enjoyed sharing stories and ideas with others. As soon as I was able, I began to write as a way of communicating with the people in my life. I believe writing is my gift to share with the rest of the world.
My writing is inspired by my life experiences. I honestly cannot decide on a favorite author. There are numerous talented authors… in various genres… from every time period, and I enjoy so many of them.
BS: You grew up in a home where reading was nurtured and now you are a homeschooling mother of two. How do you recommend families nurture reading in the home?
VR: Start early and be diligent! Make sure your children see you reading. Take a few minutes each day to sit close to your child and read to them to allow the child to associate reading with happiness, peace and comfort. Babies in utero can hear when Mama reads aloud, or even someone else sitting close by. Infants will find comfort in the rhythm and sounds of a familiar person reading out loud to them. For the older child, daily, short and consistent practice reading out-loud with an active adult supplies the needed building blocks for a child to develop reading fluency. Provide them with a large selection of resources in different formats and refresh their options often. Match individual interests with materials that cover those subjects. I have seen reluctant readers become totally absorbed in reading books that appeal to them in either format or subject. Many times a reluctant reader is either a struggling reader or a bored reader and finding the root of the problem is high priority. One of the most important gifts to a child is an ability to read well. A person who can read well can learn to do or understand almost anything, but a person who struggles with reading will see that struggle carry over into many areas of their life.
BS: As a parting note, is there anything you would like to share with your readers?
VR: I have developed some free activities to complement the A Remnant Surprise story. I have also made available a free printable coloring page from the coloring book edition. You can find them on the Children’s Page of my website, www.vanessaroam.com. I sincerely appreciate all of the wonderful comments from my readers. I am really thankful this story has been meaningful and touching for so many people. I also thank you, Ms. Bianca Schulze, for the opportunity to discuss this book with you and your readers.
Read TCBR’s review of A Remnant Surprise.
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