Monday, September 05, 2011

Getting to know you: Robyn Campbell

From the 22nd August to the 31st October, Rach Harrie from Rach Writes is running the 3rd Writer's Platform-Building Campaign. Unfortunately, it's too late to sign up now, but it's not too late to get to know some fabulous writers or their blogs. 


The idea of the campaign is to connect writers at all different stages of their journey and to pay it forward by helping them build their platforms. Now that Rach has set up the campaign it's basically up to us campaigners to make things happen. There's a little something special going on today as part of the campaign and I can't wait to find out what it is, but meanwhile let's get on with interviewing a a fellow blogger. This week it's the turn of Robyn Campbell, a writer of picture books and children's/middle grade books. When I stopped by to take a look I also discovered that Robyn ran a farm and had seven kids!

So Robyn, what is it like running a farm, being a mum to seven kids and being a writer? 

It's wonderful. I have a lot of food for my imagination on the farm. The boys and Ivy have always given me a lot of nourishment for the characters I write about. They are all in my books without even knowing about it. HA! The farm life can be hectic so I have to schedule my writing around that. I love to be in the barn with the sounds of the horses munching on grass or hay, the chickens clucking, cats meowing, dogs jumping around. It is great for the imagination.  

I noticed when I was looking at your blog that WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE is one of your favourite picture books. I totally love that book, so I was wondering what do you think makes it so special? 

Where the Wild Things Are is the picture book that I wish I would have written. It's pure genius! Even to this day, every time I walk through the pages of that book, I'm whisked away with Max and when we return, we find supper waiting for us. It is always that real to me. Maurice Sendak's imagination must have been set to high level. 

I also saw on your blog that you write picture books and middle grade/Children's books; for you what are the similarities and differences between the two genres? 

What a great question! Of course we know the ways that they are very different. Different age levels, different reading levels, one has illustrations, most middle grade novels do not. But they do have similarities too. Most middle grade content can be written for picture books. Which I love. Because I have a picture book that I am going to use as an outline for a middle grade novel. I remember a post by Jodell Sadler about incorporating literary devices common to picture books into older genres. Things such as onomatopoeia and consonance help the readers feel like they are more present to place and scene.  Another device that picture book writers use is the power of threes. People that write middle grade novels are using these more and more too. And of course, more middle grade books have spot illustrations to draw the reader in and help them connect.

This year I had a bit of a revelation re plotting, but I think in my heart of hears I'm a pantster, so which are you?

Egad! *hides face* Panster. Without a doubt. I hate outlines. They bore me. If I had to write an outline, the book might never get written. But there is one thing I do. I write the synopsis first. It helps me rein in my characters. And it might not be the synopsis I show to my agents or editors when the book is finished and it's really, really, really short, but it works for me.  

One thing I like doing on my blog is pointing writer's in the direction of top writing tips. What is yours?

My top writing tip is this: When I am stuck in a scene and can't quite figure out where it's going I draw it out on paper. Believe me. This works. And you don't have to be a skilled artist, because I'm not. But inside those drawings my mind connects and I figure out the scene and immediately write it in. 

I like that idea, it sounds a bit like a mind map, but one I can work with. So after writing tips, I like to find good resources, what's your most valuable writing resource? 

My most valuable writing resource is my writing. I have read the how to books. But for me, actually writing my stories makes me a better writer. And I learn more from writing and fixing mistakes than reading those books. I will say that The Art of Styling Sentences is an awesome book on that subject. Also Chapter After Chapter is a great book. It's written by Heather Sellers. She also wrote Page After Page. These books show focus. Which I need. 

So to wrap up this week's interview, why did you join the challenge Robyn? 

I joined the challenge to connect with other like minded folk. I love learning about other writers and sharing with them. I've met some awesome writers in the blogosphere. People that I consider to be my friends. I love the bonds we all share.


Thanks Robyn for taking the time to answer these questions, because after all we can all see that you are one busy lady. 


Thank you for this awesome opportunity Michele. <3


No problem. If you'd like to find out more about Robyn, you can visit here at her blog Putting Pen to Paper and her website. And lastly don't forget to drop in next week for another 'Getting to know you' session. 


25 comments:

Lady Gwen said...

7 kids and a farm? Wow, it's amazing that you find time for anything! I absolutely love "Where the Wild Things Are," too. It takes you to another world, one that you can share with your children.

Beth Kemp said...

Wow, I thought I was busy! Nice interview. It's absolutely true that writing is something you learn by doing. This is a great feature for the campaign.

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

I know I definitely feel like I have LOADS of time now. And we can now start a Where the Wild Things are fanclub!

Robyn Campbell said...

Thank you Lady Gwen! (MY internet has been out all day.) I love the wild things. BEST PICTURE BOOK EVAH!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Beth! It is a super feature. I had fun with it. Michele had an excellent idea!

Robyn Campbell said...

A Where the Wild Things Are fanclub. KEWL! Michele, you are full of the best ideas!

The Golden Eagle said...

Great interview!

I shall have to try drawing things out sometime. I like visuals . . . but never tried it with a story scene. :)

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

Great Interview, Michelle. I enjoyed learning more about Robyn. I'm so impressed that she can get anything written at all with 7 kids and a farm! I like her concept that the best way to learn writing is from your own writing -- i.e., writing more and more. And I really like her idea of writing a short synopsis first. I have a hard time with outlines, (in writing, anyway), but this sounds so doable. I'm going to try it on my next WIP. (Too late for the current one.)

Diane said...

Love Robyn... she's a sweetie! Fun interview to read through. :O)

the wild magnolia said...

It is always good to hear from different writers. Interesting to know where they are coming from in the real.

People are fun.

Thanks for sharing!

Robyn Campbell said...

Eagle, visuals are my thing too. Doing it with a story scene just seemed to fit me.

Robyn Campbell said...

Elizabeth, thank you for your kind words. I truly appreciate it. Writing the short synopsis first works for me at least. I bet you'll like it. I am not an outliner at all. Outlining makes me shudder. :-)

Robyn Campbell said...

Thanks Diane. I love you too. *waving*

Robyn Campbell said...

Magnolia, people are fun. Aren't they?

LynNerd said...

I love this interview of Robyn. I'm here from her blog. I learned some really cool stuff from this. Drawing the picture to help write the scene is something I've never tried before. I'm going to remember that. Nice interview, Michele.

I came sooooooo close to signing up for the Campaign, but with my grandson being born on Aug. 26th, I knew I couldn't keep up. Have fun with the Campaining.

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

Hi Robyn, I was kind of joking about the WTWTA fan club, but I bet there is one of Facebook :)
And Golden Eagle, yeah the drawing is a really cool idea isn't it.
Elizabeth, I was rubbish at outlines and have never used one, but I tried the Snowflake method to plan my next WIP and it actually felt quite good. I still haven't written a word of it yet though!
Diane, I'm finding out exactly how sweet she is.
@Wild Magnolia, it's a good point you make. I personally find that blogs help us connect better 'for real'.
@Lyn have fun with your Grandson.

Ciara said...

I thought three kids were a time pit. Oh, I've always dreamed of living on a farm. :) It is great to get to know you, Robyn. Great interview.

catherinemjohnson said...

Wow Robyn, I ought to know by now you have 7 kids and a farm, you do have your hands full! Lovely to hear more about you. And so helpful about picture books being useful for writing Middle Grade. I'm fairly new to Middle Grade and hoped that being a pb writer helped a bit. I am trying to be a plotter but I change the story so much in the first draft you wouldn't recognise it. I'd love to read your Middle Grade stuff some time, if you don't mind.
Nice to *meet* you Michelle.

Patti said...

Great interview Robyn and how did I not know that you lived on a farm and had 7 kids. I now bow down to you.

Anne Payne said...

What Robyn didn't mention is that she is not only super busy at home but she ALSO takes time to encourage and mentor young writers and their mothers ;) We ♥ Miss Robyn!!!

Elizabeth Varadan aka Mrs. Seraphina said...

BTW: Because you are a new follower, you have been entered in the contest to win a free copy of my MG Fantasy, The Fourth Wish. Check out the rules for increasing your chances on my August 26th post, and good luck. Friday, Sept. 9th is the last day.

Grillyfish said...

I love this idea for the campaign and I cannot even begin to imagine 7 kids OR a farm, let alone both! I am in on the WTWTA fan club though :)

Medeia Sharif said...

I'm going to try drawing when I'm stuck in a scene. Thanks for the tip, Robyn.

Great interview.

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Don't you just adore Robyn! She is some kind of special mom, woman and friend.

She's already worrying about what we are going to do for a special writer friend for his 12th birthday...

She has a great heart!

Wonderful interview!

Michele Helene (Verilion) said...

Well it certainly seems like everybody got a lot out of Robyn's interview and she is certainly one special lady as I am finding out.

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