Additional (poetical) Interview Bio:
Let me introduce to you
Sheree the formidably word happy Fitch: Maker of sense through nonsense
Believer in children and the positively transformative powers of silliness
Inspirer of all those who do not fit the “normal” mode
A writer of lipslippery sensorability,
Sheree has gained recognition for all those things too many folks take for granted
words and Poetry, children and Literature, dedication and Craft…
Let me introduce to you
a national poetic treasure
she can talk mighty Quick
and rhyme in a Flick
she’s written books galore
and performed them even more
an Advocate of literacy
a reading Activist—hear her Roar!
an Alumna with a multimedia Masters of literature
oh, HA HA HE!
She writes synaesthetic symphonies for the mind’s ear
and for playful and perspicacious poetic performers: long live polyphony!
Q. 1: General
Could you talk a bit about how and when you came to writing, what your process is, and the role it has played in your life? What drew you to the various audiences you write for and the characters you’ve created? Do you have particular objectives in mind when you write, and how do you choose your subjects?
Q. 2: Poetic Process
I’m going to ask you a question about the creation of that magic.
You refer to your poetry as lipslippery, a term that makes sense given the way you combine and re-imagine individual words while also using more conventional poetic devices. Could you talk about your poetic process by expanding on the term, "lipslippery"? What do you think makes a good children's poem work?
Q. 3: Poetry collections vs narratives
Your books for young children divide mainly into two categories: collections of poetry such as Toes in My Nose and If I Had a Million Onions and extended poetic narratives such as There’s a Mouse in My House and Mable Murple. At what point does a poem become a story for you? Is your writing process different when you are working on a collection of discrete poems than it is when you are crafting poetry into a cohesive picture book? Would you say that works like Merry-Go-Day and Sleeping Dragons All Around occupy a middle ground between these two types of books?"
Q. 4: Books, General
Given the wide variety and the sheer number of books you’ve written, could you tell us a bit about some of your favourites and about the books that came the easiest or the hardest or were the most surprising? Are they linked to particular influences? In other words could you tell us a few stories about your stories and about how other stories have shaped your own development as a writer?
Q. 5: Illustration
Your words have been paired with illustrations from a wide range of diverse artists over the years, from Molly Lamb Bobak to Yayo. Can you explain your experience of how the process of pairing an author with an illustrator works? What degree of communication have you had with your illustrators during the publishing process? What do you think it takes to illustrate a Sheree Fitch picture book and get it right?
Q. 6: Place/Region
Your stories are mostly set in Eastern Canada, particularly New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Even though setting is not always the central concern, place seems to be an important aspect of your stories. Do you feel you have a particular role to play as a Nova Scotian, a maritimer, or an Atlantic Canadian writer? Do you have any views on the notion of region or regionalism? Would you say that there is some defining feature or indelible mark to literature from the Atlantic Provinces or from Nova Scotia?
In your YA novels The Gravesavers and Pluto’s Ghost, you include some delightful commentary on maritime stereotypes and the marketing of our provinces as picture-perfect holiday destinations, such as the grandmother telling tourists that maritimers are only being nice because they know the tourists will be leaving and her joke on another visitor about “jellyfish cream salad,” or that what seems like the “quaint” town of Poplar Hills actually “ain’t,” as Jake’s dad says, on account of various sulphurous aromas that permeate the air, from manure to pulp and paper plants. What are you up to here? Does this sort of commentary have more of a place in YA books than books for younger readers?
Q. 7: Your Readers
You do a lot of public readings and have described much of your work as utterature, so your conception of audience is not a merely theoretical one. You have written for very young children, older ones, teens, and adults. Do you have particular guidelines in mind to distinguish between the different audiences you write for? (Do you find the term “crossover” book useful to describe a book that speaks to more than one audience?)
Q. 8: Learning Differences & Activism
You have written many works that might be considered educational, but not all of these are categorized as such by your publisher. If You Could Wear my Sneakers is listed as a picture/poetry book, for example. There is a fine line between books that illuminate the many differences your characters embody and books that purposely set out to “teach” and are thus seen as “tools” rather than “literature.” I’m sure you have thought about these matters a great deal as practically all your books cross this territory in one way or another. Could you comment on the relationship of the ludic and the didactic in your work?