Jessica Lawson
Buy on Amazon
Age Range - 8 - 12
Genre - Fiction


Today Jessica Lawson joins LitPick for Six Minutes with an Author! Jessica is the author of the middle grade books, The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher and the just released Nooks & Crannies! Jessica lives in Colorado with her family and sometimes sees bear damage to the trash bin at the end of her driveway and regularly sees a fox family trotting around the neighborhood.

How did you get started writing?

I was the kind of kid who kept journals during vacations as a girl and I always loved essay assignments in school, but it wasn’t until my oldest daughter was born that I really got my start. Staying home with her allowed me to start exploring the world of writing—something that I had always loved, but never considered to be a career possibility when I was younger. I soon got hooked and found myself researching the craft of creating stories. I began attending an annual conference to mingle and learn with other aspiring authors. It took several manuscripts, the support of critique partners, and lots of rejections before I landed a literary agent who helped me get a publishing contract with Simon & Schuster. My first book came out in July 2014, my second one came out June of this year, and I also have contracted books that are scheduled for release in 2016 and 2017. I feel very lucky and very grateful to be doing something I love.

Who influenced you?

Roald Dahl, Bill Peet, Eric Carle, Arnold Lobel, Judy Blume, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Sydney Taylor, and countless other authors and illustrators taught me to love the written word and embrace stories from an early age. But it wasn’t just the people who created the books: my parents, sisters, teachers, and librarians all played a role in influencing me back then, which carries over to the way I approach writing today. I read things handed to me by my parents and teachers and librarians, I devoured books that I snatched from my older sisters, and I learned that a story could transport me to new worlds. I learned that a character’s journey could inspire me to make decisions in my own life. Within the pages of books, I found friends.

I truly believe that every book I’ve been exposed to has influenced me in some way as an author. The early books my parents read me as a very young girl and the books I read as a middle grader (ages 8-12) were particularly impactful. Those are the periods in my life when my love of stories was solidified, so I’m absolutely thrilled to be writing for that audience today.

Do you have a favorite book/subject/character/setting?

I have about a hundred favorite books, but for the sake of this question, I’ll share a few that are dear to my heart: Roald Dahl’s Danny, The Champion of the World, Barbara Cooney & Rumer Godden’s The Story of Holly & Ivy, and Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows. I love anything with humor, heart, and a sense of adventure. The United Kingdom has always been a setting that’s captured me, partially because I grew up in a house where my father would travel there on business, but I love settings both foreign and familiar. I like to read about active, resourceful protagonists who face challenges with a loyal friend or two. Clever banter and an accent or unique voice will pull me into a story every time.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be an author?

Read lots of books. Write lots of words. Get yourself critique partners (people you trade stories/writing with) and learn to give and receive feedback. Be able to handle rejections when you get to the point of submitting your work, and never see those “nope, not for us” letters as failures—see them as stepping stones toward improvement.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My “office” is the kitchen table where my laptop sits, but my favorite place to write is actually with my head resting on my pillow. Right before bed, I find my mind usually finds its way to my characters, and being relaxed tends to shoot ideas into high productivity. I’ll muse for a bit and jot down key thoughts on a bedside notepad and drift to sleep happily, knowing that I’ve got a few places to start when I begin writing the next day.

What else would you like to tell us?

Pay attention to your passions and give yourself the time and freedom to get better at them. Don’t worry if you don’t seem to be a natural expert at something you love. If people tell you “you’re not good enough” at something you love to do, learn to add an internal yet to the end. Just because you may not have the skills you need to excel at an activity in the present, doesn’t mean that you won’t improve. With practice and dedication, you will improve, so dream big and try hard.

Jessica, thank you for joining LitPick for six minutes! Congratulations on the release of Nooks & Crannies!