This is the next installment of a series of interviews I will be doing with Michigan authors. We have a very interesting and diverse bunch of writers in this state who represent a wide swath of genre’s. For the last interview this month I would like to introduce you to Jeffrey Schoenherr who is a children’s book author and writer of the Lillie series.
Jeff thanks for taking part in this interview for my Michigan writers series. First, take a moment and tell my readers a little bit about you.
“I was raised on a farm in White Cloud, Michigan. I came from a family of 8, so you know the fun never stops. I live in Clinton Township, Michigan now. I have 2 children both in college. I have 3 Lillie books out now and a fourth on the way.”
- Jeff, you are my very first children’s book author that I’ve had on Journeys and Life. What made you decided to become a children’s author?
“Growing up on a farm you experience many different aspects of life. I had a lot of great memories that I felt needed to be shared. It really made the writing easy.”
- Lillie Saves the Day was your first children’s story. What was the inspiration for this story?
“My mother really was and is the inspiration for all of my Lillie books. Her name was Lillian. She was a very kind woman and shared the value of treating people and animals with love and care. We had a baby piglet that wasn’t going to make it. My mom brought it in the house and started feeding it with an eyedropper. Pretty soon we had a 8-pound pig in the kitchen. He thought that my mom was his mom as well”
- Tell us about your young heroine Lillie?
“Lillie is a very caring young girl. She puts her heart and soul into her animals on the farm. She enjoys the farm and loves her animals”
- How long have you been writing for Jeff?
“I have been writing pretty much all my life but within the last 6 years decided to put my words and stories to good use. I really hope to use the stories to help children to read and become better people”
- You published through Tate publishing. What made you choose them?
“I wasn’t having much luck getting published. Most places prefer you have a few books out. I spoke to a wonderful person from Tate publishing. She seemed to know what I wanted to do with my books. Tate publishing helped me to make a dream a reality. They have been very helpful with all the books that I have sent them”
- What is the hardest thing you find about being a children’s book author?
“I think that it’s just getting yourself and your books out to the people. I am always asking how the children like the books. I ask adults as well. I want the books to have the same meaning to a child as the memory has to me. I hope that the books make a difference”
- Do you do your illustrations yourself or does your publisher handle that? Also, how much influence do you have on the cover design and illustrations?
“I wish that I was that talented. I have my publisher do the Illustrations. They are based off of a friend of mine. She had drawn the original Lillie. She really knew what I wanted with the character. Tate has done a great job of sticking to the vision. I still have the final say so in all cover designs and Illustrations. We work well together. They are always on board with any changes that need to be done”
- Your third book Lillie and Hamlet Meet their Special Friends came out just last month. How long did it take you to write this latest book in the Lillie series?
“I wrote Lillie and Hamlet meet their special friends in about a week. It still took quite a while to get the book the way I wanted it. It again was based on a real event and real animals that we had on the farm. I had the idea for quite a long time and had written bits and pieces of it. This book had a lot of meaning to me. I wanted children to understand that when things are different, that makes them special.”
- Being a children’s book author depends a lot on getting your book in front of kids and their parents how are you going about that? What kinds of walls are you coming up against?
“You really have to promote yourself and your books. I have gone to schools and talked to the kids. I have done quite a few author events. Author palooza was one event I had just done. The library events and book signings are fun. The challenge is making time to get out and have people hear about your books. The elementary schools had been receptive to my books. I learned that walls can be scaled and I know that I am the best person to talk about my books.”
- There could be a lot of authors out there who are considering writing a children’s book or already are but struggling. Do you have any advice for them?
“My advice is not to give up. Finding people that will take a chance on you and your writing can be quite tough. I had literally shelved a few stories for that reason. I had to learn the lesson of not giving up. The books almost called to me to keep trying. The feeling when they are ready to read is awesome. I was glad that I didn’t forget about those books . I just submitted my fourth book and I am working on the fifth. It’s a great feeling”
- What books are you reading right now for fun?
“I have read a few fantasy stories written by J.R Roper. An author friend of mine. Also William Shatner’s new book. Also a book of poems by Leonard Nimoy. These guys’ make me want to expand my writings to different Genre”
You can follow Jeff on Twitter @