Rising Stars continues in 2021! Hooray! The goal of this series is to highlight my fellow kidlit creators who are working their tails off to birth their beautiful book babies into the world. These interviews will cast a light on the wonderful work of these pre-published authors and author-illustrators who are destined to be stars!
Meet Rising Star
Author Andrew Hacket!
AH: I am so thrilled to be represented by Dan Cramer of Flannery Literary. After a short stint in the query trenches I happened upon a query critique giveaway that Dan was offering on Twitter. I was thrilled to receive positive feedback from Dan on my query and even more excited that he expressed an interest in my story and encouraged me to send it his way. As quick as I could, I shipped it off and before I knew it we were setting up the call. It was quite the whirlwind!
AD: That’s amazing, Andrew! Quite the whirlwind is right!! Congratulations to you and Dan. It sounds like a great match and a good reminder to take advantage of opportunities such as contests, and giveaways. You never know what they may lead to. Best of luck as you begin this new phase in your journey. Alright, let’s dive into some questions to get to know more about you and your work. As a fellow nature-lover, I also can’t wait to share your beautiful and inspiring nature photography with readers.
Let’s start with a speed round…
- Top three favorite children’s books of all time? COULD BE WORSE! by James Stevenson is a childhood favorite. Then I have to say anything by Chris Van Allsburg. If I had to choose I’d go with THE SWEETEST FIG, but quite honestly I love them all. They are the perfect picture books for older readers, and I love using them in my classroom. Our newest family favorite is ESCARGOT written by Dashka Slater and illustrated by Sydney Hanson. My kids quote this book constantly and my 4 year old zooms through the house saying he is “like the wind itself.” Such a fun read!
- Coffee, tea (or neither)? Neither…can I actually be considered a writer?
- Where is your safe place? Out in the woods.
- Dogs, cats, (or neither)? Dogs.
- Early bird or night owl? Night owl by nature trying to reform myself into an early bird.
- Three words to describe what it takes to make it in the kidlit world…perseverance, community, and courage.
AD: Okay, now down to the series stuff…please dish us the dirt on who you are and your journey into the fabulous world of children’s books.
AH: I have always had an interest in writing children’s books and dabbled off and on for years, but never committed the time or effort necessary to have it become anything more than just a dream. This past summer was when I finally decided to give it a serious go. I signed up for SCBWI, joined critique groups, entered the world of Twitter and most importantly, began writing.
AD: Inspiring that you chose to make your dream a reality. Sounds like you are well on your way!
AD: Did you always know you wanted to be an author? Have you explored other paths or had/have other jobs?
AH: I can not say that I am one of those people who always knew I wanted to be a writer or that I grew up with a passion for writing. I didn’t. I always liked the idea of being an author, but never really knew what that entailed or how to begin.
What I have always had is a passion for working with children, which is why I have been a second-grade teacher for the last 16 years. Working with children is incredible and the relationships I build with my students are something I truly enjoy. I love the creativity I get to infuse into my classroom and the ability to observe my students loving learning.
AD: Thank you for your dedication to teaching. As a fellow educator myself, I can truly relate to the joy that can be found in the relationships we build with our students. It’s pretty special! 🙂
AD: What topics or themes do you tend to focus on in your writing? Favorite genres you like to write in?
AH: Fiction picture books all the way! I have discovered two sides of my writing personality. On the one side, I love to write light-hearted stories filled with wordplay. But I have also come to find an ease with lyrical and emotional realistic fiction stories.
AD: Breaking into the publishing industry is not easy! What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced thus far? What have you done to persevere?
AH: The biggest challenge for me was having the self-confidence that this could be more than just a dream. I needed to give myself permission to believe it could be real and permission to be vulnerable and open. After I did that was when the dots began to connect.
AD: Yes! Giving ourselves permission is key. I’m glad you had the courage to do so and are moving forward on your path to getting published!
AD: As creators (and humans), we tend to focus on the flaws of our creations or areas for improvement. This helps us grow and develop, but we need not forget the many things we are doing well. With this in mind, what has been your biggest accomplishment or something you are most proud of thus far on your writing journey?
AH: I am incredibly proud of the relationships I have built with the kidlit community. In the real world I am shy and anxious in new situations, and I certainly do not put myself out there. I am so grateful for the friendships I have made. I have grown significantly as a writer as a result. If not for my writing friends this journey would have been a much lonelier one and way less fun.
AD: Totally! This community rocks! Without the support of others who truly understand the ups and downs of the industry, I think I would be lost at sea. As you said, everyone is so welcoming and knowledgable. It is a refreshing!
AD: In a similar vein, what do you feel are your strengths as an author? What makes your writing unique to you?
AH: At the moment my writing is leaning towards tough subjects such as loss, grief, and divorce. I aim to handle these topics with a gentle touch while also embracing the emotions of the situation. These stories are lyrical and hopefully within them children and parents will find a touch of comfort.
AD: Thank you for writing these stories, Andrew. I think it’s so important for children to have stories that reflect these difficult topics as they are a part of life. We can’t shy away. Your stories will make a difference and allow both children and adults to help process.
AD: What inspires your work?
AH: My kids and the kids I am surrounded by in my career are a constant source of ideas and inspiration. My playful stories often come from bits of phrases I overhear in the classroom or on the playground that I mix and match until the story finds me. My more emotional pieces, while not autobiographical, tend to have a component that is pulled directly from my memory bank.
AD: Tell us about your creative process and what you do to keep ideas flowing or what you do when feeling stuck?
AH: I carry a journal with me constantly, except for when I forget, but Notes on my phone will do. My creative process involves a lot of staring blankly and incessant rereading of lines written. I like to doodle and outline before writing, filling my brain with loads of possibilities. Then I often begin drafting without ever looking back at my notes, letting the character lead the way.
AD: Oooo I like that…”let the character lead the way”. Nice!
I also tend to write in spurts. When inspiration strikes I throw everything else aside and dive in. Then other times, when those ideas are nowhere to be found, I find I have to stop trying. At these times I try to get out into nature and wait for inspiration to strike when it is ready.
AD: What sorts of things have been most integral in your growth as an author?AH: Twitter, while stealing away precious writing time, has also been the place where I found my people and became part of the writing community. The amazing people I have met and their endless support as CPs has been critical to my growth. I love critiquing others’ stories, and I find I learn so much just by being exposed to the various styles, themes and techniques each author uses. Also, contests like Fall Writing Frenzy and Halloweensie have pushed me to write outside of my comfort zone and revealed facets of my skill set I didn’t know I had.
AD: Yes! I completely agree. Twitter is a great networking tool. It sounds like pushing yourself outside your comfort zone has led to growth in your craft. Walk towards that discomfort!! 🙂
AD: What advice do you have for fellow kidlit creatives?
AH: Be open to the possibilities. Sometimes we have a pre prescribed plan of how and when we want to accomplish our goals. Be open to new opportunities, new paths, new people. Be open to taking the risk on yourself, even when the outcome seems destined to be a “no”. And also, find your people. These are the ones with whom you will commiserate with if rejections come your way and who will cheer the loudest for you when you find success.
AD: I couldn’t have said it better! Thanks for the knowledge bomb, Andrew!!