Friday, July 24, 2009
Interview With Local Authors: Penny Warner
How long have you lived in the Bay Area? Which parts?
I grew up in the Bay Area. I was born in Okinawa, then moved to Palo Alto until third grade. Moved to Lafayette and lived there until I got married. We moved to Danville, where Tom grew up. He graduated from San Ramon High.
When did you get your first book published?
My first book was HEALTHY SNACKS FOR KIDS. I sold it in 1987 and it has sold over 200,000 copies. Still in print today. After the success of that book, I wrote two sequels - SUPER SNACKS FOR KIDS and HEALTHY TREATS FOR KIDS.
What type of books do you write?
After the snack books, I began writing parenting and child development type books, such as SUPER TOYS and HAPPY BIRTHDAY PARTIES, etc. About the time my kids became teenagers, I started thinking about murder........and wrote my first murder mystery.
Why do you write?
I enjoy the creative outlet, entertaining readers, and helping parents enjoy their babies and children. I also like setting my own hours and being somewhat my own boss.
How involved are you with the community?
I've been teaching at Diablo Valley College - child development - for the past 30 years so that keeps me in touch with young people. I do a lot of speaking at groups, such as AAUW, Soroptomists, Women's Clubs, Scouts, etc. Plus I write a column for the Times and Herald that often features people or activities in the community.
What challenges have you faced as an author?
Getting published is always a challenge. No matter how many books I've had published -- over fifty to date -- I still have to "sell" the next one, with a proposal, marketing plan, etc. Ideas, however, are easy to come by, and I don't usually have "writer's block." If I'm stuck, I just sit down and try to write something.
Who were some your influences as a writer?
As a kid, I read a lot of mysteries and adventures -- Nancy Drew, Sherlock Holmes, Edgar Allen Poe, Robinson Crusoe, James Bond. Later I read a lot of fiction by women about women, including mysteries featuring strong female protagonists, such as Sue Grafton, Janet Evanovich, etc.
What types of books would you recommend for young readers?
All types of books, but especially Nancy Drew, Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, and so many of the contemporary juvenile and YA writers.
What do you think is the best way to get young people excited to read?
Give them a good story with lots of action, believable characters, and push the envelope a little, with contemporary issues. Make the stories fun and exciting to read.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
Aside from the ones mentioned above, I have lots of favorites -- David Sedaris, Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, Dan Brown, Harlan Coben, Nora Ephron, off the top of my head.
What are some of your favorite books?
The French Lieutenant's Woman, The DaVinci Code, Shutter Island, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein (by Mary Shelley) - so many more. I love humor (ie Why Cats Paint), biographies (ie Marie Curie), how tos (iPhone apps), etc.
Do you have a website we can visit?
My website and blog are at www.pennywarner.com.
Where can we find your books?
All of my books are available through Amazon, or you can try your local bookstore or the publishers. My latest book, THE OFFICIAL NANCY DREW HANDBOOK, is from Quirk. ROCK-A-BYE BABY is from Chronicle Books. LADIES' NIGHT is from Adams Media. I have a new mystery series coming out in February called HOW TO HOST A KILLER PARTY, from Penguin, and a picture book for parents and babies called BABY'S FAVORITE RHYMES TO SIGN, from Random House that features nursery rhymes in sign language, due out next summer.