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Authors Among Us - Children's Writers Who Are or Who Have Been Librarians
Featured Titles by Teresa
Ring of Truth
Teresa Bateman's Forthcoming Books are:
Harp O'Gold - Holiday House (March 2001)
Farm Flu - Albert Whitman (March 2001)
The Mer-Baby - Holiday House (Fall, 2001)
Red, White, Blue and Uncle Who? - Holiday House (Fall, 2001)
The Plump and Perky Turkey - Winslow Press (Fall, 2001)
The Princesses Have a Ball - Albert Whitman (Spring, 2002)
The Eyes of the Unicorn - Holiday House (no publication date as yet)
Hunting Daddyosaurus - Albert Whitman (no publication date as yet)
|What influenced you to become a
I have wanted to be a librarian since third grade. I've always known it was my "calling." I know there are a lot of folks out there who try out a lot of things and aren't sure where they're going, but I have always wanted to be a librarian and managed my education and experiences to reach that goal. Hard to believe, huh?
Do you have a library/information science degree?
I have a Masters of Library and Information Sciences from the University of Washington.
What kinds of library positions have you held and where?
As a student, I worked in all the libraries where I attended school, either as a class or as a volunteer. I was a "page" in the King County Library System at the Issaquah Public Library from ages 16-18. As a student teacher I also volunteered at the libraries of schools where I was student teaching. As a high-school student I also spent 1-2 hours a day after school working at Clark Elementary School. (This is where I picked up 90% of the practical experience I use to this day. The Masters degree is nice, but practical experience is something that cannot be learned in a classroom.) Then I have been the librarian at Brigadoon Elementary School for the past 14 years. I got this job just as I received my Masters degree.
How long were you, or have you been, a librarian? 14 years in actuality. 35 years in heart.
Are you currently working as a librarian? Yes.
Do you plan to continue in the profession?
Yes, but it is a constant question. I still love the job. I enjoy working with teachers and students. This is where I've always wanted to be, doing what I've always wanted to do. However, I must admit that as teaching becomes more challenging and people treat the professional with increasingly diminishing respect, and the academic requirements keep going up and up and the paperwork rises accordingly, it does make me wonder. I think I'll probably keep being a librarian as long as it's "fun". I'm hoping that will be a good many more years. My writing, however, is really starting to take off. There may come a time when I cannot really do both well. We'll have to look at it again then.
Which came first in your life, your work or career as a librarian, or writing for children?
At this point I guess it's about a 60/40 split between being a librarian and being an author. It's fortunate that the two are complementary. I also have serious church responsibilities and family responsibilities that take up time and I allow neither librarianship nor writing to cut into these. Family and church will always come first.
It's funny, but I find myself slipping in and out of hats. I was at an SCBWI Conference, talking to an editor during lunch, and everyone at the table was either in the publishing or the writing field. The discussion turned to literacy in general and children's literature in particular and I was amazed at how clueless both the authors and the editor were about the current tremendous literacy push going on nation-wide. There has never been a better time for children's books. I had to put on my librarian hat and explain it to them.
They'd never even heard of
or considered it's impact on the book market. That library background
me in good stead constantly. I stand at both ends of the
publishing spectrum -- I produce the work, but I get to see what
happens to it with
its end-user. I think this is one area in which being a librarian
gives me a real edge. That's
Did your library work have anything to do with becoming a children’s writer?
It's hard to say. I've always written. All my life I've loved making up stories. So I can't say that the library work inspired me to become a writer. On the other hand I've always wanted to be a librarian, too, so it may be mixed up with that. On the other hand (how many hands does she have, you ask?) you have to admit that being surrounded by books all day and constantly saying to yourself: "Hey, even I can write better than that," may add up.
Besides, as a librarian you've already done most of the research you need to become a good children's author. You know what kids like, you know what a good book reads like, and you know the names of most of the better publishers and who publishes what kind of books. It was being a librarian that resulted in my first book being published. I was reading "Hershel and the Hannukkah Goblins" by Eric Kimmel, and, like any other librarian, I read the verso of the title page. Nobody but librarians EVER reads the verso. I noticed that it said that the story had originally appeared as a story in Cricket Magazine. At the time I was one of Cricket's most prolific authors.
Naturally I made the leap that this particular publisher published the same sort of stuff as Cricket did, but this publisher published them in hardcover books. The publisher was Holiday House. I sent a query letter to Margery Cuyler pointing out that I wrote for Cricket and they published that sort of thing. She promptly lost my letter. Six months later it showed up behind her in box and she wrote back and asked me to send some manuscripts. I sent several and they immediately purchased "The Ring of Truth." Were it not for being a librarian, I wonder what my book-publishing situation would be right now.
Did your library work directly influence your work as an author?
Sometimes yes. For example, I had students doing research on patriotic symbols, but I couldn't find one good source for them to use. I finally decided, "Hey, you're an author. You can't find a source, write one!" The result is "Red, White, Blue and Uncle Who?" which will be published in the fall of 2001.
My second book was the result of a particularly dull faculty meeting. Some people doodle, I write. "The Plump and Perky Turkey" to be published in Fall of 2001 may have resulted from the terrible lack of good Thanksgiving books that I bemoan every November.
My Irish stories always seem to pop into my head after I've just spent a week telling Irish stories to my classes during the week of St. Patrick's Day. Let's face it -- if you can write, and you have a lack in your library, the obvious thing to do is to write the book to fill the hole. That may also explain why some of my forthcoming books are about unicorns and mermaids. I'm tired of telling my students that our two books on these subjects are checked out.
Did incidents from your library work ever make it into your books? Did you ever set any scenes in your books in the library?
The only time I've really done this
a short story I wrote for Ladybug called "Miss Biblio Goes Hat-Happy"
a librarian who wears hats. In the month of May I pull out my
hat collection and wear a different one every day. I start out the
very tastefully, but by the end of it I've got my Viking helmet and my
sombrero and my dragon
What are the greatest benefits of being a librarian to you as a writer?
Constantly focussed on books. Every time I read a new book I think about my own books, and it helps me to know what's out there so I don't duplicate anything, and to notice where the gaps are.
Are there any drawbacks to being a librarian and also a writer?
Time. Boy it's hard to find time to write. I write every day after school, but many days I can only spend a few minutes on it. It was lovely to have Christmas vacation. I sat down and wrote for hours and hours. It felt so good! It is, however, nice to have the summers for writing, so a school schedule isn't all bad.
If you write while working as as librarian, how do you manage the time-juggling act? How does your employment impact on how much you write and when you do it?
Pretty much answered above. It helps that I'm single. It doesn't help that I review books for the Puget Sound Council and A/V materials for the School Library Journal. This takes a considerable chunk of time. I also have this tendency to volunteer to teach workshops. I'm insane, I know.
What I've discovered, however, is that it is possible to write on this schedule. I have a minimum standard of two lines a day. I usually write much more, but if I add two lines to my current story I have reached my daily goal. Amazingly, stories can get completed two lines at a time, if that's all the time you have. Then I spend a LOT of time editing when I read the whole story out loud and make it flow and trim it down and make it better and better. I love to edit, and my writing style requires that I edit severely.
Do you find any conflicts or job-related difficulties in being both a writer and a librarian?
It's very hard to make school visits, since the other schools are usually on the same schedule I am and my district does not let me go. My colleagues, however, love the fact that I'm an author. My principal considers it a major PR plus for the school and mentions it to people who are considering enrolling their students -- "ah yes, the published author in the library." My teachers love it, but are nervous that it will mean that I'm eventually going to quit to pursue my writing full-time. Students are blase. They think everyone's librarian writes. Parents think it's cool.
Do you feel that librarianship has specific benefits to you as a writer? If so, what are they?
Awareness, built-in-audience, surrounded by books.
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Last Updated July 11, 2005