What do you feel is the secret to finding your voice as a writer? When did you realize that you had “found” yours?
I think a writer needs to be true to him or herself. You shouldn’t try to be the next “so-and-so.” Studying mentor texts is one of the best ways for a person to get good at writing picture books, but the key is to tell a story in a way that only you can tell it.
As for me, I never set out to “find” my voice. Writing young, humorous books with heart feels natural to me. Channeling my inner four-year-old is fun! Of course, I started off by writing lots and lots of Really Bad Manuscripts. But those early attempts weren’t a waste of time. Those were my practice manuscripts. Each one helped me to get a little better.
Is there one common thread that holds your picture books together? How does this affect the books you write?
Many of my books deal with themes of friendship, compromise, and being true to oneself, but the one common thread in all of my books is humor.
Humorous picture books have always been my favorite kind to read, so it makes sense to me that these are the kind of books I like to write.
Communication is key. When I was looking for an agent, I wanted someone who had a great reputation, someone who was passionate about my work, and someone who gave editorial feedback. I found all that—and so much more!!!—with Laura.
Before you had an agent, how did you decide which manuscript to lead out with on submissions?
Laura has been my agent since 2005. Before having an agent, I would write the best manuscript I could, send it out, and hope for good. This is, um, still my process. Ha!
Part 2 of this interview happens now! Come on over to hear Tammi's take on mentor texts. Part 2 is HERE.
Tammi Sauer is a full-time picture book author who has visited hundreds of schools and spoken at various conferences across the nation. To date, Tammi has sold 23 picture books to major publishing houses (Bloomsbury, Disney*Hyperion, HarperCollins, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Simon & Schuster, and Sterling). In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do great things. Mostly Monsterly was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program. Me Want Pet! was recently released in French which makes her feel extra fancy. And Nugget and Fang, along with Tammi herself, was featured on the Spring 2015 Scholastic Book Fair DVD which was shared with millions of students. This is a link to the video: http://www.scholastic.com/bookfairs/ESvideo.
You can visit Tammi online at tammisauer.com and at picturebookbuilders.com.