1. What books/authors have influenced you and why?
The picture books of Ezra Jack Keats and William Steig are a huge inspiration to me, as are the works of Amy Krouse Rosenthal, Kelly DiPucchio and Matt de la Pena. I am in awe of the voices of Virginia Woolf, Saul Bellow and Milan Kundera, and I love when authors take me somewhere I've never been (Mark Dunn, Ella Minnow Pea) and approach storytelling in a completely original way (Mark Haddon, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time). If I could find my way inside of Lewis Carroll's Wonderland or Roald Dahl's Chocolate Factory, I'm certain I'd never leave. Magic, big truths, fresh storytelling - these are the things that take my breath away and inspire my writing.
2. What has been a fascinating writing research experience for you? Does a memory stick with you?
I love studying the work of picture book masters, particularly going into a famous author's deep tracks. I've found that lesser-known titles often have the most intriguing themes and executions. In the Night Kitchen and Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak (dream-state companions to Where the Wild Things Are) know no bounds. They are unusual, incredibly imaginative and downright brave. In studying Margaret Wise Brown, I fell head-over-heels for The Important Book, in which Goodnight Moon's famed author expertly distills everyday objects and realities into the most memorable and sensory-rich poems. These authors are the-best-of-the-best. True artists. Reading their work shows you what is possible when talent and skill meet confidence and creative abandon.
3. What are your current/future projects?
With the expert guidance of my fabulous agent Stephanie Hansen, owner of Metamorphosis, I'm currently in submission for my holiday picture book The Santa Mission, which helps facilitate a next-level understanding of Santa Claus, pointing to the all-knowing love of God and introducing an exciting new tradition that keeps the magic alive. The Santa Mission is completely reflective of what makes me tick as a writer: Deep within my heart is the need to connect readers to big, beautiful truths. In addition to my Santa book, I'm writing a series of picture books that features a protagonist with substantial special needs. In all of my research, I have never found a recurring main character that is non-verbal and non-ambulatory - yet I'm often asked to recommend such a book. As I undertake this project, Ezra Jack Keats is the gold standard. I love the way that he wrote about Peter, showing his world through vibrant everyday adventures. His books are my mentor texts.
4. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I would tell myself that it's possible to make my writing dreams come true. My husband and our three girls somewhat recently moved to a bigger home. When I finally got around to fully unpacking, I uncovered a big box of childhood writing projects - picture book prototypes, sketch books, story outlines, volumes of poetry, a dictionary of terms for a fictional world, a hand-made thesaurus, for crying out loud. From the time I was old enough to hold a crayon, I have been writing and telling stories. When I stopped my 9-to-5 job to stay home with my three girls (about three years ago), my childhood dreams resurfaced and wouldn't be ignored. Though the route was circuitous, I made it back. I would tell myself that we'll get there, and that it will be so incredibly exciting.
5. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you? (website, blog, social media?) Please include links.
Twitter is such a fun place to connect with other writers and kidlit enthusiasts. It's also a great way to keep your ear to the ground, to hear about publishing workshops, author events, trending topics and book marketing ideas. I learn a dozen new and helpful things every day there, and the network I've developed has been such a huge encouragement to me. (I'd love to connect with you too! You can find me on Twitter at @anitraschulte) Blogging through my author website (www.anitraroweschulte.com) is another way that I share about new picture books (through reviews and spotlight features), projects I'm working on, and my family life. My eldest daughter Elsa has a rare chromosome disorder called Wolf-Hirschhorn Syndrome (she's the inspiration for my new project), and I share a lot about her journey there. Please visit, and let me know what posts resonate with you!