Dori Hillestad Butler is the author of over twenty picture and chapter books. Her new series, The Buddy Files, follows the adventures of a mystery-solving dog. Dori, thank you so much for visiting The Writing Cave.
I love the premise of your new series. Does your real life dog, Mouse, have hidden abilities?
Thank you…yes, my real life dog definitely has hidden abilities. In fact, I think he might be a superhero in disguise.
What’s it like to have three books coming out at one time? Was the process different than with your previous books?
It’s exciting! And yes, the process was different with these books than it’s been with previous books. We’ve had very short lead time on these books, so I’ve worked much closer with my editor. We worked on all three books at the same time. I was reading page proofs of book 1 at the same time I was revising book 2 and writing the first draft of book 3. I actually liked working this way because I was able to go back and plant things in earlier books.
How does your writing process usually work?
I turn in a detailed outline. There’s some back and forth on the outline with my editor. This is the stage where we might make big structural changes to the story. Then I write the first draft. If there’s time, I give it to my critique groups (I have two); if not, I turn it in with a note that says, “you realize this is a FIRST draft, right? That means I still get to make lots of changes.” Then I go through and mark things I want to look at again, but I don’t actually make the changes yet at this point. Not until I hear from my editor. Once I get comments from my editor, the real work begins. I LOVE revision…revision is much easier for me than facing the blank screen. In fact, I love revision so much I never want to stop revising. I drive my editor a little bit crazy because I always want to make “just five more changes.”
I can certainly relate to that taunting blank screen! What things do you do to promote your books?
I do signings and school visits. I blog (though not as regularly as I used to). I’m going to be working with my publisher to start an e-newsletter about Buddy. Basically I do whatever my publisher asks me to do. Promotion is not one of my strengths…but I know I can’t expect my publisher to do everything, so I’m trying to be better.
Looking back on 2009, what were your three favorite reads last year?
I started reading Kathryn Stockett’s The Help in 2009, so I think I can list that, even though I finished it in 2010. That was one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. The voices were incredible. It was hard to believe I was reading fiction. And I’m pretty sure I read Savvy by Ingrid Law in 2009. That was my favorite children’s book from last year. I’m not sure I can choose just one more, so I’ll choose three: Paper Towns by John Green, Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko and When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
I loved Savvy :) Do you own an electronic reader? Do you have an opinion on ebooks?
I do! I never thought I wanted one…I’m one of those people who likes the feel and smell of a physical book. But my husband and older son love their Kindles. And they bought me one for Mother’s Day last year. I liked it a lot better than I expected to. I like having access to so many books at once, I like being able to change the size of the type, I like being able to take notes on what I’m reading (I never wrote in my books), and it’s much easier to prop up my Kindle and read while I’m on the exercise bike or treadmill or while I’m eating my lunch than it is to prop up an actual book.
If I was buying an e-reader today, though, I don’t think I’d get the Kindle. I’d get the Nook. Our library has e-books that you can check out…but it doesn’t work with Kindle.
That’s a great Mother’s Day gift! Kudos to your family. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Never give up!
What are you working on next?
The next Buddy Files book.
I’m a cheese freak, so I have to ask: what’s your favorite cheese and why?
You’re a woman after my own heart! I love cheese, too. When I’m in an Italian restaurant, I’d rather the waiter just let me grate my own cheese…they either stop before I say okay or the amount of time it takes for them to grate as much cheese as I’d actually like gets uncomfortable for both of us.
Once again, I don’t think I can name just one favorite. I like fresh cheese curds that squeak, fresh mozzarella balls, smoked cheddar, brie…anything except blue cheese.
Maybe there’s a portable cheese grater that can travel in purses for such occasions :) Thanks so much, Dori. Learn more about Dori Hillestad Butler on her website and blog and be sure to check out The Buddy Files for lots of mystery-solving doggie fun!