Beagles and Books is honored to host an interview with author Laura Renauld. Her debut picture book, Porcupine’s Pie will be released next week. Stay tuned for my review of this heartwarming story of sharing and friendship on the blog later this week.
Written by Laura Renauld
Illustrated by Jennie Poh
Beaming Books (October 9, 2018)
Porcupine can’t wait to share Fall Feast with her woodland friends, so when everyone she greets is unable to bake their specialty due to a missing ingredient, Porcupine generously offers staples from her pantry. When Porcupine discovers that she, too, is missing a key ingredient, the friends all work together to create a new Fall Feast tradition. Porcupine’s Pie will inspire children ages 4-8 to act generously. A recipe for “friendship pie” can be found at the end of the book.
Congratulations on your debut picture book, Porcupine’s Pie Laura! Tell me a little about your writing journey. Have you always enjoyed writing?
Thank you, Laura! I’m so happy to share my book with your readers. Ever since I can remember, books and reading have been an important part of my life. I could sit on my bed and travel to another planet, share a cake with a panda, or hideout in an art museum. I found friends and adventures between the pages. I don’t remember writing being part of my childhood in quite the same way. I kept a lot of journals and I created a town newspaper with a friend that we distributed to the neighborhood, but I didn’t start writing stories until I was an adult.
Where did you get the inspiration to write Porcupine’s Pie?
Have you heard of Tara Lazar’s Picture Book Idea Month (now Storystorm)? I’ve participated every year since 2011. Published authors share idea-gathering strategies in daily posts. It encourages me to fill a notebook that I can draw on all year long. During PiBoIdMo 2014, Tammi Sauer’s guest post challenged writers to frame a story as a How-To Book. So I jotted in my notebook: “How to make porcupine pie (or a pie for a porcupine)”. (Even at this early stage I thought that Porcupine Pie sounded a bit morbid!) My story never evolved into a How-To Book, but the alliterative title stuck with me and I ran with it!
Porcupine Pie is a beautifully illustrated by Jennie Poh. As an author, share your experience seeing your story come to life with her artwork.
The first time I experienced Porcupine outside of my own imagination was when the book cover was revealed. Porcupine looked different than what I had visualized, but after seeing her strutting through the woods in her little blue boots and carrying a pie, I couldn’t imagine her any other way. Creating a picture book is truly a collaboration. I love the color palette Jennie chose and Porcupine’s cozy den feels so inviting. The characters were friends in my text, but Jennie’s illustrations make those relationships warm and believable. I am very grateful to Jennie for bringing my characters to life.
From your bio, I read that you are a former third grade teacher. How did you make the transition from third grade teacher to published picture book writer?
When I taught third grade, my favorite part of the day was the read-aloud. I chose a variety of picture books as mentor texts for Reading and Writing Workshops, as supplements for Science, Social Studies, and Math units, and as a springboard for discussions on social topics, such as inclusion, bullying, and empathy. I witnessed the power of story to captivate, amuse, and encourage. Stories are powerful and I felt drawn to the creative process.
After I left teaching and had my children, I started to take my writing seriously. I joined SCBWI, attended conferences, sought out a critique group, and found online resources that supported my journey. But most importantly, I made writing a priority and started treating it as a part-time job. My advice to aspiring writers? The laundry can wait!
Besides writing, what are your other passions?
I’ve always loved to sing. I’ve been in a choir nearly every year since middle school. In fact, that’s how I met my husband: on the choir tour bus in college. I currently sing with my church choir. I belong to a book club and I enjoy hosting tea parties for that group. I also love to bake, which ties in nicely with Porcupine’s Pie since I created a pie recipe to include at the end of the book. My book club even got roped into a taste test!
Do you have any other writing projects planned in the future?
My next book is a picture book biography called Fred’s Big Feelings: The Life and Legacy of Mister Rogers. It is scheduled to release in Fall 2019, with Brigette Barrager illustrating.
Thank you so much Laura for stopping by Beagles and Books! There is still time to pre-order Porcupine’s Pie to receive a signed bookplate and be entered to win a pie kit. Preorder available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Indiebound, and Beaming Books.
Laura Renauld grew up in Vermont with a forest as her playground. While she never met a pie-baking porcupine, walks in the woods were always an adventure. When she is not enjoying nature with her husband and their two boys, Laura can be found reading, singing, and baking in Northern Virginia. This is her debut picture book.
Connect with me online at: laurarenauld.com and on social media:
Twitter – @laura_renauld
Facebook – @kidlitlaura
Instagram – @laurarenauld