Interview with LaRonda Gardner Middlemiss
1. What books/authors have influenced you and why?
Wow, there are so many picture books that inspire me. And that inspiration may be from the story itself, the style of writing, the artwork, or some combination of the three. I will go with some of the first picture books I encountered before embarking on my writing journey. Books by Sandra Boynton, Little Blue Truck by Alice Schertle was a big one, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker, Full, Full, Full of Love by Trish Cooke, the list goes on. These were books that my son really enjoyed, so I suppose that’s why I feel a greater connection to them. I also continue to find inspiration in works by authors and illustrators such as Arree Chung, Vanessa Brantley Newton, Dan Santat, Jon Klassen and Jory John.
2. How do you develop your plot and characters?
Most of my characters are born from the same place, some spark of inspiration from my son. At their core, my stories have themes aligned with being true to oneself, letting your light shine, and pushing beyond any self-imposed or societal limits placed on you. Although, I will say I am beginning to explore manuscripts with more of a humorous slant.
3. Tell me about your protagonist. What's your favorite trait and/or weakness?
The protagonist in my picture book stories are typically characters who are in some way different and/or have a uniqueness about them. I aim to share and celebrate diversity in characters without focusing on the fact that they are different, just allowing them to be and experience the world in their own ways.
4. Same with your antagonist?
Typically the antagonist is a non-human element. It’s something the protagonist is attempting to conquer, learn or overcome.
5. What are your current/future projects?
My debut picture book, I Love Me!, was acquired by Beaming Books and is slated for publication in Spring 2020.
6. Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
Not really, I don’t think. When I get an idea, I typically move it around my head for a bit. Sometimes I’ll jot a note in my phone (or iPad, etc.) if there’s a lot going on and I feel the idea or pieces might get lost in the shuffle of life. Then at some point, I will type out a rough draft of what I’ve built in my head. Next, I create a rough storyboard using stick figures to see how the text flows and the best opportunities for page turns. After that I make a rough dummy, but I may let the storyboard sit for a bit until I feel ready to move forward with it. My goal is to expedite the first part of the process, so I begin to see it on paper sooner and stop trying to hold it all in my head.
7. What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you? (website, blog, social media?) Please include links.
8. If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
Be confident and keep pushing forward.
9. What does literary success look like to you?
Children across the globe being enlightened, empowered and entertained by my work.
Find out more about LaRonda's books here: https://www.iscribeisketch.com/books