My interview with Debra Kempf Shumaker.


Check out my interview with the awesome Debra Kempf Shumaker.

How do you take your coffee?

Debra: I’ve recently switched to tea with just a touch of cream.

Burnt toast. Yum or yuck?

Debra: Yuck.

What made you smile recently?

Debra: My teens. They crack me up a lot.

Would you rather fly or be invisible?

Debra: Fly.

Ok, let’s talk about your non fiction picture book FREAKY, FUNKY FISH. What was your inspiration for this book?

Debra: This book is a product of a couple of things that came together. In spring 2018, after I had been focusing a lot on picture book biographies, I decided to switch gears and write something in rhyme again. (I had written a few stories in rhyme years earlier, but they never sold.) After reading fun, rhyming books on bugs, squirrels, water, etc. I started brainstorming for a topic and remembered a fiction picture book I wrote in 2013 about fish. While writing that book, I discovered that there were so many strange fish out there. Wa la! Idea born.

While you were researching, were there any fish facts that really surprised you?

Debra: Oh, so many surprised me! When I saw a video of the barreleye fish with its transparent head, I knew I wanted to work that into my book. Seriously, it’s one of the strangest and coolest things I have ever seen. Another surprise was that fish “sing”. My son had an aquarium of fish for a few years and we never heard them make noise, so this fascinated me. Fish don’t have vocal cords, so they obviously don’t sing like humans sing, but lots of fish make noises with various body parts — snapping tendons, vibrating muscles, gnashing teeth — to find mates, keep schools together, etc. When different species of fish make their barks, grunts, chirps, etc., together at dawn and dusk, it sounds a bit like a chorus of birdsong. There are some cool audio clips online and I listed one of those websites in the back matter of the book.

More of the interview in the photos below.

Hachette Book Group

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