How did CWILL BC members get their first big breaks in the publishing world? In this series of interviews with local writers and illustrators, we ask what advice they would offer and what mistakes they would never repeat — an inside look at the publishing process, from the creators’ point of view. Please feel free to tell your own publishing tales in the comments section below.
What was your first book?
My first book was Trouble in the Trees, published by Orca Books in 2011, about an 11-year-old girl who fights a bylaw against tree climbing in her Vancouver townhouse complex.
Did you have a mentor in the publishing world, or did you do it all on your own?
When I started writing children’s fiction, my focus was picture books. After a lot of rejection, I took Michael Katz’s “Children’s Book Workshop” through UBC Continuing Education. Although he didn’t become my mentor, it was his idea to expand some of my picture book ideas into chapter books. That great suggestion lead me to write my first middle grade manuscript which was published less than two years later!
Yolanda with fellow writer Jacqueline Pearce
Do you have a favourite publishing moment? A career highlight?
As I was preparing Trouble in the Trees for submission, I attended the Surrey International Writer’s Conference and did a Blue Pencil Consultation with Lois Peterson. She was amazing: encouraging, supportive, and generous with her feedback on an early draft of my query letter. It was a definite highlight for me when I launched Trouble in the Trees at Kidsbooks with other five other Orca authors — including Lois!