A little bird (maybe a Ruby-crowned Kinglet?) told us that today is the birthday of Notable19 author Teresa Robeson, the subject of this blog post! It also happens to be the book birthday of Notable19 member Jessica Lanan…THE FISHERMAN AND THE WHALE is one beautiful baby! Maybe Teresa was a beautiful baby, too?
Teresa: Not as beautiful as Jess’s book, I'm sure. You be the judge…
Notable19: Let’s say you and Jessica’s book are beautiful in different ways. LOL! You’re smiling like you’re amused by something in the photo.
Teresa: I might have been watching TV. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say I watched a lot of TV growing up.
Notable 19: Really? What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
Teresa: I don’t know that I had a favorite show. In Hong Kong, I loved a couple of series imported from Japan. One involved a moon-fairy who was banished to Earth to do a certain number of good deeds before she would be allowed back to the moon. Another was about a competitive swimmer who could execute a kick at the turn that launched her out of the water so she could reach the finish faster than her competitors. The third show I adored was Star Trek. It was syndicated in Hong Kong in 1968 and I just loved Spock with all the passion of a 4 year old. I think it was the ears…or maybe the bowl haircut that most kids endured at one time or another. Heh.
Teresa: After we moved to Vancouver, my favorite shows were Six Million Dollar Man, Twilight Zone, Bionic Woman, and Wonder Woman. As you can tell, I have always been drawn to science fiction and fantasy.
Notable19: It’s surprising that your first book wasn’t SFF.
Teresa: Well, I have SFF stories in the anthologies published by the Minnows Literary Group. All the money earned from the anthologies is donated to Doctors Without Borders.
Notable19: That is a terrific charity to support! Let’s stick with your childhood for another question. What is a moment in your youth that is crystal clear in your mind?
Teresa: Hmmm, shall I talk about a traumatic moment or non-traumatic? I’ll go with the latter. I will never forget watching the stray alley cat that adopted us give birth inside a blanket-lined box that we used to put out for her. Newborn kitties are just the cutest things…the mother cat eating the placenta, not so much.
Notable19: Ah, the miracle of birth! Did that make you want to be a veterinarian? And, relatedly, what’s the weirdest job you ever had?
Teresa: That didn’t make me want to become a vet; it did, however, make me want to become a crazy cat lady. Funny enough, the weirdest job I had was almost vet-like. I had to perform gonadectomies on rodents in hormones studies for a biopsychology professor. I made some good friends in that job though, including the admin assistant of the psyc department who gave me a well-paying summer job the next year that helped me save up enough to take a one-month vacation in Europe after college graduation!
Notable19: That was serendipitous. And speaking of vacations, if you could travel anywhere now, where would you go?
Teresa: If there choices were not confined to Earth, I would love to travel to Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. If confined to Earth, it would be a toss-up between the Galapagos or back to Hong Kong, especially for Chinese New Year.
Notable19: Those are very disparate choices. Sounds like Chinese New Year is a special holiday for you, but if you could invent a holiday what would it be?
Teresa: If I were the Queen of the 'Verse (Firefly reference for those of you not in the know), I would create a “Sleep For 24-Hours” holiday where you can catch up on REM and deep sleep without the guilt. Seems like most people are sleep-deprived these days and it would really be a perfect holiday. Family gatherings, setting off fireworks, and picnics are overrated.
Notable19s: You may be on to something there. We hope you can run the universe one day so we can all catch up on our sleep. Thank you for sharing your quirky experiences and thoughts with us!
Teresa says that if you're not scared off by her odd jobs and odder sense of humor, you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Pre-order her book on our Book page or at your favorite local independent bookstore.
Here’s the start of something wonderful: our interview of Notable19 member Stephanie Lucianovic, the author of THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL!
Notable19: Let’s open with a question as oddly fun as your book, Stephanie. If you were a new color in the crayon box, what color would you be?
Stephanie: Oh, man — I honestly don’t think I can come up with a new color unless it was something like Anxious Amber, Impatient Indigo, or Worried Wisteria. Okay, but I will say, this, though — if I was an old color in the crayon box I’d be ochre. Not because of the color itself — which I believe is kind of a brownish gold? — but because when I was a kid I did not know how to pronounce it. I thought it was “o-chur” or “o-kree.”
Then, years later, when I learned how it was actually pronounced, I remember being so gobsmacked by how mysterious words could be and how crazy it was that your original perception could be so entirely different from the reality under all the layers. Now as a writer, whose lifelong love of words might have started with my mispronunciation of that crayon color, I know that digging for the layered truth is how you get and tell the best stories.
Notable19: It is fascinating how our perception of things and people can be so off-base…like we tend to think established authors have it all together and are fonts of wisdom when many are trying to find their way, too, like the rest of us newbies. Speaking of other writers, if you could swap places with another author for one day, who would it be and why?
Stephanie: Ame Dyckman, hand’s down. She has the wackiest, funniest, most engaging flights of fancy on Twitter, all of which clearly show how her brain works when she writes her books. I yearn to be that funny and free with a brain open wide to whatever kookiness creeps in and no slamming doors of negative self-editing.
Notable19: Ame is truly one of the funniest people in writer-land! She makes even the most stoic people laugh. And we all love a good laugh. Sometimes, though, we love a good cry, too. What is the first book that made you cry?
Stephanie: Okay, this is a great question because I loved to cry over books as a kid. Like, I truly reveled in that emotional release, and I think the first book that gave it to me was Beverly Cleary’s SOCKS. I vividly remember getting the book from Griffen Bay Bookstore in Friday Harbor, WA where my grandparents lived and reading it on our vacation. I was a huge cat lover as a kid (still am) and being away from home meant worrying and missing our cats at home in Minneapolis every single day. When I read SOCKS I could not get over how awful I thought the family was to their beloved kitty when a new baby came along. I just sobbed over their “cruel” treatment of him and I knew that if SOCKS had been my cat I would NEVER treat him like that.
The funny thing is, I reread that book a lot as a kid but I have not been able to bring myself to reread it as an adult. Ever since I had my own kids, I cry a lot more easily and I’m too chicken to relieve the trauma.
Notable19: It must be just as hard to write a sad book as it is to read one. But what is hardest for you about writing in general? And the easiest?
Hardest: waiting for something to happen when my writing is out there in the world.
Easiest: procrastination. Just in the time it took for me to complete this interview, I have cleaned my entire house, gone onto Twitter and had 1,821 fights and 503 random musings, eaten several meals, and an invented a fish language that includes a plethora of diphthongs and monophthongs.
Notable19: LOL! Ame Dyckman might have competition in the funny author category. Finally, one last question before you get back to your fights on Twitter: where is your favorite place to write?
Stephanie: I mean, it’s my only place to write, but: my bed. I live with my family of two kids, one husband, and two cats in the Bay Area and we rent. We don’t have enough rooms for me to have an office, and I certainly don’t have a covetable writer’s shed filled with books, tasseled pillows, steaming cups of tea, and hand-sharpened pencils out back. So my office, my writer’s space, is my bed.
It’s where I sat crosslegged and wrote 70,000 words for my first (non-kids) book, Suffering Succotash: A Picky Eater’s Quest to Understand Why We Hate the Foods We Hate (Tarcher Perigee, 2012) and it’s where I have written all my picture books, including The End of Something Wonderful (Sterling Children’s, 2019) and Hello, Star (Little Brown, 2021).
To be quite honest, even if we hit the lottery and bought a house with an office for me and a bespoke shed set out in some woodsy back acreage, I’d probably still be writing on my bed. Just like I did when I was a kid.
Notable19: That sounds very cozy, really. Who needs a fancy desk and office when you can have a comfy bed to write in? It was delightful learning more about you, Stephanie, and we look forward to reading both of your upcoming books!
To see where you can preorder THE END OF SOMETHING WONDERFUL, please visit our Books page. Also be sure to follow Stephanie on Twitter where you can watch her verbal-boxing matches!
We are a group of writers and illustrators who have debut books (actual debuts , debuts as author-illustrators, or debuts with medium/large publishers) forthcoming in 2019. Thank you for joining us on our exciting journey!