More About the Author
Lezlie Evans was born in Logan, Utah in 1962. Her mother was a full time homemaker and her father worked for IBM. Ms. Evans spent her early years in Sacramento, California and Danville, California. When in Junior High, she moved to Sandy, Utah. The following is a question/answer session with Ms. Evans:
Q: What were you like when you were little?
My mom was a great journal keeper, so I know from her journal entries I was a precocious, outgoing child with a flare for the dramatic. By the time I was 2 1/2 I was singing songs from beginning to end. One day, when I was just over two years old, the neighbors were talking about me and one of them commented to the other, "Isn't she fat?" That's when I piped up and said, "That's cause I eat so good!"
Q: What kind of things did you like to do when you were in elementary school?
I liked to go outside, play soccer, swim in my pool (I lived in California), roller skate, and play football or baseball with the neighborhood boys. I certainly didn't like to color pictures or play with Barbies like so many of the other girls my age. I was a tom-boy for sure. I had 5 brothers (no sisters) and anything my brothers did, I tried to do better.
Q: Did you like to read as a child?
I would have been labeled a 'reluctant reader' when I was in grade school. The truth was I didn't sit still long enough to read when I was a child! I can clearly recall my mother reading to me when I was young though. I enjoyed listening to her make stories come to life with her dramatic inflection and exciting interpretations, but I didn't actually discover the thrill of reading until the 5th grade.
Q: What was it that helped you discover the magic of reading?
It was in Mrs. Hudsbeth's 5th grade class when reading first became magical to me. She made our reading group the best part of the day. We sat on the floor in a circle, on pillows, had snacks and had, what felt like, very grown-up discussions about the books we were reading. So I did the assigned reading in order to take part in the circle-time talk, and suddenly I found myself traveling through time and space with Meg and Charles Wallace in A Wrinkle in Time, struggling to find the way home with three amazing animals in The Incredible Journey, and on the hunt for coons with Little Ann and Old Dan in, Where the Red Fern Grows (three of my all-time favorite books). That was the year I discovered getting lost in a good book was just as fun and exciting as going out and experiencing something myself.
Q: What about writing? Has that always come easy to you?
(Laugh....) I was actually placed in a remedial English class when I was in the 8th grade. No, writing has not always come easily for me! I recall having to write my first story in the 6th grade. My teacher, Mr. Ward, was going to make our stories into little books. I remember the whole thing being exciting, but it was sooooo difficult for me. It took me hours to come up with an idea and even longer to get the words out of my head and onto the paper. To this day I've kept that book, not because it turned out to be a great story... just the opposite actually. It is poor writing at best (in fact, my children laugh at how bad it is), but when I read that little book, it reminds me that there are few writers who are born. Talents are developed through effort and time.
Q: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I wanted to be a lot of things growing up: a dancer, a doctor, a criminal investigator, an actress; but a writer was never on the list. When I went to college and majored in Broadcast Journalism (I figured I'd get to experience many different things if I went into journalism), I did a lot of writing. Before graduating in 1983 from Brigham Young University at the age of 20, I took several creative writing classes that helped solidify my passion for writing. But it wasn't until after I had children of my own, and we went to the public library every week to check out huge stacks of books, that I decided I wanted to write for children. I can still recall sitting on the couch one afternoon, reading to my children and thinking, "This is what I want to do when I grow up! At last, I know what I want to do when I grow up.... I want to write for children!"
Q: So many of your picture books are in rhyme. What is it about poetry that you like? Who are some of your favorite poets?
While in High School I took my first creative writing class and it was there I discovered my love for manipulating words, creating rhythms, conjuring up rhymes, and expressing my perceptions and ideas in poetic form. I relished the freedom it gave me as a writer; the freedom to say one thing and mean another. And I liked the fact I could write without following all the rules one normally has to use when writing. e.e. Cummings was a great inspiration to me. His poems were so individualistic, his style was so unique. I saw him as a poetry rebel because he did not conform in any way. Robert Frost was also a favorite of mine..., also Emily Dickenson.
Q: What are your sources of inspiration?
When my children were growing up, (6 of them--3 boys, 3 girls) they were a great source of inspiration to me. Their antics were constantly giving me ideas. They would often say or do something worth putting in my writer's journal. My bunny books are a lot like my big, crazy family, so you can read them and see the inspiration coming through. I have to admit, sometimes I worried I would run out of ideas when all my children grew up. But now I'm a grandma, and my first granddaughter, thankfully, lives nearby! She keeps me in touch with a child's world and helps keep the ideas flowing. She's a lot like I was when I was young, very active, but when I can get her to sit still long enough, we like to read books together.
Q: What do you like best about being a writer?
The opportunities it gives me to meet children and to work with them in developing their own writing skills (I can't believe how talented kids are these days). Also, it's a pretty cool thing to hold a newly bound book in your hands; one that you've help to create. I'm always amazed when I receive the first copy of my newest book. Its like, "Wow, that's really my name on the cover!"
Q: What is the hardest part of what you do?
The rejection can be very hard. Here you put your time, effort and heart into your work; then you send your 'baby' off to an editor hoping he or she will like it and want to publish it. In most cases, it leaves me feeling very vulnerable and exposed. And most of the time, the answer is no thanks. I can't tell you how many rejection letters I've received. It can be a tough, painful business. But then I remember how lucky I am to be able to do what I do. I have talented friends that have been writing for years, with nothing but rejection letters to show for it. Writing for children is one of the greatest blessings in my life and I plan to do it until I die! (Which I'm hoping won't be for another 30 or 40 years).
Q: What motivates you to keep writing?
I like the thought that somewhere, some child is reading one of my books and upon closing it he or she smiles and says, "That was a really good book". If I can help a child spend a little more of his or her day on the positive side of life, then I'll keep writing. If I can write something that enables parents, teachers and children share special moments together, then I'll continue trying to get my stories published. As saccharine as that sounds, that's my greatest motivation!
Q: What are you currently working on?
I'm working on a couple of picture books manuscripts along with a historical fiction novel right now. I really enjoy the research and investigative work that comes with writing historical fiction. (Must be my journalism background.) I'm finding the hours I spend in a different time period are fascinating, and they help bring my characters to life and, hopefully, help them to have a unique and true voice.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams when it comes to your writing?
Hmmmm.... dreams? I certainly have big dreams when it comes to my writing; best selling picture books, novels, Newberry Award.... what writer doesn't have these hopes and dreams? But I will say this, when I meet some child who excitedly says," You wrote Rain Song? That's my favorite book!" Or a mother writes to tell me that my book, If I Were the Wind, was what got her through the heartbreak of losing her baby.... It's in that moment I realize; all the
prestigious awards in the world couldn't be as rewarding as this.