Thursday, June 29, 2017

GET ON THE BUS, GUS--An Interview with Patty Toht-By Sherri Jones Rivers






   I first met Patty Toht at the WOW 2015 conference in Helen, Georgia. I found her to be fun, creative, and a truly kind person. Now I get to interview her about her wonderfully poetic All Aboard the London Bus. Let's get started.


     About how many revisions did you go through before the manuscript was acquired?

     Each poem in All Aboard the London Bus went through so many revisions that it's hard to count, and I'm so grateful to my critique buddies for their help and guidance in that process. The timeline for publication is a little easier to figure out because writing began the last month our family lived in England--November, 2013--and publication was May, 2017.




     Did you always intend on a UK publisher? Did you submit in the states?

     The first editor to take a peek at the manuscript was here in the States. Andrea Welch from Beach Lane Books critiqued it at the LA SCBWI conference in 2014. She liked it and shared it with her publisher but they felt the market in the US would be too small. But their praise gave me courage to pursue submitting it more widely in the UK. Frances Lincoln is a UK publisher with a love for poetry and was the perfect place to send it.

     
     Do you have an agent? 

     My agent is Julia Churchill from A.M. Heath Literary in London. I signed with Julia while our family was living in the U.K. We met at the SCBWI conference in England where she critiqued a picture book manuscript of mine. (SCBWI conferences have been great connectors for me. If you are serious about writing for children, an SCBWI membership is a must!)


     I know you lived in London for several years. Did you always have a love for all things English?

     I always had a love for travel and moving overseas was a goal for our family. Our years in London were magical ones and have cemented my love of the U.K.


                                                Englefield Green     

 My husband and I are returning for two weeks this summer and I can't wait!


     Were there some places/stops/attractions you had to leave out in your manuscript, or did you cover all the sights you wanted to?

     Four of the poems that I wrote for the book were edited out, and the editor asked for three to be added. I was especially sad to say goodbye to a poem about Piccadilly Circus, but then the illustrator, Sam Usher, set the "Rain" poem in that location, so it ended up in the book anyway.


     How do you feel about the art? I think it's fabulous. I especially love the way the artist wove the words into a "river" on the page about the Thames. The Tube page is awesome the way your words fill the page, and the Seek and Find page was an added bonus.


     I adore the artwork in the book and was so lucky to be paired with Sam Usher! He's incredibly talented and his illustrations are the perfect mix of architectural detail and whimsical action. The bird's eye view of London is magnificent. I wrote "The River



Thames" as a shape poem and Sam brought it to life on the page, although I had to edit away several lines to make it fit. I often wonder if Sam was ready to throttle me with "Seek and Find Trafalgar"--that's a lot of detail to squeeze into one spread! With "The Tube" poem, I'm not sure if it was the editor's idea or Sam's to curve the text, but what a clever idea that was.




     What challenges or surprises have you encountered along the way to publication?


     One thing that always surprises me is the variation of time it takes from selling a book manuscript to the time of its publication. All Aboard the London Bus is actually the third book I sold. Two books I sold in 2013 are waiting to be born--Pick A Pine Tree arrives on September 19, 2017, and Pick A Pumpkin will follow next autumn.


     Do you have a writing schedule? Where do you like to write? Do you use mentor texts?

   
     I'm really struggling with my writing schedule right now. Between work and marketing my 2017 books, I'm finding it hard to carve out time for writing. Luckily, my school job allows for a few summer months off--now I just have to figure out how to get myself unstuck! I don't have an office, so I usually write in a corner of the living room, much to the dismay of my family who are constantly stepping over my papers and books. And yes, I use mentor texts ALL the time. I firmly believe that reading hundreds and hundreds of picture books has given me an internal rhythm about page breaks and three-part movements.


     What is something folks might not know about you?

     How about something old and something new? Old--I owned a children's book store from 1988-1995; it was called Never Never Land, and I met my husband there when he stopped in to look at books. New--I started a new job this year working in a middle school library.


     What advice do you have for other kidlit writers working towards that debut picture book?

     Keep going! I am an incredibly late bloomer. I began writing for children in the mid-1990's, just at the time that children's books were heading into a deep slump. Between raising four kids and facing a tough market, I didn't have much success in selling my work for a long time. But a poetry class led me to writing poems
  

for children's magazines and that was my stepping stone to publication.



   Patricia Toht lives in the Chicago area with her husband and youngest son. She has three more adult children and one grandbaby. When she tires of the Chicago winter weather, she buys a lottery ticket, hoping to win it big and be able to spend her summers globe-trotting. You can visit her website at www.patriciatoht.com


 

44 comments:

  1. Wonderful interview and post, Sherri! Thank you, Patricia, for sharing your publishing journey with us! Your book is a treasure and I enjoy it even more each time I read it. Lovely job, Ladies!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Anne, your replies are always so encouraging. Thanks for posting.

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Anne! I'm so grateful to Sherri for the interview.

      Delete
  2. Such a dream com true for you< Patty. I love the design of this book. Great interview from our Sherri.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kathy, AKA Energizer Bunny, thanks for highlighting Patrica's debut book. She has many more to come, I would venture to say.

      Delete
    2. Agreed - and we hav done or two ourselves, keep on, sister.

      Delete
    3. "Energizer Bunny" is the perfect nickname for you, Kathy! You are always such a great supporter of fellow writers, and I know we all wish you the best with your writing, too.

      Delete
  3. Wonderful interview! I can't wait to read this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Emma, you won't be disappointed. That book's a keeper.

      Delete
  4. I just ordered your book! I love London and have been traveling there with my husband for years. I can't wait to read it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Tracy, for your comments. You will love the mix of art and text---a perfect marriage.

      Delete
  5. I can't wait to see it! Congrats Patty and thanks Sherri for a great interview! Nice to read these success stories.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Leslie, thanks. What an encouraging team we are!

      Delete
    2. Thank you, Leslie! I hope you enjoy it.

      Delete
  6. Congrats Patty on your debut picture book. Can't think of a better place to write about, as I, too, love London & was an expat there for seven years. To your continued success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah, a fellow London expat! Nice to meet you on the GROG, Patricia. London is an amazing place and very inspiring for me. I hope you have a chance to revisit often!

      Delete
  7. Patricia, thanks for posting. Her book will take you there

    ReplyDelete
  8. Terrific interview, Sherri :) Congrats, Patty, on your picture book success!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Charlotte. Have you been to London on your travels? I know you're quite the adventurer!

      Delete
    2. No. I've always wanted to go. Your book will take me there, Patty :) I look forward to your future books!

      Delete
    3. Hi, writer friend, Charlotte. Appreciate your comments.

      Delete
  9. Patricia thank you for sharing your journey. Good luck with all your new book babies 😊 Sherri thank you for the fun interview.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Janie! Those book babies have a very long gestation sometimes, but they're worth the trouble. :)

      Delete
    2. Hi, Janie. I had fun putting it together. Good subjects help!

      Delete
  10. Great interview, Sherri and Patty. What wonderful advice you included!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Penny! Children's writers are a wonderful group to be a part of, and I appreciate all of the advice you and others have given me on my journey.

      Delete
    2. Hi, Penny. Thanks for stopping by.

      Delete
  11. Thank you, Sherri, for taking the time to interview me about the book and for your fine post! Enjoy your summer!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Patricia, it was my extreme pleasure.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Great interview! Congrats to Patti on the book and to Sherri on a fabulous interview!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Ellen. I liked learning about how this book came to be.

      Delete
  14. This book looks wonderful! I've really gotten into reading children's poetry, lately. Can't wait to pick this one up!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fabulous interview! I love London and can't wait to read this beautiful book! And I look forward to your other books too (so interesting that they sold much earlier and are releasing later...the waiting game of publishing!). Congratulations!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Congrats, Patricia! I, like you am an Anglophile, so I can't wait to read it. Well done!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, fellow WOW person. Thanks for commenting.

      Delete
  17. Excellent interview. How neat you met your husband at your bookstore!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Thank you for sharing Patty's success with us, Sherri.

    I am impressed with your personal story and am pleased to read about your writing journey. ALL ABOARD THE LONDON BUS is a book I look forward to reading and owning.

    All the best.
    ~Suzy

    ReplyDelete
  19. What a fun poetry book about London! Beautifully illustrated, too. Congratulations ��

    ReplyDelete
  20. Hello London Bus Maven. I hope you are back from the UK when you see this & freshly Londonized. I've enjoyed this peek at Sam Usher's illustrations & your poems, especially the river shape one. It's nourishing to hear about this book's pre-pub journey, the SCBWI incubator assistance with critique & agent-connection & all the process details. I look forward to hold it between my hands. Brava! And an Oyster Card pass to Sherri for this great Q/A.

    ReplyDelete