I’ve been buzzing around our school campus lately—testing students, writing progress reports and attending into-the-evening parent-teacher conferences. Fortunately, I had time during one rainy-day recess to share a story with a group of enthusiastic second graders. I enlisted their help in interviewing the author, Lauri Fortino, about her book, The Peddler’s Bed. The story kept these cooped-up-on-a-rainy-day students in their seats and captivated by Bong Redila’s illustrations.
Welcome, Ms. Fortino! My students enjoyed your book and have a few questions for you.
Chloe: How long did it take you to write this book?
Lauri Fortino: It took about a day to write the story. But it took over a year for the illustrator to draw and paint all of the pictures. Then the publisher had to put everything together in the right order, make sure it looked perfect, and send it to the printing company to be made into a real book. From the time I wrote the story to when it became a book, it took almost two years!
Hunter: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
Lauri Fortino: The idea for this story mostly came from feeling grateful to family and friends for being generous and kind to me. But I’ll let you in on a secret—I also got the idea because my husband and my dog both snore. And sometimes their noses squeak while they’re sleeping!
The kids had a good laugh about those squeaky noses and they did an excellent job imitating the squeaks and snorts they hear in their own homes.
Kaylee: How many books have you made up?
Lauri Fortino: So far, I’ve written around forty-five stories, but they’re not all finished yet.
Karson: Do you have lots of ideas for other stories?
Lauri Fortino: I have ideas for over one hundred more books.
Andy: How do you get your ideas?
Lauri Fortino: Story ideas come to me in many ways. I get ideas from dreams. I wrote a dinosaur story based on a dream I had when I was a kid. I also get ideas for stories from places I visit and activities I do with family, friends, and my dog. Sometimes I get ideas from reading other books, or from observing people, animals, and nature.
Jose doesn’t have a question but he wanted me to tell you that he has a toy cart with a horse that looks just like the one in your book.
Lauri Fortino: That’s awesome! I love horses! I learned how to drive a horse and cart and it was so much fun!
Hannah: This is a nice book—are you famous?
Lauri Fortino: Thank you! No, I’m not famous. But maybe I will be someday.
Eric: How did you choose the illustrator? How did you know he would make good pictures?
Lauri Fortino: The publisher of my book chose the illustrator. He saw some pictures that Bong Redila had drawn and he liked them. He asked Bong if he’d like to illustrate the story and he said “yes.” I think he did an excellent job!
We think so too!
Keelan: When did you make your first book?
Lauri Fortino: I was about your age when I started writing stories. I made my own books out of paper I stapled together. Then I wrote the stories and drew the pictures inside.
Vanessa: Did you think of having the birdhouse on the cart or did the artist come up with that idea?
Lauri Fortino: That was the artist’s idea. I think it’s pretty neat! I like the round baskets too and how everything is so colorful. The trees are one of my favorite parts of the book.
Duke: How did you make such tiny words without messing up?
Lauri Fortino: Great question! The printing company printed all the words onto the pages of the book. Printing companies have machines that can print words and pictures in any size they want.
Arianna: How did you make the book?
Lauri Fortino: I had a lot of help making the book. First, I wrote the story. Then the illustrator drew and painted all of the pictures, including the ones on the front and back covers and on the jacket flaps. Then the publisher put everything together and sent the pages to the printer to be made into a real book. The printing company printed hundreds of copies to send to bookstores all over the country so that people could buy them.
Several students enjoyed the kind characters in the story and that made them want to know more about you – the author.
Johann: Do you like eating bananas?
Lauri Fortino: Yes! I enjoy eating bananas, especially in a banana split with three kinds of ice cream, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, and pineapple. Yum!
Lauri Fortino: Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite.
Alia: What is your favorite thing to do?
Lauri Fortino: My absolute favorite thing to do is write stories. I also love to spend time with my dog. His name is Java. He’s super smart. When I ask him to show me his belly, he’ll lie down and roll over on his back. I’ll send a picture to share with everyone.
Thank you for the picture – we think Java is adorable!
Marcos: Are you rich?
Lauri Fortino: No. It’s hard to get rich writing books. But it’s a lot of fun.
To wrap up our interview, do you have any advice for young writers?
Lauri Fortino: Use your imagination and write stories about people, places, and things that interest you. If you do that, you’ll always do your best writing. If you dream of one day becoming an author like me, your dream can come true.