Meet the faculty of the 2015 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We've asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.
Next in the series is Chris Barton.
Chris is the author of the picture books The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer’s Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors (winner, American Library Association Sibert Honor), Shark Vs. Train (a New York Times bestseller), and Attack! Boss! Cheat Code! A Gamer's Alphabet, as well as the young adult nonfiction thriller Can I See Your I.D.? True Stories of False Identities.
His 2015 publications include picture book biographies The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch and The Nutcracker Comes to America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition.
Chris and his wife, novelist Jennifer Ziegler (Revenge of the Flower Girls), live in Austin with their family.
What attracted you to children’s books?
When one of my kids was a toddler, he asked me to tell him over and over and over the story of how I had installed a smoke alarm. One morning my mind made the leap to writing that story down (so that maybe somebody else could tell him that story for a change), to making up other stories like that one (so that he might enjoy those, too), to getting those stories published. By lunchtime, I’d learned of the existence of SCBWI, and writing books for children has been a part of my life ever since.
What’s the best part of your job?
It’s the people I get to spend time with – my interview subjects, my editors, my agent, illustrators and other authors in Austin and across the country, librarians and teachers, and especially the kids themselves. I love the solitary time I have to write my books, but those human connections have been even more deeply rewarding to me.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Striking the right balance between standing up for my vision of what’s best for a story or book and remaining unmistakably open to collaboration and compromise with the many other talented professionals who have a stake in a book’s success.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
It’s advice that I gave myself back when the only social media taking up my time was my blog (Bartography, now in its tenth year), and which has become only more relevant in the years since: any outlet that’s not a book is a secondary medium in support of my primary medium, which is the books themselves. If I’m not working on getting more books written, there’s not going to be anything for those social-media efforts to support.
Come see Chris at the 2015 Austin SCBWI conference, March 7-8.