Friday, February 29, 2008

Author Interview: Catherine Ipcizade

Meet Author Catherine Ipcizade!
Fresh from the Oven

I am a freelance writer/editor living in Southern California. In addition to 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day, I've also just had three books from Capstone Press released: African Animals: Giraffes; African Animals: Lions; African Animals: Zebras. I also write for adults and have written everything from articles to professional blogs to greeting cards. I write for both the trade and educational market--fiction and non-fiction.

I'm married and have two beautiful children, ages four and seven, who provide much inspiration for my work.

Featured Book: 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day
This delightful adaptation of ’Twas the Night Before Christmas, shares zoo keeper and animal preparations for the upcoming “Zoo Day.” But things aren’t going according to plan . . . The llamas won’t quit spitting, the giraffes are drooling, and the zebras aren’t happy at all with their stripes. Meanwhile, the zoo keepers are scurrying this way and that, cleaning up doodoos, ringing mealtime bells, and trying to get the animals bathed. Will “Zoo Day” go off without a hitch?

Q: Your official book launch will be March 1st and 2nd at the Santa Ana Zoo in Santa Ana, California. Wasn’t that the exact place you first caught the editor’s eye of the publisher who accepted your book? Share about that exciting experience!
A: I'm thrilled to be having my book launch at the Santa Ana Zoo! About a year ago, I received word that 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day was being held for consideration by Sylvan Dell. I'd been corresponding with them (especially with Donna German, the editor/owner at Sylvan Dell) about another manuscript prior to this one, so they'd likely gotten more e-mails from me than anyone in history (kidding). By the time the SCBWI Editor's Day rolled around, Zoo Day was in the final stages of consideration. I knew Lee German, co-owner of Sylvan Dell would be there, so I jumped at the chance to attend. At the conference, I was lucky enough to meet Lee and to hear that they loved the story and that there was a "good chance" they'd be publishing it. I resisted the urge to get down on my hands and knees and beg, and left the conference elated. About a month-and-a-half later and much finger-crossing, pacing, and obsessive e-mail checking, I received the acceptance.

Q: Can you describe the process you went through to write the manuscript for your picture book ‘TWAS THE DAY BEFORE ZOO DAY.
A: Writing 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day was a joy from the beginning. Because I'd submitted to Sylvan Dell before, I had an idea of what they might be looking for. I wanted to write a manuscript specifically tailored for their company, so I knew it had to be fiction but with non-fiction elements. I'd just finished researching giraffes for another picture book and decided to take that concept and create a book about animals at the zoo. First I researched every animal imaginable, writing down any fun facts I could find. Then I started writing stanzas (the book is in rhyme) about each animal. Somehow from that, 'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day was born. "It was the Day Before Zoo Day" worked better as "Twas the Day Before Zoo Day," and voila! an adaption of Twas the Night Before Christmas became logical...and fun.

It just seemed natural to take animals in their zoo habitat and make them fun and sometimes naughty. After all, I've been to enough zoos to wonder just WHAT those animals are thinking while being stared at every day! I wrote the manuscript rather quickly, then spent some time revising, editing, cutting out stanzas and adding new ones. Then I sent it off and held my breath. I wasn't sure Sylvan Dell would want a spoof on "Twas the Night Before Christmas," so I actually sent two versions of the story.

Q: What have been some of the highlights of the journey as your book went from manuscript to published book?
A: Seeing the illustrations, from initial sketches to final product was AMAZING. I cannot describe how it felt to see Ben Hodson's work and to know that he'd "gotten" what I'd written. His animal expressions, and his unique take on the story made it so much more than I could have imagined. Ben is an amazing artist, and such a nice person as well. I got very lucky.

Q: Share one tip you’d like to give to a children’s author about attending a writer’s conference.
A: Attend! Don't be shy. Don't sit in a corner. Don't nearly hyperventilate, like I did, when trying to approach an attending agent or editor. YOU matter. Your work matters. When you have the opportunity to create an impression on someone, even if it's just for a moment, seize it!

If you’re in the area, be sure to plan for “Zoo Day” and take your family to the Santa Ana Zoo on Saturday and Sunday, March 1 and 2. Catherine will be there both days from 10:00 to 2:00 to sign copies of her wonderful new book, ‘Twas the Day Before Zoo Day as they celebrate the birthday of the zoo!

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LCalabrese said...

'Twas the Day Before Zoo Day is a wonderful and fun book. There's a great preview of the book on Sylvan Dell's website for those unsure about buying. Catherine stopped by my blog ( for an interview as well, so check it out! Thanks Nancy!

Nancy I. Sanders said...

What a fun blog you have, Lori! Thanks for sharing. It was fun to read more about Catherine, too. Isn't it a cute book?