My first author interview of 2022 is Haven Iverson, who I met last fall at a book launch at The Wandering Jellyfish Bookstore (featured on the blog in November) and on the same day we had an SCBWI outdoor event where we really had a chance to connect and discover how much we have in common. We’ve been in touch several times since, including a hike with our dogs. Her recently released book, SLOW DOWN, TUMBLEWEED! illustrated by Rob Sayegh Jr. is a wonderful book with the lovely message we all need to hear: slow down, pause, take a breath, admire the beauty around you. Since meeting Haven, I have noticed tumbleweeds along our two favorite trails and even found the one in the photo below. Haven embodies the message of mindfulness, and spending time with her or even a quick phone call makes me feel more relaxed, which in the current stress of life is exactly what I need.
Haven is generously offering one lucky winner a copy of SLOW DOWN, TUMBLEWEED! and a stack of bookmarks. Comment on this post to enter the giveaway.
What were you like at the age of your target audience?
I’m an only child–but I definitely didn’t grow up feeling alone. From an early age the made-up voices and personalities of my stuffed animals kept me company. I spent a lot of time in my room, and I used to record my conversations with my animals with an old cassette recorder while enjoying listening to my country and western record collection. Favorites included Dolly Parton, Crystal Gayle, Juice Newton and Eddie Rabbit. I grew up in super urban areas–New York City and Houston, Texas–but my favorite place as a child was the Adirondack Mountains in New York state, where my grandparents had a house on a lake I felt pretty fearless in the woods by myself–and the woods there, which was so soft and green and mossy and filled with wild mushrooms, made me feel like I was in a fairy tale.
What inspires you?
I feel like I am chronically inspired–and my biggest challenge is on how to stay focused on one inspiration/ one thing. Everything inspires me–my children, podcasts, books, music, painting, the natural world, people watching, strange conversations you overhear when out and about. But here’s one thing: I like to read the paper in search of weird news. Sometimes a headline or a detail about someone’s wild life in an obituary will inspire an idea.
What do you hope readers take away from your book?
SLOW DOWN, TUMBLEWEED! is, ultimately, about the tremendous adventures one can go on by just being still. Experiences can be pretty grand by just diving in deep into what is right in front of you. I am very much like the little wild child tumbleweed in my book. I am constantly inspired, always curious, often on the go, and I have my hands in 20 things at once. And as an outdoorswoman, I tend to explore terrain for miles and miles, without stopping to “sniff the flowers.” Over the past few years, I’ve discovered the beauty of slowing down, of doing one thing at a time, and taking my time with the things I enjoy. And of course you can have a wonderful adventure by just being still–which is what Mabel the tumbleweed discovers in the book.
What’s next for you?
Right now I am still figuring out the dance between working full-time as Editorial Director of Sounds True, where I acquire and edit adult titles in health and wellness, psychology, mindfulness, and more, and my writing life. Now that my kids are teenagers, time is beginning to open up a bit. I’m currently in revision/polish mode with a few picture book manuscripts, one of which is inspired by the cute background pig that appears on page 19 and 29 of SLOW DOWN, TUMBLEWEED!. And I just started my first middle grade novel, which I am having so much fun with. I am trying to keep writing without doubling back and editing myself too much. And last, I am just finishing up events and promotion for SLOW DOWN, TUMBLEWEED! I have one event left, which is a reading at the fabulous children’s bookstore The Wandering Jellyfish in Niwot, Colorado, planning for a date as soon as Covid allows. I got my MFA in fiction as a Michener Fellow at the University of Texas, Austin about 20 years ago and I thought I wanted to write for adults. But writing for kids is where it’s at for me. Children are the BEST audience. They are engaged, curious, and they ask the best questions! In fact, because of their questions while doing events for the book, my fascination with tumbleweeds only grew.
To find out more about Haven’s books and connect with her:
Instagram: @havenivy. Twitter: @HavenIverson