Friday, February 25, 2011

Interview with children's author Maggie Grinnell

Today, my guest is children's author Maggie Grinnell.  Ms.Grinnell is here to discuss her latest fun book for children, The Ketchup Bottle and the Takeover. 

1. Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.

I started writing back in college in 1985. I wrote my first short story but then tore it up because I didn’t think it was that good. I didn’t write again until 1992 when I was encouraged to start writing again. So in 2005, I revised that same story I tore up years earlier and had it published. I first decided to write to impress my dad who had high standards for his kids to succeed. But I start writing for me in 1992 when I realized how much I enjoyed telling a story.

2. Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?

In my heart, I am a full time writer. But in reality, I am a part time writer. I don’t really have an organized time to write. I really write when I can which is mostly at nights in my room, very late.

3. What influences your writing?

When I go into bookstores, I get inspired just by the atmosphere of the place. Books, magazines and eager readers are enough to inspire this writer to write. Talking to other writers and even when someone cuts down my writing, I am inspired to write.

4. Is this your first published work? What other types of writing have you done?

This is my 1st published children’s book but not my 1st published work. My first published work was in 1996, a short story. I have written articles (which I still currently do), poetry and short suspense stories.

5. Why did you choose to write a children's story?

I have always read in magazines for writers to find their ‘voice.’ Well one day a voice told me to listen to my ‘inner’ child which I did and started writing for children. I started out slowly by writing a poem about a childhood doll I use to have. So now I think I have found my ‘voice.’

6. What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?

I have an agent who suggested submitting my story to a published company she is an illustrator for. I did and it was accepted for publication. I had the story edited then it was sent to an illustrator. The 1st illustrator after awhile had to turn the project to another illustrator due to commitment issues. The 2nd illustrator took awhile before emailing me sketches of the first illustrations. When I saw the sketches, I wasn’t impressed. So my agent stepped in and was my 3rd and final illustrator. I finished the book 3 years after submitting it for publication.

7. What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?

I don’t really have any thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing. Since I haven’t tried both, I can’t say which is best or have an opinion yet.

8. What is your marketing strategy?

I made postcards from the image of the cover of my book and sent them to everyone I know. Then I made business cards with my information and the cover of the book on it. I wrote all my writer friends and put my card inside to let them know my book came out. I also had a book launch party. I had the local bakery make a cake with the cover image of my book. I have also contacted local bookstores and brought in copies of my book for them to sell. I am still getting the word out.

9. What are your thoughts about children's writers needing an agent or not needing one?

I think it would help for children’s writers to have agents because this genre is very hard to be heard in. Their agent can help by contacting publishing companies and really promote their writing. But then again there are children’s writers who are successful without an agent.

10. Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I have a website On my website, I have samples of my work such as poetry, short stories and links to my book and to where I write my articles.

11. Do you have any tips for writers who are new to children's literature?

I would say to study the field and do research. Find out what the new trends are and which authors are catching children’s eyes.

12. Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

My book The Ketchup Bottle and the Takeover is about Tommy Tomato, an oversized ketchup bottle with an ego who tries to take over the refrigerator. When the others inside the refrigerator find out what he wants to do, they try to get ride of Tommy. But one day during a picnic, Tommy disappears. Suddenly everyone wants Tommy back and Tommy wants to come back. The book can be purchased through a link on my website. Go to, and then go to the left side of website. Click on ‘new book’, and then click on the link under the cover of the book. That link will take you to where the book can be purchased.


  1. What an interesting idea for a book for children. I bet young readers are rooting for Tommy Tomato's return, as well as the other inhabitants of the refrigerator. Congrats on your book. Best of luck to you.

    Very nice interview, Penny, as always.

  2. Nice interview, Maggie and Penny.

    It was a long, but eventually gratifying journey.

    Aidana WillowRaven
    ~illustrator/cover artist/designer

  3. Beverly, thanks for stopping by and commenting. Glad you enjoyed the interview.

  4. Aidana, I haven't seen the book yet, but I'm sure your illustrations are wonderful and add much to the story.

  5. Maggie, your book sounds wonderful. I'm sure kids will love it.

    Hey, Aidana is the illustrator for my book with 4RV Publishing!

  6. Karen, glad you could stop by and lucky you to have Aidana as your illustrator!