Thursday, October 8, 2015

"Be A Change Maker" – The 2015 Crystal Kite Interview with Laurie Ann Thompson

In the West Division, the winner of the Crystal Kite Award is "Be a Change Maker" by SCBWI Western Washington member Laurie Ann Thompson!

Author Laurie Ann Thompson

Lee: Please tell us about your Crystal-Kite winning book!

Laurie: BE A CHANGEMAKER: HOW TO START SOMETHING THAT MATTERS is a how-to guide for teens who want to effect positive social change in their communities or around the world. Equal parts instruction and inspiration, the book includes advice and exercises as well as profiles of young people who’ve already launched a social venture. My goal with the book was to convince kids that they really can be the changes they wish to see in the world... and then give them the tools to go out and start doing it, right now. 

Lee: Are you seeing nonfiction books for young readers getting more respect now, and is your win perhaps a welcome sign of that?

Laurie: I think so. The demand for nonfiction for young readers has increased due to the Common Core State Standards, which has definitely resulted in more respect for children’s nonfiction authors. The standards have also led to more high-quality nonfiction titles being available in recent years, which in turn allows more readers to discover how much they enjoy reading nonfiction for kids. It’s even starting to cross over just like YA fiction did: I’ve had many adults tell me how much they enjoyed my book and learned from it. That was a welcome surprise, indeed! 

Lee: How long have you been involved with SCBWI, and can you share what you feel you’ve gained by being a member?

Laurie: I joined SCBWI in 2004, and shortly after I started working on what eventually became BE A CHANGEMAKER. Besides years of education on craft and marketing, countless manuscript consultations, and bi-weekly meetings with my fabulous critique group--all of which were made possible by SCBWI--volunteering for the organization also let me be a changemaker myself. Being a co-regional advisor for SCBWI Western Washington was a life-changing experience for me, and I was able to lean on those experiences for research and anecdotes that ended up in the book later. FInally, the camaraderie from my SCBWI pals is what kept me going all those years. This book simply would not exist without SCBWI. 

Lee: Do you have any advice to share with other children’s book writers and illustrators?

Laurie: Find yourself a community! Becoming an author is usually a pretty long, hard road: Don’t let it be a lonely one, too! You’ll need peers to ask what you’re working on so you’re accountable for producing new material. You’ll need trusted readers to give you good feedback to help make your work shine and help your craft grow. You’ll need friends--friends who really get it--to help you up when you get knocked down… and to help you celebrate when you succeed! I believe that kidlit people are the nicest people in the world, so no matter how much of an introvert you are, don’t be afraid to connect and make some like-minded friends. You never know where it might lead!

Thanks, Laurie!

I also contacted Dana Sullivan and Dana Arnim, the co-Regional Advisors for SCBWI Western Washington, to find out more about Laurie and their region. Here's what they shared:

The Western Washington chapter congratulates Laurie Ann Thompson on her recent honor of winning the Crystal Kite award for Be a Change Maker: How to Start Something That Matters.

Laurie joined SCBWI in 2005 and spent many years volunteering for our Advisory Committee, before stepping up to serve as our Co-Regional Advisor from 2009 to 2011, leading with a calm, encouraging and enthusiastic hand. She continues to volunteer on our Advisory Committee as both Nonfiction Coordinator and Published Member Liaison. With all her knowledge, mad diplomacy skills and writing chops, we just can’t let her go.

Laurie is most definitely on a literary roll. Be a Changemaker published in September, 2014 and her picture books, Emmanuel’s Dream and My Dog Is the Best hit the shelves in January and June, 2015. Somehow, between her SCBWI duties, school visits, raising two kids and a dog (with the help of SCBWI-widower Bernie) she manages to keep to a rigorous writing schedule, fueling rumors about more book deals under way.

Congratulations, Laurie! Your years of volunteering, mentoring and organizing have already earned you a place in our soggy, northwest hearts. Your Crystal Kite win is so well-deserved and honors not just your writing, but your tenacity and desire to make the world a better place. Western Washington is a much better place for having you in it.

About our chapter

The Western Washington chapter of SCBWI spans north/south from the British Columbia border to Oregon and east/west from the Cascade Mountains to the Olympic peninsula. Most of our 800 or so members tend to live in the Seattle/Bellevue area, but our island members are loyal and prolific, if somewhat reclusive. We hold monthly Kid Lit Drink Nights through the year; regular monthly chapter meetings with presentations from October through May; annual writer retreats; and collaborative illustrator retreats with the Oregon chapter every other year. Our wildly popular Inside Story is held twice a year at rotating bookstores to celebrate and promote the recent publications of our local authors and illustrators. For 24 years we have presented an annual conference with stellar faculty, breakout sessions, roundtable manuscript critiques, portfolio showcase, full-day master classes, and a faculty/attendee cocktail party.

Find out more about Laurie at her website here.

And to learn more about SCBWI Western Washington, visit their regional website here.

Congratulations again to Laurie on "Be A Change Maker: How To Start Something That Matters" winning the 2015 Crystal Kite Award!

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