Recently I had the privilege of meeting and being interviewed by Debbie S. George-Jones-author, book reviewer, and blogger. She is witty, a very talented artist, and a passionate humanitarian. Check out her fun blog-dSavannah Rambles and her beautiful art-dSavannah Creative!
The Questions with Christi Zellerhoff: children’s books writer
I hope y’all are having as much reading The Questions as I am posting them!
This edition features my first author of children’s books! I can’t remember when I ran across Christi, but the next thing I knew, she was getting published by Booktrope. (For funsies, read her blog post The Publisher that said “YES”. Oh, and how cute is this post, where her daughter sees the e-book for the first time?!?!?!) The book just got released in paperbook on Amazon on 11/30/12, and will be released as an e-book soon.
Anyway, her first (of many more to come) children’s picture books is Princesses Can Be Pirates Too!
Who says girls can’t play boys’ make-believe games too? “No Girls Allowed” will simply NOT do for this little Princess! The book proves that just because a girl is wearing a crown and pink fluffy dress doesn’t mean she can’t act like a pirate just as good as any boy. Yes—even a refined and dainty princess can become a rough and tumble pirate!
A princess can do what pirates can too;
she can captain a ship and take charge of the crew;
Should unfriendly pirates try climbing aboard,
she can fend of the foes with a swoosh of her sword!
And it’s already getting rave reviews on Amazon! I checked just before I published this post, and so far, it’s gotten six five-star reviews, like this one:
Princesses Can Be Pirates Too – review
As a staunch feminist, I can get behind a book that tells girls they can do/be whatever they want. (Note: See The Questions with Stephanie Kate Strohm for my take on her YA book Pilgrim’s Don’t Wear Pink, featuring a fun, intelligent, history-loving teen heroine, who, yes, loves pink.)
This also brings to mind an incident that happened to me when I was a mere lass (under 9, but I can’t remember exactly how old). As mentioned in previous posts, I’m a missionary kid. My family and I were visiting a church as part of our traveling around the U.S. asking for money to support our missionary work. I happened to be sitting quietly in a pew after service, playing with a toy car. A woman stopped and asked me if I was a boy. That got my mom all riled up. I don’t think I’ll ever forget her telling that woman “she can play with whatever she wants! Toys aren’t just for boys or just for girls!” (Paraphrasing, of course.)
Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! is illustrated by Amy Davis…. And I’m pleased to announce that Amy was convinced to answer The Questions too… and you’ll get to read her answers tomorrow!
But enough about me! On to Christi’s answers to….
9. What is a guilty pleasure?
My guilty pleasure is a McDonald’s Coke! McDonald’s Coke is unlike any other fast food restaurant. For instance: Taco Time’s Coke has a hint of lemon, Burger King’s Coke is too sweet. McDonald’s, on the other hand, has the perfect calibration of syrup and carbonation; plus, McDonald’s has the best straws! Think I am crazy? (Okay, I concede…probably fanatical.) I personally know seven other people who are McDonald’s Coke cult followers too. Shocking! We all say the same thing—yes, even the part about the straws!
(dSavannah note: What a weirdo! And I’m curious: is this every single McD’s she’s ever been to, or just the one closest to her house? Hmmm….)
12. Where is your favorite place to create?
A specific “create place” is difficult to pinpoint. My mind is always whirling. I have been known to pull over while driving and frantically searching for a napkin to scribble ideas and paragraphs. In bed, late at night, I also get inspired. A couple of nights ago I actually got up three times to write down stanzas for my new children’s book. “Why don’t you just keep a notebook by your bed?” questioned a good friend. Duh! I now carry a notebook wherever I go.
(dSavannah note: Writers and artists, take note: keeping a notebook nearby at all times is a must!)
13. Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Much to my husband’s chagrin, I am a night owl. (He wakes up at 4:00am to go to work.) I am hit with my writing inspiration around 10:00pm and am unstoppable. My creative mania kicks in and I could easily write until 2:00am or clean my house with a toothbrush if I could! In fact, he has scolded me a couple of times when he woke up only to find me still at my computer, pulling an all-nighter! Oh—I try to go to bed (8:30pm) when he does just to be “normal”, but eventually I get up and get productive—“Christi style!”
(dSavannah note: me too! My night-owlishness drives my hubs bonkers. In fact, it’s 2am as I work on this post! Christi and I have had several conversations on Facebook in the middle of the night.)
18. Your work space: neat or messy?
Messy! I guess I work better in chaos! Hmmm…what does that say about my personality?
(dSavannah note: I’m not sure…)
33. Why do you create in your medium/genre? What about it speaks to you?
Truthfully, I never envisioned myself an author of children’s books. That happened unexpectedly when I became a mom and overheard my children arguing. Viola! A story was born. More fun children’s books are in the works because my children provide constant inspiration and content!
However, many people don’t know that in my heart of hearts, drawing from my own personal experiences, I believe my “calling” is to write books that encourage hope and inspire women to overcome childhood adversity. Specifically, I want to point women heavenward, to draw on God’s strength, as a source of grace that enables forgiveness. I began writing my memoir, Forgiving the Unforgivable, four years ago. It has been a journey through pain, strengthened faith and healing. I have put it aside many times because of the pain it has evoked but recently began writing it again. It is time. Debbie, I applaud your courage to write about difficult issues that most people prefer to ignore. You inspire me.
(dSavannah note: Wow. Thank you. I’m glad my posts are inspiring you. Eventually I will write my own memoir, but I’m just now getting to where I can even consider writing it, much less actually start doing the writing.)
35. Tell me one random fact about you that not a lot of people know.
I sold used cars during my college summer breaks. It was a “beater” car lot—the cheapest car was usually $99.00 and the most expensive was $2,500. If someone wanted to test-drive a car, I often had to get the jumper cables to start it up. I lived by the motto “What you see is what you get.” I wasn’t kidding!!
36. What is the first thing you remember creating as a child? Do you still have it?
In my 2nd grade class I made a little house out of 4 wooden blocks and 1 piece of composite shingle. I had a vision—it would be yellow and green. However, when I was finished with it, each block was a different color, the windows were crooked, and the roof slanted. Do I still have it? No—my mom does and displays it proudly on her coffee table. I love her tender and sentimental heart!
(dSavannah note: I actually ask this question because my mom still has a bunch of stuff I created as a kid, and she showed it to me recently. My favorite? An “aquarium” I made out of a jelly jar with paper “fish” tied to the lid with yarn and hanging down into the “water”. I put real shells on the bottom.)
A Seattle native, Christi draws inspiration for her children’s book ideas from several typical parenting routines; watching her children play or argue, overhearing them sing or talk while driving in the car, and listening to all the amazing ideas, concerns, & questions that come up at bedtime. Princesses Can Be Pirates Too! is the first, but her children have inspired many more literary surprises already in the works!