Jordan J. Scavone created his first picture book at about six years old. This first book was titled The Animals Look For Food. It was about animals looking for food. Though not the most well-thought-out (or well written) book of all time, this did plant seeds for the future. After receiving his undergraduate degree in Children's Literature and Theater for the Young from Eastern Michigan University, Jordan began working on his first picture book. This past April Jordan received his M.A. in Children's Literature from EMU. Recently, we had the pleasure of sitting down to chat with Jordan about his writing career. Here is an excerpt from that discussion.
PP: What is the first book that made you cry?
JS: I don’t know if Of Mice and Men was the first, but I remember it really broke me. I love, love, love that book, and it gets me every time.
PP: What is your writing Kryptonite?
JS: Editing probably…I’m mildly dyslexic so I miss a lot of little things. Outside of that, actually starting a new book. I can come up with a solid idea, a solid action, but getting that opening line or first paragraph is tough.
PP: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
JS: Yes. Haha, I do want them to all stand alone (like the cheese!) but, I like to add in little nods almost like Pixar does. Emma (Might-E) and Georgia (The Mud Princess) cameo as classmates in A Girl Named Adam and when people notice, it’s pretty cool.
PP: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
JS: I think it made me more anxious knowing that now that one was out, other things I write could also come out, and I felt like I had to step-up my game. I also felt like I had to really finish things more quickly, as I suddenly had people asking for more books.
PP: As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
JS: Much like in life, a turtle. I’m a procrastinator, I’m slow, but I could also secretly be a ninja.
PP: What did you edit out of your books?
JS: My picture books don’t actually lose too much from draft to draft. The YA novel I’m plugging along with right now will probably have a lot cut, but I am an adverb guy. So, I’ll probably need to cut lots of those soon.
PP: What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
JS: Does it have to be important? Cause, I’d love to give-up my dyslexia haha. But I guess if it had to be something I cared about... uhm... hotdogs? Yeah... maybe…chocolate milk? No... because that would mean no hot chocolate... this is a hard question.
PP: What is your favorite childhood book?
JS: I didn’t read too many children’s picture books as a kid (ironic right?) but I remember the first book series I ever actively followed and got the books the day they released was the Deltora Quest series by Emily Rodda. They are a mid-grade fantasy series, and I ate those books up. I still have my childhood copies of the first eight in the initial series. I reread them every few years.
PP: What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
JS: Focusing on writing. I love video games, I love movies, I love reading, I love just hanging out with my wife and playing lazer tag. I need to get better about sitting down and actually writing. When I’m motivated, I can crank out numbers, but when I am unmotivated... it’s not pretty.
PP: What is the easiest part of your writing process?
JS: Character design! I love coming up with characters, and fleshing out their personalities, backstories, how they look, etc.
PP: When did it dawn on you that you wanted to be a children’s book author?
JS: When I was quite young. I have a book from early elementary school, that I still have that I wrote on computer paper, stenciled the pictures, and stapled them all together. It’s awful, I had a 2nd grade girl during a school visit, beg me to read it, then when I got halfway through, they told me “You can stop now.”
PP: Who are your biggest literary influences?
JS: Sendak is probably number one. I don’t want to write like him stylistically, but I love how long his books are, how he doesn’t write down to kids, and how his stories are just great. He’s one of the all-time greats for a reason.
PP: What’s your favorite movie which was based on a book? Why?
JS: Probably Lord of the Rings, I can literally watch those movies anytime as many times as possible. I think they did a good job adapting the books, while also making the movies their own thing. You can enjoy both the movies and the books as separate things, but also as the same thing.
PP: How long does it take you to finish a book?
JS: Reading or writing? Reading, I can generally knock out a typical length YA novel in a day or two. Writing, from start to finish somewhere between eight and twelve months for a picture book.
PP: What is that one thing you think readers generally don’t know about children’s books?
JS: They aren’t just for kids. Most children’s books have some element of a dual audience to keep the adults reading the books interested. Mine, however, are written for all ages, just using the picture book as more of a lens. I try to write so that everyone can truly enjoy them.
PP: Can you tell us about your current projects?
JS: The YA novel I am almost done drafting is urban fantasy. Swords, shields, vampires, and blood. It’s a big step away from my picture books, but the early reading responses have been very strong. I’ve had friends who are familiar with my picture books be very surprised that I can write YA. I’m also toying around the idea with a Middle Grade novel and trying to find my next picture book.
PP: Any advice you would like to give to aspiring creators/artists?
JS: Do the thing. I know it sounds dumb but do the thing. If you fail, that’s fine, sometimes it’s better to fail the first time. I finished NaNoWriMo in 2010 and was so excited I finished that I used CreateSpace to get the book out less than a month after November. It was unedited (because I thought that Word’s spell check was good enough) and ultimately it was trash. It needed so much work, and it was so bad that I stopped writing novels for a long time. In hindsight, I’m glad that that happened, if it didn’t I would never have improved, and I would never have written Might-E and I wouldn’t have three children’s books out.
Visit Jordan J. Scavone and Learn More about His Books at
These Upcoming Events:
May 11, 2019: 2nd Annual Morse Elementary Book Bazaar, Troy, MI
June 22, 2019: The Pages Promotions Summer Indie Author Book Fest at
The Hilton Garden Inn, Troy, MI
July 27, 2019: Sterlingfest in Sterling Heights, MI
October 20, 2019: Leon & LuLu's Books & Authors; Clawson, MI
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