Please Welcome Gabi Snyder to my blog! I love Gabi. We met through a picture book group called 12×12, and are now both part of the Debut Crew. I confess, I may be fangirling to have her on my site. I actually read her book announcement before we met and thought it sounded brilliant! I’m excited for you all to learn more about her.
Now on to the interview! As always, I’m in green.
Hi Gabi, welcome to my blog!
Hi Janet! I’m excited to be here!
Can you tell us a little about yourself and how you came to write children’s books?
Back in the day (early aughts), I studied English-Creative Writing at The University of Texas, with a focus on writing fiction for adults. After earning my MA, I took a succession of jobs that used writing (like grant writing and instructional design), but I wasn’t finding much time to do my own writing.
Fast forward to 2013: when my kids were little (3 and 5), we moved from Austin to Corvallis, Oregon. With a break from work following the move, I found time to get back to my own writing. Only, by then, reading daily with my two littles, I’d become immersed in the world of picture books and fallen in love with this form of storytelling.
Isn’t it an amazing form? I’m totally in love, too. Your book is so fun! Please tell us what it’s about.
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE starts with a gate left open and a dog escaping her yard to join a poodle on a trike. Soon it’s three dogs on a scooter and then four dogs on a bike. With each new mode of transportation, a new dog is added to the fun. But what the pups don’t notice is that the original dog’s family cat is in hot pursuit.
It’s such a fun premise! I can just imagine kids giggling over that cat. What inspired you to write Two Dogs on a Trike?
If I had to guess which picture book I reread the most as a child, I’d name GO, DOG. GO! by P.D. Eastman. The silly dogs and sense of movement and fun in TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE are, in part, an homage to the P.D. Eastman classic. In TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, we count up to 10 and back down again while moving through different and escalating modes of transportation.
And the dog versus cat dynamic that plays out in the story was inspired, in part, by my childhood pets. I grew up with a cat we called Kinko (named for his kinked tail) and an assortment of dogs. Kinko was the undisputed boss. Now my family includes one daredevil dog and one cat who keeps us all in line.
Haha! I had cats growing up, too, and they definitely keep us all in line.
I love that your book leaves so much room for the reader to create a story. Sparse text books can be really tricky, and yours makes it look easy! I would love to hear about your revision process. Was the initial draft pretty similar to this, or what kind of edits did you have to make?
Great question! Unlike most of my stories, drafting TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE was fairly quick and painless. It came out mostly whole. Of course, my brilliant critique partners still had suggestions for taking it to the next level. For instance, looking back at my first draft I see that the first line of the story initially read “One dog on the sidewalk.” With help from my critique partners, that line changed to “One dog, all alone…”. And then, when working with my editor, Meredith Mundy at Abrams, she pointed out that Sandra Boynton’s book HIPPOS GO BERSERK opens with this line: “One hippo, all alone . . ..” I wanted my opening line to vary more from the first line of that Boynton classic, so we changed that line to “One dog stands alone.”
So fun to see the evolution! Thank you for sharing. I feel like I just got a peek into your secret lab. 😊
Okay, so hearing about the story, and knowing you have a dog and cat, any chance we can see a picture? Everyone loves pet pictures.
Camille (the dog) and Henry (the cat) love to help me write! Camille likes to drape herself across my lap as I type, and Henry keeps my manuscripts warm and furry.
Adorable! What a cozy way to write. 😸🐶
Finally, the art. I love the bold colors and the simple, yet intricate images (which is quite the feat!). The illustrator, Robin Rosenthal, conveys so much emotion and humor and makes it look effortless! What is your favorite image from the book, and why?
I am absolutely smitten with Robin’s illustrations. And I love the 80’s retro vibe of the fashion choices.
Aren’t those the best??! The 80’s rocked.
For the first half of the story, the dogs are oblivious to the fact that they’re being followed. When we reach “10 dogs,” there’s a realization. That last animal? Not a dog! The revelation spread and the one that follows are my favorite images in the story. And while my illustration notes made clear who that not a dog is, I didn’t specify where we are. Robin Rosenthal’s illustration for that spread is hilarious and unexpected! I gasped in surprise when I saw it, and yet it feels like the inevitable “of course!” choice. Truly perfection.
It totally felt inevitable! It’s a neat thing to watch an illustrator’s work not only bring a story to life, but add that extra to make it that much MORE.
Okay, one last question. Here on my blog, I have a fascination for personalized license plates. What do you think the dogs (and the cat!) in your story might choose for a personalized license plate? You have 8 characters. Go!
Those are purrfect! (I couldn’t resist! Haha!) Thanks so much for stopping in!
Thanks so much for hosting me, Janet! 😊
TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE will be released on May 19th. To learn more about Gabi, her book, and where to find her on social media, see below!
Reader. Writer. Lover of chocolate. Watch for Gabi Snyder’s debut picture book, TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE, coming from Abrams/Appleseed in spring 2020, and her second picture book, LISTEN (working title) from Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books in spring 2021. Gabi lives in Oregon with her family, including one daredevil dog and the cat who keeps everyone in line.
If possible, consider buying TWO DOGS ON A TRIKE from your local bookstore. You can use Indiebound to find a local store.
If you don’t have a local indie or if they’re not able to take online orders, consider supporting local bookstores by ordering from Bookshop.
Wow it has been forever-and-a-day since I did one of these. Have I really been that distracted? (And uh, no need to answer that.)
So I went back to tally the votes on cats vs. dogs, and what I am really learning is that I need to stop with the pre-conceived notions thing. I TOTALLY thought this vote would go a certain direction and it did not. So lets see those results and then have a chat.
Total votes: 27
Cats: 13 votes; 48%
Dogs: 8 votes; 29%
Raccoons: 1 vote; 4%
Both: 4 votes; 15%
Neither: 1 vote; 4%
I was certain, certain!, dogs would take this thing. Hands down. And yet here we are. So I want to break this down. WHY did I have that mistaken notion? Was it because I simply don’t know my readers well enough? Am I unfairly biased against cats? Was I brainwashed by an evil dog-lover?
Surely not! And I have a theory. When was the last time you saw an unfavorable portrayal of a dog in a movie? Or even in a book. I mean, they must exist, right? But I can’t think of one. Perhaps part of it is that Cats and Dogs has been in my car DVD player of late and therefore watched a bajillion times or so (well, heard, as the case may be). But that movie is simply evidence of the stereotype that has been perpetuated over the years that dogs are loving and loyal and inherently good, whereas cats are selfish devils surely working on some sinister plot.
Lady and the Tramp. 101 Dalmations. Old Yeller. Lassie. Air Bud. Beethoven. The list goes on.
My husband brought up Aristocats, but not one of Disney’s more successful films. Am I missing something? What are your thoughts? Is it a conspiracy? Have dogs taken over the media?
Okay, so I’ll step off my soap box now and move on (and no, I’m not telling you what I voted for because I fear backlash).
Anyhoo, next debate (in honor of the upcoming Superbowl):
First, I want to thank everyone for their great reading suggestions from last week. In fact, I think you are inspiring me to add another page to my blog. Something along the lines of “Book Suggestions.” The idea is definitely swirling in my brain.
Now on to the subject at hand as a This vs. That post is LONG overdue. So, without further ado, I will jump to the numbers. As you recall, we were debating the finer points of staying up late vs. getting up early:
Total votes: 21
Stay up late: 10 votes; 47%
Get up early: 7 votes; 33%
Neither: 2 votes; 10%
Both: 2 votes; 10%
Clearly we have a couple of crazies with us. Both? Egad you two are gluttons for punishment. At the very least, I hope you sneak in a nap somewhere. OR, I guess if you have superpowers, that would work, too.
Ooh! Random thought: Next time someone asks, “If you could choose any superpower, what would it be?” I am totally choosing the superpower of not needing sleep. Wouldn’t that be awesome??? Think about how much you could accomplish!
Okay, okay, back to the subject . . . Other than those two bizarre votes, these results are as they should be (so hopefully you can guess where I voted). As one commenter said (and I’m paraphrasing), the glory of staying up late is that you have this huge supply of extra time you can take advantage of! And don’t we all need extra time? (*wink,wink*)
On the other hand, if you get up early, the day starts at the same time, just like every other morning and you get no extra time. Why not? Because you had to get up early to make up for the lost time of going to bed early. Seriously. Think about that.
But not for too long, because you have to make some decisions on the next debate:
|Picture courtesy of Reb Sumner|