Welcome to our next member interview! Today, we’re delighted to feature Cathy Ballou Mealey whose debut book, WHEN A TREE GROWS, will be released on April 2nd from Sterling Publishing. Cathy is not only a brilliant person but she also has a super fun side. . .read on!
Notable19: So, Cathy, did you have a pet growing up and has it made its way into any of your stories?
Cathy: My family had plenty of dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils and even a turtle. The first pet that was mine – all mine – was Brownie, a handsome smooth-coated guinea pig. I’ve worked a veritable menagerie of real and imaginary creatures into my stories, most well-anthropomorphized. I’m sure Brownie would get along well with Squirrel, the rodent protagonist in WHEN A TREE GROWS.
Notable19: Sounds like you have an affinity for the order rodentia. :D He’s a cutie, as were you! When not observing Brownie, you must have watched some television. What was your favorite TV show as a kid?
Cathy: Tuesday nights at 7:30 you could always find me watching Jim Henson’s THE MUPPET SHOW. I was hooked on Sesame Street as a kid, and idolized the Muppets with their distinctive personalities and sly humor. When Frank Oz gave a lecture at my graduate school and brought Grover along, I was so spellbound that I just about forgot to breathe!
Notable19: You got to see Frank Oz?! We are very jealous! There should be a National Frank Oz Day, in our opinion. If you could invent a holiday, what would it be?
Cathy: Is there a holiday that hasn’t been invented yet? I am especially looking forward to celebrating the holidays that can help promote WHEN A TREE GROWS such as:
January 15 – National Moose Day
January 21 – Squirrel Appreciation Day
April 26 – Arbor Day
October 22 – National Nut Day
December 7 – National Letter Writing Day
I hope you have marked these important dates on your calendars. If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?
Notable19: We are definitely marking down those special days! Arbor Day and National Letter Writing Day can really touch people’s lives, too. Speaking of touching, what is the first book that made you cry?
Cathy: Probably Charlotte’s Web. I also remember weeping through James Herriot’s All Creatures Great and Small and its sequels, tales of his careful, compassionate veterinary work in the Yorkshire Dales. What an amazing storyteller he was!
More recently, I wept while reading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo to my children. I think you can still see the tear stains on the pages.
Notable19: A good cry that well-written books elicit can be very therapeutic. But to end on a happier note, do you have a playful way to get past the blank page, such as writing exercises or prompts?
Cathy: As a writing warm-up, I like to scroll through Instagram for an image that inspires me to jot down a setting, a character description, or a simple “what next?” plot outline. These quick scribbles help me to jump back into a WIP with fresh, surprising ideas. I also post some of my favorite picture book images on Instagram – check it out @catballoumealey!
Notable19: That does sound like a great way to get inspired! Some people do something similar on Pinterest, too. Thanks so much for letting us take a peek into your childhood, Cathy!
Follow Cathy on Twitter and Instagram to catch news about her book and to see cute animal links!
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!