This month, we welcome author Anne Wynter to our Member Interview Series. Look for her picture books coming soon—all published by Balzer+ Bray, Harper Collins: EVERYBODY IN THE RED BRICK BUILDING (Fall 2021,) ONE BIG DAY (Winter 2022,) HANDS ON! (Winter 2022,) and NELL PLANTS A TREE (Winter 2023.)
Where did you grow up, and how did that place (or those places) shape your work?
I grew up in Houston, TX. It’s a diverse city, so as a child I didn’t understand why there was such a lack of diversity in the books I read. From a very young age, I decided I wanted to write children’s books that reflected my reality.
Did you always want to be an author, or did that come later?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for a long time, but at different ages I’ve wanted to be a poet, a children’s book author, a playwright, etc. I had other dream jobs too – Broadway actor, astronaut, geneticist – but I never stopped wanting to be a writer.
If someone were to follow you around for 24 hours, what would they see?
They’d probably see me going for a short run, tackling 200 difficult-to-answer questions from my kids, responding to emails, cleaning up some cat vomit, doing promotional tasks for EVERYBODY IN THE RED BRICK BUILDING, cooking, answering a text from weeks ago that I completely forgot about, and reading. Maybe they’d even see me doing a little writing!
How does your everyday life feed your work?
I take a lot of inspiration from my kids and the books they respond to. I love seeing which books they revisit over and over.
Tell us about some accomplishments that make you proud.
Whenever I watch a play that I’ve written and I see the audience having strong reactions – whether they’re laughing or crying or making that “mmMM” sound when something strikes a chord – that makes me proud.
I also taught my kids to read during the pandemic! It’s not something I ever planned to do, but it was satisfying to watch all the pieces click into place for them. And seeing them get lost in a book – that’s the best.
What surprises you about the creative life?
You never know what to expect. Sometimes I’ll have an idea that I think is amazing, I’ll work on it for over a year, and it turns out to be an absolute mess. But on the other hand, I just sold a book that I wrote in one sitting (which has never happened before or since!)
When a reader discovers your work, what do you hope they find?
Comfort. Being a kid, being a parent, being a teacher – all of those can be hard. It’s nice to get to the end of a picture book or board book and feel a sense of peace or reassurance.
You’ve written stage plays … tell us about one!
I wrote a play about Cupid coming home from college and questioning whether his arrows removed a person’s ability to consent. Believe it or not, the audience laughed a lot during that show!
You’ve worked in publishing … key takeaways/experiences?
People in book publishing work very hard and genuinely care about what they do.
You’ve two kids … favorite bedtime stories?
This is difficult! SUMMER SUN RISIN’ – written by W. Nikola-Lisa and illustrated by Don Tate – comes to mind. It has such a soothing rhythm and a satisfying arc. If I happen to glimpse it on the shelf I can’t help but pick it up and read it.