Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read., Pat! Wow! Wherever You Go is stunning! Stunning, I say! I’ve read it multiple times. Each time I find something new in Eliza Wheeler’s gorgeous illustrations. How did you react the first time you saw the finished artwork?
Pat Zieltow Miller: I had two reactions. The first, which was very fleeting, was: “The main character is a rabbit?” I had pictured the book with people, so the animals initially were a bit of a surprise.
But seconds later, I was blown away by the gorgeous art and the beautiful colors and Eliza’s amazing use of details and light. I looked at the proofs again and again, and like you, I saw some new detail each time. Now, I can’t imagine the book being any other way.
I’m proud of my writing, but Eliza’s art makes the book. And she’s exceptionally nice as well as exceptionally talented.
What planted the seed for Wherever You Go?
PZM: At first, a few lines about roads came to me out of the blue, and I scribbled them down. Then, I started thinking about roads being a metaphor for life and all the things I wanted my teenage daughter to know as she headed out into the world. The manuscript evolved from there.
What I like is that you can read it on two levels – a book about travel and roads and the joy of the journey or a book about living life well.
How did you celebrate Wherever You Go’s book birthday on April 21?
PZM: I’m probably in the minority, but I find book release dates stressful. Your book – which you and so many other people have poured their hearts into – is out in the world on its own being bought, or not. And that worries me. But, many, many people were kind enough to tweet about it and post pictures, and that was lots of fun to see.
When I sat down to write these interview questions, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was, “Oh! Pat and Billy Miller live in the same town. Wouldn’t that be cool if they ran into each other at the grocery store? I wonder if Pat eats at Ruby’s Cupboard.” That wouldn’t be a peculiar thought if Billy Miller were a real person, and I realize that Ruby’s Cupboard is really Ella’s Deli. :)
PZM: Please share three spots I should visit the next time I’m in Madison, Wisconsin.
- The University of Wisconsin’s Memorial Union Terrace. You can sit on a beautiful patio overlooking Lake Mendota. (Fun fact: Union Terrace is famous for its distinctive and colorful metal chairs. Those chairs are depicted in All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon and Marla Frazee.)
- Mickie’s Dairy Bar. For the best breakfast ever in a charming, throwback setting. (If you come, I’ll even treat.)
- The Children’s Cooperative Book Center. A research and study library dedicated to books for children and young adults. It’s on the University of Wisconsin campus, and its staff members are among the best-informed, most- passionate kidlit people you could hope to meet. And you can just walk in and browse and talk to them.
Oh, and I love Ella’s Deli. It has the best chocolate, sour-cream cake around. And, I haven’t met Billy Miller. But I have met Kevin Henkes. It was at a Children’s Cooperative Book Center event. He’s very nice and very gracious. After meeting him, I smiled for the next 24 hours. Ahhh …
Please finish these sentence starters:
Reading is restorative.
Sharing the Bread: An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving Story and Sophie’s Squash are about family love. And, they’re both published by Schwartz & Wade, which pulled my first manuscript out of the slush pile and gave me a chance.
Picture books are perfection in 32 pages.
Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my first paid writing gig. When I was in high school, I covered American Legion baseball doubleheaders for the local newspaper and got paid $10 a story. I was so excited to get a byline, I would have done it for free.
Borrow Wherever You Go from your school or public library. Whenever possible, please support independent bookshops.