From Bluebeard to KidLit
From researching a serial wife murderer to writing for children is less of a jump than might at first appear. Casie Hermansson has launched on a creative writing venture after publishing her study of the notorious and bloody fairy tale figure: Bluebeard: A Reader's Guide to the English Tradition in August 2009 (University Press of Mississippi).
She has her first story for young readers forthcoming in April in Australia's Explore Magazine.
"'Monty is from Mars' is in the voice of a first grader, participating in the shared fantasy that his new friend is in fact a Martian, " says Hermansson.
Explore is published by Pearson, an education publisher, and the magazine will be used in schools, with one minor change.
"I had to give permission for them to change references to 'first grade' in the story to whatever the Australian equivalent would be!"
Hermansson's first acceptance in the area of children's literature came from AppleSeeds, a national social studies magazine for 8-12 year olds, also used in schools and libraries.
"The magazine is themed, and they listed an issue for 2010 on Medieval Times," Hermansson notes. "I pitched writing about the dirtiest jobs of that time: anything that used excrement as a main ingredient. I was not very surprised that they chose it; what 8-12 year old isn't fascinated by that?"
Hermansson published some poetry as a graduate student at the University of Toronto, and even drafted a picture book text, but had not continued her creative writing at PSU.
"About two years before I finished writing Bluebeard," she says, "I acknowledged that writing for children was something I very much wanted to do. I have two elementary aged children, and I had read enormous amounts of children's writing -good and bad-over the years."
Hermannson says that writing for children is not easy.
"Bad writing is easy; but writing well, and getting that published, is incredibly difficult."
But she had to finish Bluebeard first. "It was a bit frustrating. Bluebeard took six years. For the last two, I had to set aside the writing I wanted to get going on, for children, in order to get that book finished!"
Learning and honing a new craft has been exciting.
"I'm reveling in being able to devote much of my time to learning something new to do with language, which is what I'm in this profession for, and what I love. But I love learning as well, and it has been exciting to get to grips with a completely different industry."
In addition, she is learning also to market herself as a children's writer.
"You have to build a platform to be attractive to publishers," Hermansson comments. "You have to spend a huge amount of time reading other industry people's websites and blogs too; it's a very online industry."
Hermansson blogs at www.casiehermansson.com .
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