Catching up with Corey, Ninja-style!
Corey Rosen Schwartz is the author of The Three Ninja Pigs, Goldi Rocks & The Three Bears and the forthcoming Ninja Red Riding Hood. Her singing is extremely pitchy, but she does hold Family Idol and X Factor events in her living room. We snuck behind the scenes to find out what tall [fairy] tale Corey is mastering next…
NJSCBWI: You have a new book that released this month, congratulations! Can you tell us more both how this book came about?
Corey Rosen Schwartz: Sure. The idea for Goldi Rocks came directly from Tara Lazar’s first PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month). I tend to brainstorm in themes, so that year I had a ton of variations on The Three Bears:
• Goldilocks and the Three and a Half Bears
• Coldilocks and the Three Polar Bears
• Goldi Rocks and the Three Bear Band
But I actually didn’t think any of them were worth pursuing. I whined about it on my blog, and Beth Coulton left a comment saying, “ I LOVE the Goldi Rocks idea! Want to collaborate?” We struggled with it a bit, but it eventually sold to G. P. Putnam's Sons (an imprint of Penguin USA).
Tip #1: Don’t be too quick to dismiss an idea!
NJSCBWI: AND you have another book coming out later this year. Please share the story behind Ninja Red Riding Hood.
CS: Believe it or not, this idea also came from PiBoIdMo 2009. The Three Ninja Pigs had just sold, and Tara said to me, you should write a follow up. Maybe the wolf goes after Little Red? So, I put it down on my list. One day, when I was totally frustrated with Goldi and needed to put it aside, I decided to give Red a try. This one pretty much wrote itself!
Tip #2: Participate in as many writing challenges as you can!
NJSCBWI: You are an active member of New Jersey SCBWi. Can you tell other aspiring authors how the organization has helped you on your journey?
CS: New Jersey SCBWI has been invaluable to me! In 2008, I went to an SCBWI dinner where I met agent SB (I now refer to him by his initials, so he won’t get a Google Alert every time I tell this story) Afterwards, I sent him a manuscript. He wrote back saying that I clearly had talent as writer, but did I have anything “bigger”? And suddenly, I got it. I had received years of lovely rejections, saying “You have a flair for rhythm and rhyme, but we have to pass.” But in that one line from Steph- oops, SB, something clicked. I understood that if I wanted to make a sale, I needed to write something BIGGER. Something high concept. Something with a strong hook. Shortly after, I wrote The Three Ninja Pigs. I knew immediately that this one would sell. And it did. And I have sold four other picture books since.
Tip #3: Go to as many conferences, workshops, and industry events as possible. You never know when you will get that one piece of feedback or make that one perfect connection that takes your career to the next level!
NJSCBWI: Looks like you have some 'fractured' fairy-tale' action going on with a few of your books. Please can you describe your process, and what it is that pulls you to this topic?
CS: I had always thought that stories were either plot-driven or character-driven, but one day while eating lunch with Simone Kaplan at a NJ SCBWI conference, I learned that there is a third category: language-driven. My strengths as a writer put my work into this last category. I am much better with rhyme, alliteration and word play than I am at creating quirky characters and complex story arcs. So what better genre for me than fractured fairy tales where the plots and characters are basically already developed? I simply find a story that’s tried-and-true, and then put my own spin on it.
Tip #4: Write to your strengths. Do NOT write in rhyme unless rhyme pulls your manuscript UP.
NJSCBWI: We love tips and advice from published authors to help us grow, what top piece of advice would you give to those of us out there trying to get ahead in the kidlit world?
CS: I obviously can’t limit myself to one. Ha! Writing takes a tremendous amount of patience and persistence. I recently soid a manuscript that I wrote in 2007. So, try to enjoy the process. Join critique groups, Reach out to writers and industry professionals on social media. Surround yourself with a supportive community!