By Suzy Leopold
Welcome to the GROG Blog, Laurie. I’m pleased to chat with you about your debut book.
Big Truck Playdate
Written by Laurie Carmody
Illustrated by Jennica Lounsbury
Beaming Books, March 7, 2023
Happy Book Birthday!
Let’s begin . . . Your heartwarming book, Big Truck Playdate, shares a story from the perspective of Corey who is diagnosed on the autism spectrum.
|Big Truck Playdate
Rudine Sims Bishop, a professor, is referred to as the “Mother of Multicultural Literature.” She coined the words, “Mirrors, Windows, and Sliding-glass Doors.” It is important for children to see themselves reflected in books and for all to understand differences and similarities to equal compassion and empathy for one another.
Was it necessary to research facts and information about a disorder diagnosed on the autism spectrum? What surprised you the most as you wrote the story?
When I began writing, Corey was very clear in my mind - a truck-loving, passionate child that struggles to connect with his peers. Like so many children, Corey is neurodiverse. My sister-in-law has autism and my mom used to work as a teacher’s aide with neurodiverse students in an upstate New York school district, so I am familiar with some of the many ways autism can be present in the world. Always striving to represent Corey with authenticity and respect, however, I did research and worked closely with my editor at Beaming Books. And I’ll always be learning, especially regarding how to choose appropriate language that is inclusive and celebratory.
Often writers are told to “Write what you know.” And to add to this thought, the often-asked question, “What was your inspiration for this story idea?” Please tell us more about the inspiration for Big Truck Playdate and how your story came together.
So many different memories and experiences inspired Big Truck Playdate. First, the truck: New neighbors moved in next door and parked a huge semi-truck in the driveway. This inspired me to write a story about a truck as a neighbor. After working with critique partners, the manuscript morphed into a story about a truck coming to school instead.
Second, the main character: Corey is partially inspired by a friend that my brother and I used to play with who was passionate about garage door openers. We had the best time when we combined our interests and just played! Corey is also inspired by my sister-in-law, Ashley, who has autism. She loves teddy bears like Corey loves trucks. Her love is so strong and pure, and it’s something that I admire about her.
In 7th grade, I wrote and illustrated a picture book called ANDY THE ARMADILLO but it wasn’t until I became a mom and started checking out bags of books each week from our local library that I decided to try writing picture books for publication. I am absolutely in love with the picture book form. It is beautiful to see how text and art come together to shape a story. And the fact that it’s for children and adults to share is the icing on the cake.
I almost always type on my laptop. Sometimes I’ll cut up sticky notes and arrange them into “spreads” in my notebook. Then I’ll write little thoughts and ideas and see how they fit. But most of my work is digital and I’m a huge fan of using google docs to track critique feedback.
Was your manuscript for Big Truck Playdate a submission
opportunity from a writing conference or webinar or was it
sent through a slush pile (aka sifting through gems)?
I had an Above the Slushpile Pass through the “Children’s Book Insider” magazine.
Complete this sentence. Laurie is an author and kid lit creator
who . . .
. . . is grateful every day for the support of friends, family, and kidlit community members.
Did you have any input on the bright, colorful illustrations by illustrator Jennica Lounsbury?
Share a piece of advice or craft of writing tip that is helpful when writing for young readers.
Here are my top 5 tips!
1. READ other picture books. Write out the text. Walk around in them for a while; ask yourself why you love a certain part.
2. LISTEN to creators. Like, all creators. Read diverse books.
3. JOIN a community. SCBWI, Mighty Kid Lit, Critique groups, Facebook groups,
12 X 12, etc. Find your people and lift each other up. Ask all the questions so you'll be able to answer them someday.
4. PLAY with your manuscripts. Don't be afraid to revise! Someone told me to try Big Truck Playdate from the POV of a talking monster truck. I wrote it! And it made me realize I needed to stick with my original path.
5. PERSEVERE. When you want to give up, do one more thing. Then do the next thing. String them along and you'll get there. I promise.
Share your thoughts on the best way to market a picture book. What are some activities and events you are doing (or plan to do) to launch and promote your book?
The best thing I did was join a debut group. I’m part of the PB Sunrays--Picture Book Launch Group and they have helped me learn so much about marketing my own work as well as how to support other published authors. Some of the promotional activities I’m looking forward to include speaking at my children’s preschool, elementary school, and middle school, doing Storytime Sprint and working with my local bookstore Curious Iguana, and to do an event at one of my favorite libraries.
Are you prepared for some fun rapid-fire questions?
- Tell us something about yourself that we may not know.
- What is your writing super power?
I come up with some strange connections that I try to put into a story format.
- Share a favorite bedtime story from when you were a kid.
The Big Orange Splot by Daniel Manus Pinkwater
- Do you have a favorite snack and beverage?
Pita chips with hummous and a diet Coke.
- What item(s) displayed on your desk gives you inspiration?
Lately I’ve been working from my couch. I sit right next to my Grandma’s fern (his name is Dennis Fronds). She died a few years ago and this is a cutting from a fern that was around when my dad was young. It reminds me that our stories grow and connect generations together.
Thank you, Laurie, for sharing your debut book, Big Truck Playdate, with the followers of the GROG Blog.
Where can the readers of the GROG Blog find out more about you?
|Read Across America Day
"It was one of the best experiences
to see how the kids would react to
Big Truck Playdate."