I love ambitious people. People with big imaginations and the ability and go out into the world and get what they want. My lovely friend Jesse Klausmeier is one of those people. In fact, she’s done and had her first children’s book published! How cool is that?
Jesse and I actually first met when we were both working at Nickelodeon. She worked in On-Air Promos and I was in Development. What really struck me the most about her when we worked together (aside from her spunk, charm, and general infectious cheer) was how she always had something to add to a conversation, and how sharp her comments were. She was consistently organized, well-spoken, and prepared for meetings (whereas some of us were just awkward!). I really admire those qualities in her.
Jesse also has a seriously vast knowledge of books and authors, it’s amazing! I know how much love and passion she has for the literary world, so when I heard that she was going to be published, I was so excited for her.
Now, Jesse brings her awesomeness to us in her debut, Open This Little Book.
Open This Little Book captures the power and love of reading in the coolest form– books inside of books inside of books! It even landed on Amazon’s Editors Top Pick in January! The story of how the book was conceived is really fascinating to me (and when I say being prepared is one of her strengths, she was really prepared for years for this one!), so I asked if she’d be down for an interview, and here’s how our convo went:
(P.S. Don’t forget to read to the end because we’ll be giving away a copy of the book!):
Did you always know you wanted to be an author? What was the process to get published?
I have been writing stories ever since I can remember. English class was always my favorite in school, and I may have even written reports over the summer break for fun. Yep.
My process to getting published is somewhat of a fairy tale come true. I joined the Society ofChildren’s Book Writers and Illustrators (www.scbwi.org) in 2006, and became an active member in the local Los Angeles chapter. SCBWI is such an incredible resource for those aspiring to publish children’s books. They offer invaluable resources, critique groups, community, and a kickin’ annual summer conference in LA. I met my agent and my editor at the Working Writers Retreat in Encino, CA. I brought Open This Little Book to the retreat in 2008 and shared it with Victoria Rock, Editor-At-Large and Founding Publisher, Children’s Division of Chronicle Books. She acquired it, and I’m beyond thrilled with how the book turned out.
What gave you the idea for Open This Little Book?
Like many kids, I was always trying to postpone bedtime by asking to read one more book. When my parents inevitably said, “okay, pick out one last book” I would choose the biggest picture book I could find and stuff it with as many smaller picture books I could. I thought this plan was pretty brilliant, and I was lucky to have indulgent parents. When I was five, I decided to make a book that had lots of other books inside of it. The idea stuck with me, and here it is!
Jesse’s vision of the book as a child and the finished product today! Amazing!
How did the collaboration with illustrator Suzy Lee come about?
In most cases, the editor pairs the author with the illustrator. Editors involve their authors in the selection of an illustrator in varying degrees. In my case, Victoria asked if I had any ideas for the illustrator. I named some that I thought were amazing and also attainable, then offhandedly mentioned Suzy Lee. She is one of my very favorite author/illustrators, and you really have to check out her award-winning books, Wave and Shadow. Suzy is a master book creator and at that point hadn’t collaborated with another author. I knew that Victoria was her editor too, but never dreamed that we would actually be paired together. I’m honored to have had the chance to work with her, especially on my debut picture book.
Who are your favorite authors, and what are your current favorite books and recommendations?
Oh man, this is such a tough question to answer because there are just so many!
Alright, I’ll give you five picture book authors I loved when Iwas a kid (and still do!):
1. Margaret Wise Brown
2. Robert McCloskey
3. Elsa Holmelund Minarik
4. Jon Scieszka
5. Shel Silverstein
Here are five highly recommended picture books that were published within the last year.
1. Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Idle
2. Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Jon Klassen
3. Arlo Needs Glasses by Barny Saltzberg
4. Boot & Shoe by Marla Frazee
5. Green by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
Any plans to publish another title?
Absolutely! I’m working on a few manuscripts right now, and I’m really excited to share news when I can!
We’re both cheese lovers. I gotta know, what’s your favorite?
Ooooh, good question! I had Teston de Barolo at a party, and it pretty much changed my life.
Isn’t it awesome that Jesse had the idea for the book when she was just a little kid and when she grew up she made it a reality? How inspiring is that?
Check out the trailer below!
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Jesse and her publisher, Chronicle Books, have been kind enough to offer a copy of the book to give away! I actually have a copy that I bought for myself, and I can tell you, it’s so cool! Every time you open a book, there’s another waiting inside. Kids and adults alike will love it. Jesse’s writing and concept along with Suzy Lee’s art are just whimsical and wonderful. So a big thank you to both Jesse and Chronicle Books!
To enter the giveaway:
Leave a comment on this post and tell me what cheese is your favorite (mine is cheddar, straightforward and strong) and/or what your favorite children’s book was growing up!
–You can also get one extra entry by tweeting this giveaway using this link (http://wp.me/p2vFLu-ek) to this post and tag @monamiblog (if you don’t I won’t see it!) OR by re-tweeting one of my tweets about this post.
The giveaway is open until this Sunday, 02/17/2013 and open to U.S. residents only. A winner will be selected using a random number generator. Only one comment and one tweet will count as entries per person (with a possible two entries total). Good luck everyone!