Monday, November 19, 2012

Acclaimed Children's Writer Amy Friedman Interviewed

Today, Norm Goldman, Editor of the book reviewing and interviewing website Bookpleasures is aflame to accept as our guest, Amy Friedman, acclaimed biographer who wrote Acquaint Me a Adventure for Universal Press Syndicate.

Good day Amy and acknowledge your for accordant to participate in our interview.

Good day, Norm, and acknowledgment a amateur for accepting me.


Amy, amuse acquaint our readers a little bit about your claimed and able background. What is your accomplishments in children's literature?


I anticipate the alley to autograph for an admirers of accouchement began if I was a kid active in a abode with two reading-addicted parents.

The appliance in our family's den was almost arresting beneath the books, magazines and newspapers, and my Dad, a lawyer, had consistently capital to be a journalist; in actuality afore traveling to law academy he formed as a sports anchorman (combining his two passions), but in that era Jews had adversity accepting jobs as journalists, so Dad went to law school.

When I was about 12, I wrote my aboriginal abbreviate story, and I absitively appropriate afresh and there that I capital to be a writer, admitting like all writers' lives, the alley to actuality has taken abounding hasty turns.

I advised English at Barnard College, with a accessory in artistic writing. In those canicule I wrote alone fiction, and in the backward '70s, I went to City-limits College for an MFA in autograph because Donald Barthleme, a biographer I adore enormously, was teaching there. He absolutely was the getting who accomplished me how to address well, how to plan hard, and how, too, to yield abysmal amusement in writing.

In the mid-80s my activity took one of those august turns that feeds a writer's acuteness and nourishes the soul. I'd lived in Manhattan for about 15 years, but I fell in adulation with a Canadian and confused to a sheep acreage outside--OUTSIDE--of Gananoque, Ontario. I adored the acreage and apparent a astonishing the bi-weekly appear in adjacent Kingston. Afresh endemic and run independently, The Kingston Whig-Standard appear a beauteous magazine, and this is where, ultimately, Acquaint Me A Adventure and my abutting captivation with children's abstract began. I had formed for eight years as an developed columnist, and that cavalcade led to two appear two books, the aboriginal a account alleged Kick the Dog and Shoot the Cat, about the similarities amid sheep agriculture and my antecedent plan in New York, in blur assembly (on such blockbuster Hollywood hits as Ghostbusters).

I still had no abstraction that ultimately I would be autograph for accouchement in those aboriginal years on the newspaper. I had, though, broadcast from autograph carefully fiction to autograph nonfiction, claimed essay, and plays.


Will you allotment a little bit about Acquaint Me A Adventure with us?


One day in the aboriginal '90s I approached our editor, Neil Reynolds, and told him I anticipation the bi-weekly bare something for kids. I'd admired newspapers if I was young. Neil was all for it and told me to go amount out what this new affection should be and let him know.

There was a aces children's librarian in the Kingston Public Library, Mary Beaty, and she spent hours arch me through old books of folklore. As we talked, I began to bethink how abundant I'd consistently admired mythology, and if Mary showed me a adaptation of the Finnish epic, The Kalevala and some old Chinese folktales I'd never accepted existed, I was hooked. Mary aswell led me to the Toronto Public Library accumulating in the Boys and Girls House, a accumulating accustomed in 1922, the aboriginal children's library in the British Empire. The Toronto Public Library's accord to children's abstract is a abundant adventure in itself, but that's for addition day.

Long adventure a little shortened, Mary aswell alien me to Jillian Gilliland who by afresh had illustrated added than 20 children's books. Jillian admired the abstraction of a cavalcade of anecdotal folk and fairytales, legends and myths; we told Neil we capital our cavalcade to be children's fiction, new and old, illustrated all, and just a few weeks later, in November 1991, we began to aftermath The Bedtime Story, six canicule a week. I wrote alone one or two a anniversary and alleged and edited added belief from mountains of submissions. Aural a ages ten added affidavit in Canada had best up The Bedtime Story, and one day in the newsroom our city-limits editor, Norris McDonald, pulled me abreast to acquaint me to Dan Dalton. Dan was a syndicate salesman, but this time instead of selling, he capital to allocution about the affairs The Bedtime Adventure for Universal Press Syndicate.

Universal active me to address ONE adventure anniversary week, Jillian to illustrate, in color, and Acquaint Me A Adventure was born. It bound bent blaze and was anon active in hundreds of affidavit about the world.

We absent abounding of our audience if card angled in amount in the mid-90s (the cavalcade takes up lots of space), but we still run in about 100 affidavit (the numbers alter monthly), even as far abroad as China.

My abode now (I'm now in Los Angeles) looks a little bit like the Boys and Girls Room at the Toronto Public Library, and one of the best locations of the accomplished acquaintance has been relationships I've developed over the years with humans who've stumbled aloft the column. For years I corresponded with a Kalevala academic in Finland. I accustomed a archetype of a just-discovered Chinese arrangement from some ballad advisers in Hawaii. The ballad advisers accumulate me honest and are consistently teaching me new things about literature's roots, for instance; and Jillian keeps me honest too because every one of her paintings is authentic down to the atomic details. We do our homework, authoritative abiding to be accurate to the data of time, place, dress, flora, fauna, architecture, and so on.

The cavalcade has generated two books--Tell Me A Adventure and The Spectacular Gift, but I'd consistently capital to accomplish an audio version. In my activity alfresco of Acquaint Me A Adventure I advise artistic album and claimed article autograph at UCLA, and through this work, and through my autograph and assuming claimed essays, I've met dozens of abnormally accomplished actors.


How did you go about allotment the belief and music to be included in Acquaint Me A Story?


When I absitively I was traveling to aftermath the CD on my own, I knew I'd charge partners. Aboriginal my husband, Dennis Danziger, a biographer and teacher, agilely abutting me, but he capital to be a array of bashful partner. I had performed in a announced chat area accepted as Melt in Your Mouth which is produced by Lori Ada Jaroslow and had so admired her work, both as ambassador and as a director, I arrive her to co-produce. She was anon intrigued.

Last summer I handed Lori a assemblage of added than 100 of my stories, and Lori began to read, ultimately winnowing the alternative to 50. Lori aswell appropriate three accessible complete engineers and composers. If I heard Laura Hall's music (and remembered seeing her on Whose Band Is It Anyway, and activity such abundant activity appearing from her), I absitively she was the one.

Laura, Lori and I spent canicule sitting in coffee shops talking about the selections--finally absorption our account to 25. We looked for range--different locations of the world, male, changeable and beastly leads, funny and serious, belief that had altered rhythms and altered messages.

But we couldn't get beneath 25, so we alleged in Laura's two daughters, Ruthie, age 7, and Eva, 9. The girls apprehend all 25 and gave us ablaze post-it notes; they aswell adjourned with anniversary other--Eva giving up her admired if Ruthie gave up hers, and so forth.

We baddest to 10, and then, already we began recording, we accomplished we would accept to lose two more. Our mixer told us already a CD goes over 72 minutes, superior is sacrificed, and the belief apprehend best than we'd anticipated.

We've promised Ruthie that her admired story, a French Canadian account alleged The Talking Cat, will be included on one of our next cds.


Could you acquaint our readers something about the altered humans who characterize the belief and how were they chosen?


This was arduous joy. Lauren Tom was aboriginal on my list. I met Lauren if years ago she took a autograph chic from me. I've apparent her accomplish on stage, in films, on television, and I've heard her articulation on the abounding activated shows, but maybe a lot of importantly, I've watched her at play with her two sons who she adores.

Kathleen Wilhoite's a agnate story. If I aboriginal heard Kathleen apprehend one of her belief at a announced chat amphitheater (and heard her sing as well), I knew I capital to plan with her. Her articulation is inimitable--husky, funny, sweet, sassy, beautiful, and wise. And Kath too is a adherent mom to her son and daughter. Lori was a given; she's a longtime accomplished accompanist and performer, and she's formed with some of the finest actors around. It was Lori's contacts and instincts which took us to Jack

McGee, Charlayne Woodard, and Poppy Champlin. Eventually we absitively we capital to casting adjoin type; that is, that we didn't ambition Lauren account a Chinese adventure because she's Chinese American, or Charlayne account an African adventure because she's African American. Conceivably one of my admired moments was the day

Jack McGee with his gruff, tough, New York street-wise articulation that lots of humans admit from Rescue Me came in and apprehend Two Frogs from Japan. Every time I apprehend Jack on the CD saying, "Spahkle and Shimma, Spahkle and Shimma" (or, in regular-old-English, animation and shimmer, animation and shimmer), I laugh. Every time. And I've heard it bags of times.

Laura's husband, Rick Hall, is both amusing and a serious, acclimatized performer, and maybe best of all, he loves Anansi stories. I bethink cerebration if I aboriginal heard him read, "ohhhh, so THAT's how Anansi sounds." And his trombone playing--he's one of those all-around talents. One day we al of a sudden afflicted our minds about a adventure and we bare at the endure minute to acquisition a clairvoyant with a rich, deep, able voice. Laura appropriate her acquaintance and neighbor, amateur and singer

William Thomas Jr. William had just accomplished demography an assay (he's belief for the Seminary) but pro that he is, aural the hour he was at the studio, account the adventure as if he'd apposite for weeks.

Maybe my admired day was in the flat with Poppy Champlin, one of the a lot of able comediennes around, if she came in and started channeling animals. If she al of a sudden became a raccoon cogent apparition belief on Searching for Fear, I couldn't bolt my animation for the laughter. None of us could. We had to yield a breach from recording. Sometimes in the average of recording, Lori and I would attending at anniversary added in admiration at the abracadabra in that studio, and if Lori sang Laura and me a lullabye she remembered her ancestor singing to her (her dad for years played Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway), Laura and I assertive her she had to cover it in her cogent of A Sense of Theft, and that, as I recall, is if Laura says she aboriginal began to apprehend the music.


How continued did it yield you to put calm your CD and what challenges or obstacles did you appointment while putting calm the CD? How did you affected these challenges?


We began selecting belief in backward summer '05 and by October 2005 we were recording in Laura's flat (Laura was both artisan and engineer). The recording went quickly. Anniversary of the performers was exceptional--they absolved into the flat with their pages, cozied up to the mic and offered up their astronomic talent.

Afterwards, though, Lori and Laura spent canicule and weeks alteration assorted takes; they kept me out of the flat because we all agreed I was too abutting to the stories, and too, because we capital to accomplish abiding already they had put calm the best cut, anyone would accept a "clean ear" to accept and accomplish the final changes.

One added note: afterwards day one, afterwards Kathleen Wilhoite and Charlayne Woodard had accomplished recording, we accomplished we hadn't asked them to almanac the titles. Because we were alive on a bound budget, Dennis, my husband, said, "Well, what if instead of allurement them to acknowledgment to the studio, the girls almanac the titles. Laura's girls."

And now, if admirers aboriginal apprehend Ruthie's articulation announcing, A Sense of Theft, they swoon. Perfection. It was addition one of those bewitched "accidents."

I don't apperceive that we've in actuality encountered obstacles. In fact, forth the way what has addled me a lot of of all is how amazing every getting who formed on this has been, how anniversary getting performed aloft all my expectations, from the readers to the musicians, Larry Hughes, a clarinetist I begin through an old adolescence friend, a flat artist in LA, and Luke Hannington who played bass, recorder, and guitar and is a acquaintance and aide of Laura's, to Laura, of course. The inimitable, ultra-talented Laura. I cried if I aboriginal heard her music. I beggarly absolutely wept, it was so far aloft what I had dared brainstorm it could be.

Matt Lands who did the bond and arrive listened to the aboriginal adventure and accepted in a baby what we wanted, and some of the touches no one but we apparently will anytime apprehension are the aftereffect of his Matt's abracadabra hand. If we had accomplished the final mix, I alleged on Walter Green of Weingart Architecture in Cleveland, Ohio (going aback to my adolescence hometown); he listened to the CD and instantly understood--this was a archetypal and the architecture had to be too.

The a lot of difficult allotment for me has been acquirements all the elements of production; I spent canicule poring over pages of what at aboriginal seemed gobbledygook as I approved to accept the accomplishment action and baddest our manufacturer. But mostly the action has been harder but blithesome work. The CD feels, to me, abounding with the spirit of all those humans whose gave of their talent, and as a physician acquaintance told me if he heard it, "You can apprehend the joy of all the creators in this."

I assumption if there's one allotment that makes me uneasy, it's the marketing. That part's hard, and out of my branch of experience. So, again, I'm learning.


How will you be business your CD?


We're acquirements as we go. Universal Press Syndicate is involved; we accept contacted all the newspapers in which the cavalcade appears, and achievement to ability a lot of our readers that way. As you know, I'm extensive out to reviewers, a lot of of whom I've appear aloft through my associates in the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators. We've aswell beatific the CD to several accolade competitions and to dozens of children's radio hosts about the country. We are assuming at as abounding venues as we can, and our aboriginal achievement will be on July 8 at Hollygrove, in Hollywood, area Carrie-on, a day amusement ability for accouchement with life-threatening illnesses, is captivation a alternation of accessible houses.

A while ago I met Tracy Mestres who created Carrie-on, and I knew instantly this was the alms to which we would be altruistic a allocation of our proceeds. Carrie, Tracy's daughter, was afore her afterlife at the age of 13, a biographer and an artist; I never knew her but a apprentice of abundance was her teacher. Angelica acclimated to accompany Carrie's belief to my class, and I remembered those stories; somehow the ablaze that was in Carrie's belief seemed like the ablaze that emanates from our CD, and from this accomplished experience. The bout seemed just right.

We aswell plan to accomplish at The Geffen Amphitheater in Los Angeles in affiliation with their apprenticeship affairs and I achievement too, we'll be in added places, in added cities, in bookstores and beyond.

We're aswell gluttonous to absorption librarians and teachers, and I am still architecture into the website, contest agents can use in the classroom, means to use the CD and added folktales to teach.


Where can we buy your CD?


For now, the CD is accessible online at CD Baby, It will be a little while afore we can accomplish it accessible to retail outlets, but humans who are afraid about acclimation online can acquaintance me at, and I will either mail them a archetype or absolute them to a abundance in their adjacency area they can adjustment it. Anon I achievement it will be added broadly available, but that's allotment of this business thing.

But besides, CD Baby is a abundant self-made, baby company, and I'd like to abutment them the way they abutment so abounding absolute musicians and adventure tellers.


Is there an basal bulletin you ambition to back with these stories?


The accurate acknowledgment is yes. But there's added than one. First, maybe a lot of vividly, the bulletin is that humans should absorb themselves in community, should abide the allurement of arrogance and self-involvement to plan together; a little bit the bulletin is not alone in the belief but in the accomplished collaborative result--in what superior after-effects if a accumulation of humans alive calm to create, whether it's a CD or a bigger world.

Second, and this afraid Lori, Laura and me, but afterwards recording, we apparent that we had created a activating we hadn't absolutely advised but were admiring to find. Zena in A Sense of Theft, Hannah in A Clever Girl, Sal in The Boatman's Howling Daughter, and The Selkie Bride are such dynamic, optimistic, truthful, able women that their activity seems to ammunition the CD, authoritative it tilt, conceivably a little, against the female. An 11-year-old babe told me the added day that she admired the CD. "I'm like Sal," she said, "and like Hannah. And my name's Hannah..." She was grinning, ear to ear. But afresh her brother said, "I like Gregory, the raccoon," and I remembered that we accept a lot of aces macho getting in there too.

The basal band message, ultimately, is that kindness, generosity, curiosity, assurance and acumen are far bigger ancestry to possess, and ultimately accompany far greater gifts, than do selfishness, greed, and fear.


What are your hopes for the CD?


We achievement humans will feel as abundant joy in alert to it as we accomplished authoritative it, and we achievement it will ability admirers far and wide. We aswell achievement it will be just the aboriginal in a series. Laura, Lori and I accept already amorphous to allocution about who and what will be on the next one, and besides, we promised Ruthie.

And Norm, I ambition to acknowledge you for getting so acceptable as to action me this opportunity. Meeting you, and your action to do this interview, feels like one added section of the magic.

The aloft account was conducted by: NORM GOLDMAN: Editor of Bookpleasures. CLICK TO VIEW Norm Goldman's Reviews

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