I am happy this week to be interviewing torkidlit author, Frieda Wishinsky. While gathering info for this interview, I discovered that Frieda and I have a few things in common: we are both only children of European immigrants, we both didn’t do well in math, and neither one of us had planned on becoming a writer. Frieda grew up in New York City where she “attended Jewish school, played in the parks, and frequented the neighborhood candy store.” However I, on the other hand, did none of those things.
Meet Frieda Wishinsky.
Please introduce yourself to us.
I write picture books, chapter books, non-fiction and novels. I’ve been writing for over twenty years and have over forty books published all over the world. Some of my books have won awards, which is great but even better than that is coming up with a new idea for a story and meeting wonderful writing friends and readers.
What are your interests (besides writing)
I like to garden, travel, read, chat with friends over tea or coffee and eat chocolate.
Were you an avid reader as a child? If yes, what kinds of books did you enjoy reading?
I was a non-stop reader. I even read in the bathtub and still do. I liked fantasy, time-travel and historical fiction. Now I’m big on memoirs.
What was the inspiration for you to write your very first book? Did that book get published?
My kids inspired my firsts published book. It’s called OONGA BOONGA and is about a baby who won’t stop crying till her brother finds the magic nonsense words to cheer her up. It’s still in print. Published over twenty years ago.
Why do you write YA?
Those years are so scary, wonderful and life-changing. It’s a time when you start to get a sense of who you are.
Tell us about BLOB.
Blob is about a girl who gains weight one summer right before starting high school and is teased about it. It’s also about friendship and feeling comfortable with who you are. I think it’s funny too.
BLOB is loosely based on a set of your own experiences. Is there anything in particular that you’d like readers to come away with after reading the book?
I hope they’ll see how important a good sense of humor is to get you through the day and that no one can define you except you.
Is there a book that you’ve read that either helped you through a tough time in your life and/or helped shape your worldview?
There were many books that helped me get through tough times, although I can’t think of a particular title right now. I think we all read to help figure life out.
Do you think there is a need for greater issue-focused realistic fiction for teens?
I feel that the best way to make an “issue” meaningful is to tell a good story. It always starts with the story and also with engaging characters.
Are there any current/upcoming projects you can tell us about?
I have three new books to be published this fall. Two are fun picture books. One is an ABC/story book combo called WHERE ARE YOU BEAR (Owlkids) and the other is about what’s in the queen’s purse called THE QUEEN’S SECRET, (Scholastic). Book #15 in my Canadian Flyer series is also being published and it’s called MAKE IT FAIR. It deals with the women’s rights movement in Canada.
Projects I’m working on are another Canadian Flyer about the north and a book about explorers that has lots of information and humor. Those explorers were a little nuts!
Can you share a favorite quote with us?
“Anyone who has never made a mistake, has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule for this interview, Frieda!
To contact Frieda or to find out more about her and her books, she invites you to visit her website.
Update: I was just informed that Frieda’s book, BLOB, has just been nominated for an ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers! Congratulations, Frieda!