It was totally my lucky day! I was at a Choice Literacy Workshop last week and met someone who loved MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE STUART LITTLE as much as I did. She had loved it so much that she had found the author's email. She happily shared it with me and Peggy Gifford agreed to a blog interview. Since Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little is my most recent favorite children's book, this is great fun! (As you all remember, I made a call in my first post about Moxy to find the author and tell her to write more!) Well, read away and get the latest scoop on Moxy Maxwell and Peggy Gifford.
Franki: So many people love Moxy already. Is Moxy a character who was like you growing up or is she based on someone else in your life?
Peggy: When I was interviewed by Kirkus they asked the same question and my response was that Moxy is based on Everychild - of which I am one.
Franki: Tell us a bit about your childhood.
Peggy: I spent my summers (2nd through 5th grade) in the basement writing plays. When they were finished I would recruit reluctant adults and children to be in them. I was always the director and the star.
Franki: How did you decide to write about Moxy? Can you tell us a bit about the process?
Peggy: I was in a steam room taking a break from a long nonfiction piece I had been working on, when I noticed that I was noticing my toes. It occurred to me then that I had spent a fair amount of my childhood doing that very thing. What, I wondered, was I doing all those years looking at my toes and then I remembered that I was actually doing very little. As soon as I got home I wrote the first line of Moxy.
(I had tried writing a few times prior to that but now I see that my mistake was in trying to 'sound' like a children's story rather than telling the story I knew in a voice that was most natural for me.)
Franki: The photos in the book add so much and are such fun! How closely were you able to work with the illustrator/photographer on those? How did that piece come to be part of the book?
Peggy: As I was writing, Mark kept creeping in there with his camera taking photographs and I kept writing captions for them, the entire time thinking well, if an editor does like this book, they no doubt will want to cut them. (I thought this because I had never seen fiction illustrated in that way.) When Anne Schwartz and Lee Wade decided not only to keep them but to hire the extraordinary Valorie Fisher to take the pictures as well, I was truly shocked....utterly pleased.
Franki: We are SOOOO happy that there are more books about Moxy Maxwell coming out soon. Can you tell us a bit about the next books in the series.
Peggy: MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE TO WRITE THANK-YOU NOTES is coming out next May and after that, MOXY MAXWELL DOES NOT LOVE TO PRACTICE THE PIANO.
Franki: Will all of the Moxy books have photos?
Peggy: I've just seen the photographs from the Thank You Note Moxy and they are SO FUNNY.
Franki: What kinds of books do you like to read in your free time? What kinds of books did you read as a child?
Peggy: As a child, I was a very eclectic reader picking up this and that.... among the most memorable: Eloise; THE LITTLE LAMB ON WHEELS; A Wrinkle In Time and Don Quixote, which was read to us by my sixth grade teacher over the course of the year. It (subconsciously) introduced me to the wide range of narrative voices; subject-matter and irony that are possible in fiction.
Currently I am staring at the face-down, spine-broken, two-thirds read GRAPES OF WRATH. There is nothing like The Grapes of Wrath to give you a little perspective.
Franki: Do you have a web site where people can learn more about you and your books?
Peggy: My web site will be up by the first of September. Perhaps you would be kind enough to post the address for me when I have it?
Franki: We would love to--can't wait!