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  • Writer's pictureMary Boone

Six Questions with Erin Dealey

Erin Dealey is a screenwriter, playwright, blogger, and award-winning children’s author of 20+ picture books (so far), including Just Flowers (Illus. Kate Cosgrove /Sleeping Bear), the award-winning Dear Earth… (Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe), and Peter Easter Frog (Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Illus. G. Brian Karas). Dealey's original career goal was Olympic Gold Medal tetherball player. When that didn't pan out, she became a teacher, theater director, actor, mom, and author--and welcomes any opportunity to visit schools around the world. She lives in northern California with her husband. Find her online at erindealey.com and on TwitterX @ErinDealey & Instagram @ErinDealey


1.       When did you first realize you wanted to write for young readers?

First of all, thank you for having me on your blog, Mary.  As for your question, I never thought I was a writer when I was growing up. I loved to draw and make up jokes and puns and play with words, but I didn’t think that was writing. It wasn’t until I was teaching high school theater and English, as well as reading to our young daughter, that the idea began to percolate in my brain.


2.       How did you begin your journey as an author?

A teacher friend and I decided to give writing children’s books a try. We each worked on our ideas and swapped pages. At the time, my manuscript was for a novel, and I felt guilty giving her all those pages while she gave me a picture book manuscript to read, so I decided to try a picture book. As a theater teacher, I had been writing many skits and plays for my students to perform and one day I had a sudden epiphany—picture books are like theater. There was no turning back!


3.       Where did you get the idea for Just Flowers? What was your inspiration?

Just Flowers was an idea that came to me after my book Dear Earth…From Your Friends in Room 5 (Illus. Luisa Uribe / Harper Collins) was released. I had some friends on Instagram who were posting gorgeous picks of different flowers in their gardens and some of the Latin names were fun to say. As I mentioned above, I LOVE word play, so those botanical words got me researching others… My main character IZZY, a budding Botanist, showed up at that point with a story to tell.


4.       Once you’ve created a first draft, what’s your next step? Critique group? Check in with your agent? Tuck it away to let it age?

My critique group, The PBJs (Picture Book Jammers), is always next, once I have a reasonable draft to share. Endless thanks to kidlit authors Patricia Newman, Lori Mortensen, and Bitsy Kemper, for their insights and feedback –and laughter and friendship.


5.       If you read Just Flowers to a room filled with kids, what message would you want them to leave with?

I’d love for them to become more curious about flowers and gardening. But more than that, I’d hope that they might be inspired by Izzy’s random acts of kindness, to pass some kindness on themselves. 


6.       Who should read this book?

I always say picture books are for ALL ages. And Just Flowers is for readers young and old who like word play, members of your community who deserve bouquets of thanks, gardeners and Botanists, and even people like me who don’t have a “green thumb.”


If you're a traditionally published middle-grade or picture book creator and you'd like to be featured on Six Questions, email mary@boonewrites.com. We have blog openings beginning in late 2024.


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