Q & A with Dianne Ochiltree
I really enjoyed learning about America's first female
firefighter in Molly, by Golly! Where did the idea for the book come from?
I first found Molly Williams, and her legendary story,
when doing research on historical firefighting methods for another book I was
writing at the time. Molly was often
mentioned as being known in firefighting lore as ‘the first female firefighter
in America.’ I was hooked from the very
beginning because Molly was a strong, spunky heroine whose exciting adventure
celebrates the spirit of volunteerism and community service. It’s also a story that could teach kids how
fires were fought in America. After
doing the research for MOLLY, BY GOLLY!, I certainly had a
greater appreciation of the modern tools today’s firefighter has to fight
fires…I think kids will, too. For more
info about Molly, firefighting resources, and my previous books, I encourage
your readers to visit my website: www.ochiltreebooks.com.
Do you have a writing
process that you go through for each book you work on?
Basically, it starts with
an idea that springs from my imagination onto the daily journal page. Next comes (believe it or not) market
research to see if my idea has already been published and if so, how often and
how recently. Even if a story idea been done before, it doesn’t mean I won’t go
ahead and write it anyway. It just means
that I need to brainstorm a fresh take on the subject. Although I can type a
lot of words per minute, I can’t create a story quickly. I have to write an
excruciatingly long series of lousy drafts.
Eventually, there will be a non-lousy draft that is ‘close enough to
finished’ to start the submission process.
Even after being acquired by an editor, every one of my books has needed
some revision before heading out the publisher’s door to the printer.
How long have you been
writing for children and how did you get into it?
I’ve been writing for kids
since 1995. My first writing career was in advertising, marketing and public
relations, I worked full-time pre-motherhood and freelance
post-motherhood. When our youngest child
graduated from picture books to novels, I had a hard time with the idea of not
having picture books in my life, either.
So why not try my hand at writing them? My ongoing research and education in the field
of children’s writing began. I joined SCBWI, took writing classes, joined two
critique groups and went to every children’s writer conference within the
tri-state area (near my previous home in Pennsylvania). I just fell in love
with writing for kids, and never looked back!
What do you like to do
when you aren't writing?
I love walking our
chocolate Labrador retriever, Sally, and sharing visits to local nursing homes
with her as the human half of our certified therapy dog team. I also practice yoga. Right now, I am completing the Yoga Alliance
200-hour RYT teacher training progam. And of course, I’m constantly reading! On
the nightstand now: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein.
Are you working on
something new right now?
The WIP that gets most
keyboard time these days is a manuscript about a super-cool and quirky grandmother’s
adventures with her grand-daughter…inspired no doubt by my impending real-life
role as a first-time grandparent. My
next picture book, GOODNIGHT, FIREFLY, a counting book starring a little girl
and her daddy, will be published in 2013 by Blue Apple Books.
Visit Dianne at her website, http://www.ochiltreebooks.com/