Sunday, May 7, 2017

Q&A with Michelle Staubach Grimes

Michelle Staubach Grimes is the author of the children's picture book Where Is Pidge?. She has worked as a lawyer and in sports marketing, and she lives in Dallas.

Q: How did you come up with the idea for Pidge and her family?

A: While Where is Pidge? is a work of fiction, those that know my family will recognize some truths. The character is named after my mom, Marianne Hoobler Staubach. Her childhood nickname was Pidge. Her dad said she slept like a little pigeon so he called her Pidge.

I named the character Pidge to honor my mom; however, the character’s personality is not like my mom. My mom is the oldest of five children and a rule follower. Pidge is the middle of seven children, curious, and doesn’t always follow the rules.

The idea of Pidge came from various real incidents in my life while raising my kids, yet it also embodies my childhood. I’m one of five children. While I’m not technically the middle child, the first three daughters were born in four years (two more siblings came six years later) so I was raised like a middle child sandwiched between two sisters. 

In the story, Pidge is trying to find her place in her family and feel validated, which I can relate to growing up in a big family. I believe we are all trying to find our place be it in our family or in the world, and working to make our families and the world a better place.

Q: What do you hope young readers take away from the story?

A: I hope every child knows they are loved, even when they may not feel loved. I want children to know that their emotions are real, that they feel validated, understand the importance of gratitude, and serving others.

Pidge is the story of one child learning that she is loved and important despite her misconceptions. But the story is bigger than one child. The message conveyed to every child that reads this book and any adult reading the book is  - we are all important with a place in this world, and we have a duty to help others.

Q: At what point did you see the illustrations, and what do you think they add to the book?

A: I was involved with the illustrations from day one. I collaborated with my illustrator so I was able to tell him I wanted Pidge to have blonde, curly, frizzy hair, etc.

I gave my illustrator some thoughts on my vision of the characters and the scenes, then I let go and he went to work. I’m not an illustrator so our minds work differently. I was amazed at his art and fell even more in love with Pidge and her family after he completed the illustrations.

One can’t place a value on the illustrations. They bring the characters to life visually for the reader. I will be forever grateful to my illustrator.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: Right now I’m working on Pidge Book #2 (title to be determined). I’ve written and the manuscript has been edited. The illustrator is working on the final art. I hope to launch Pidge Book #2 in the fall of 2017. 

I’m also writing another children’s book about a mother’s unconditional love for her son. This is not a part of the Pidge series, but I hope to publish it in the next few years along with more Pidge books.

Q: Anything else we should know?

A: I’m a mother of three teenagers and have been married to my very patient husband for 20 years. We also have two dogs. I love to write and create new stories. I also enjoy the editing phase of the book with my fabulous editor, although editing can be very tedious and stressful at times. 

I began my writing career in 2012 when I enrolled in the Southern Methodist University (SMU) Continuing Ed Creative Writing Program. I wanted to hone my writing skills and planned to write a short non-fiction piece.

I fell in love with creative writing and drafted a women’s adult novel while I continued taking classes studying the art of storytelling. One day I began writing the story of Pidge, and my passion continues through the expression of the written word.

--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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