Interview with Pat Zietlow Miller


I got to speak with the one of the most talented people in the kidlit community…Pat Zietlow Miller. Read on to find out what motivates her, what her blog recommendations are, and all about her beautiful new book WHEN I’M WITH YOU.

What motivates you?

I like seeing what I can create. I’ve had jobs in the past where I wasn’t producing a tangible item, and I was never as happy. 

I like being able to point at something someone can hold and saying, “I helped make that.” And, books are some of the best things to hold.

I’m also motivated by the hope people will read my books and find something hopeful, helpful or entertaining in them.

What does happiness mean to you?

To me, happiness is liking and trusting yourself and the people around you and working toward goals that excite you. If those goals bring positive energy to the world, that’s even better.

What podcasts or blogs do you recommend?

I don’t listen to a ton of podcasts, but Kevin Johnson has a periodic podcast called Captain Create that included an amazing interview with Dan Santat. And, literary agent Jennifer Laughran has an informative and funny podcast called Literaticast

I’m also part of a blog called Picture Book Builders with several other picture book creators. We take turns posting about picture books we love. 

What do you love most about being a writer?

I love the challenge of telling a full story in a short format. Fitting all the elements together in a way that is engaging and fulfilling and complete is so satisfying. 

I also love using language in just the right way to make readers think and feel and wonder and – just for a moment – step into another world.

If you could describe this book in three words, what would they be?

1. Happy. (Illustrator Eliza Wheeler described it as “the happiest book ever.”)

2. Friend-filled. 

3. Hopeful.

This book is a tribute to the important people in our lives. What important people in your life would you gift this book to?

I’d give it to my twin sister, Pam, because I’ve been “with her” longer than anyone else in my life. And, like the friends in this book, she gets me and supports me. For me, having a twin is like having a built-in best friend. We don’t live close by as adults, but as I wrote in the book:

We might live close together or be many miles apart.

But I’ll find a way to keep you in my head and in my heart.

The illustrations are done by the wonderful Eliza Wheeler. Can you talk about what it’s like to work with her and what a good writer illustrator relationship should look like?

Eliza and I have worked together to create three books – WHEREVER YOU GOWHEN YOU ARE BRAVE and WHEN I’M WITH YOU. We’ve become friends, and I not only trust her implicitly, I also have so much respect for her talent. Eliza’s art has so much to see and explore. Every time I look at it, I notice new elements.

Despite our friendship, when Eliza’s illustrating a text I wrote, I don’t see what she’s doing. We keep our work separate until it needs to come together. And, when that time rolls around, I’m always so excited to see what she’s created. 

I get asked a lot about how authors and illustrators work together to make a picture book. So, I made a video talking about who does what, when and why.

Is there anything else you’d like to share about your book?

While this is a picture book for kids, WHEN I’M WITH YOU is, I think, a great example of how picture books are really for people of all ages. This is a book for anyone to give to the special people in their lives no matter how old they are.

It’s a book for parents, children, family, friends and people you love platonically or romantically. I think this book could be read at weddings. I think people should PROPOSE using this book. (And, if you do, please, please let me know!)

2 thoughts on “Interview with Pat Zietlow Miller”

  1. “…happiness is liking and trusting yourself and the people around you”–
    Love this.
    Thank you for interviewing Pat Zietlow Miller. Good post, Jenny.


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