I’m very excited to announce my new interview series, Authors & Inspirations! In it, I’ll be posting interviews with authors from all different genres in which I ask about the art and media that they enjoy and that inspires them in their work. As an author, I love talking about my favorite art and artists, and love hearing other creators talk about their inspirations as well, so I thought this would be a fun series – hopefully for both readers and for the authors I interview. Enjoy!
My first interview is with middle grade and picture book author, Dee Romito. Dee and I became friends a few years ago, and I just adore her books – they’re so fun to read but always have an inspiring message at their heart, whether you’re a kid or an adult! Her most recent release, the non-fiction picture book Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montogomery Bus Boycott, tells the story of an unsung hero of the Civil Rights movement, and appropriately enough released on Election Day this month. Welcome, Dee!
Do you listen to music while you write? Why or why not?
Not usually. My preference is a quiet writing space, and when I’m out somewhere writing I can usually block out the noises around me. If it’s really loud, I might listen to classical or Top 40 type songs.
What was the last live concert you attended?
My kids earned tickets for our local “Kiss the Summer Hello” concert with various artists, including Alessia Cara. Before that, I think it was Garth Brooks. His concerts are the BEST.
You are magically going to be granted the ability to be a virtuoso on one instrument. Which do you pick?
Piano. I love watching people play piano, and those fast, hitting-lots-of-keys songs are incredible!
What are your all-time favorite TV shows?
Friends, Seinfeld, 24, White Collar.
What TV shows are you loving lately?
This is Us! And the last season of The Big Bang Theory. I love sitcoms.
Is there a TV show that’s had an impact on you as a writer?
Not necessarily a specific show, but TV shows in general have for sure. I find that as a writer I often don’t just watch shows, I study them. Even my husband will say, “Ooh, they wouldn’t have shown that if it’s not going to be important later!”
I once binge watched the series Hart of Dixie and when I finished the four seasons, I started it all over again. I knew I loved it, but I wanted to figure out why I loved it so much. (It was the quirky characters and their friendships!)
If you got the opportunity to write an episode for one show (past or present) what would it be?
Ooh, this is a tough one. I’d pick Friends or Seinfeld except I don’t think I could do them justice. Maybe Parenthood or Party of Five. I really loved those shows because of the complicated relationships between the characters.
If Netflix were to option one of your books for a TV series, which book would you choose, and who would play your main characters?
The BFF Bucket List would probably best lend itself to a TV series. But if I get to cast the main characters, let’s go with No Place Like Home so I can have George Clooney or Josh Duhamel play the dad. 😉
What are your all-time favorite movies?
The answer to this has always been Grease and Field of Dreams, but I have now officially added The Greatest Showman to that list. LOVE it.
Who are your favorite actors/actresses?
Anyone who follows me online knows I have a massive crush on Hugh Jackman. So much so that a friend recently sent me a cardboard cutout of him. (Okay, I might also have been sent a cutout of Josh Duhamel.
Is there a movie that’s had a big impact on you as a writer?
I got the idea for No Place Like Home while watching the movie Up in the Air. It’s about a guy who travels all the time for work and I wondered, “Could you do that if you had kids?” From that, the seed for a middle grade book idea was born.
Has a place you’ve traveled ever inspired you in your writing?
Definitely. I have always loved to travel. Several of my books have travel themes and take place in cities I’ve been to. I have one manuscript I got the idea for while sitting in Trafalgar Square in London (Someday I’ll get back to working on that one!). Of course, sometimes places I haven’t been to inspire me too. My most recent book, Postcards from Venice, takes place in Venice, Italy where I have yet to venture to.
You can go on a two-week, all-expenses paid writing retreat to the location of your choice. Where would you go, and why?
Santorini, Greece. I have always wanted to go there and OH MY GOODNESS it’s beautiful.
Are you a podcast listener? If so, what are some of your favorite podcasts?
I wasn’t until this past year, but now I really enjoy them. My favorite kidlit podcast is Literaticast and my favorite just for fun is Dax Shepard’s Arm Chair Expert. Although don’t listen to it with kids in the car!
What’s your favorite book you’ve read recently?
I read a lot of picture books, especially nonfiction and biography. I love learning about people in history. One of my recent favorites is A Lady Has the Floor by Kate Hannigan about Belva Lockwood–an amazing woman I didn’t know about!
What are your very favorite kinds of scenes to write?
I like writing fun scenes that make me laugh, but I also like the ones that tug at the heart strings and make you feel the character’s emotions. Those are usually the hardest to write, but they’re so important to a story.
When you need to recharge your batteries/refill the well as a writer, what forms of media do you most often turn to?
I’m supposed to say books or music to sound official as a writer, I know, but my real answer is TV. I’m very visual, so TV shows and movies are my ultimate comfort spot when I need to recharge.
What artistic/creative talent do you wish you had?
Oh how I’d love to be an illustrator! But there are so many talented illustrators out there, it’s actually more fun to see what they do with the books.
If you could have a drink with any three people alive in the world right now, who would you pick?
Well first of all, I’m allergic to alcohol, so I’d just be ordering a water with lemon. Hugh Jackman, Ellen DeGeneres, and Michelle Obama.
Let us know what’s coming up next for you: new books, new projects; what are you working on?
I have a chapter book series coming out with Aladdin/Simon & Schuster in 2020 called Fort Builders. It’s about a group of kids who start a fort building company to earn money. Inspired by my own box fort builders at home. (Yes, there is currently a box fort in our play room.)
Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York. You’re likely to find her on adventures with her husband and two energetic kids, at the local ice cream shop, or curled up in a comfy chair with her cats. She loves to write, travel, and giggle like a teenager with her friends.
Her middle grade books include The BFF Bucket List, No Place Like Home, co-authored Best.Night.Ever, and Postcards from Venice (Aladdin/S&S). Her debut picture book, Pies from Nowhere: How Georgia Gilmore Sustained the Montgomery Bus Boycott (Little Bee Books) is now available. You can visit her website at DeeRomito.com.