Ask an Author: Charles Ghigna
Charles Ghigna (Father Goose®) lives in a treehouse in the middle of Alabama. He is the author of more than one hundred books from Random House, Simon & Schuster, Time Inc., Disney, Hyperion, Scholastic, Abrams, Boyds Mills Press, Charlesbridge, Capstone, Orca and other publishers. He has written more than five thousand poems for children and adults that have appeared in anthologies, newspapers and magazines ranging from The New Yorker and Harper’s to Highlights and Cricket magazines.
Charles also served as poet-in-residence and chair of creative writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, instructor of creative writing at Samford University, poetry editor of English Journal for the National Council of Teachers of English, and as a nationally syndicated poetry feature writer for Tribune Media Services. He speaks at schools, conferences, libraries, and literary events throughout the U.S. and overseas, and has read his poems at The Library of Congress, The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, the American Library in Paris, the American School in Paris, and the International Schools of South America. For more information, visit his website at FatherGoose.com.
1. What is your process for finding and choosing a good story to tell? Do you use any outside help to find good ideas like music, the world around you, kids you or situation you know, a good book or movie, or a weird dream?
My inspiration and ideas come from nature, children, pets, animals, family, friends, and from the real and imagined visions I see along my daily two-mile hike. I'm inspired by little things, quiet moments. I listen and observe. I celebrate life. I practice gratitude. Much of my inspiration comes from my beloved grandchildren, Charlotte Rose and Christopher. You will see their names proudly displayed on the dedication page of many of my books. My son's art also inspires me. You can see samples of his paintings at ChipGhigna.com
2. How do you determine the age of your audience?
My publishers usually determine the age of my audience after I've written the book. For me personally, I try not to think about specific ages. I simply like to imagine myself telling my story or poem in a hushed voice to just one child. If I can capture that kind of quiet, intimate storytelling magic, it usually translates on the page to other children as well.
3. What is your revision process like?
When the initial burst of inspiration comes, I usually try to capture it as fast as I can. I write in the white heat passion of the moment without thinking about spelling or punctuation. I like to let the story or poem take me where it wants to go before limiting my ideas with outlines or preconceived ideas. After the first burst of inspiration, I let the manuscript cool overnight. After it has marinated for a day or two, I begin revision process. I spend several days revising until each action, each scene, each word is my last best choice.
4. What is your favorite medium in the kid lit world, and why do you think kids love it?
I like to think of my books and poems as little celebrations of life. Sometimes my stories and poems are told through animal characters like in Mice are Nice and sometimes through real children like First Times. I like to write with humor and a child-like imagination.
5. If you could travel back in time, what advice would you give to yourself as a brand new writer?
I would have fostered my interest in drawing and painting so that I could illustrate as well as write my poems and stories for children.
6. What websites, blogs, or books would you recommend to a new writer?
The FAQ page at FatherGoose.com
7. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Buy a notebook and write in it every day. Write about something that happened that day or about your special thoughts. Write just a few sentences about anything you want to write about. Write as though you're talking to your best friend. Do that for two weeks and then stop, if you can.
If you can't, you're a writer! And no one no matter how hard they may try will ever be able to stop you from following your writing dreams. Enjoy those dreams. Follow them. Make new ones. Share them. Write of your passions, your loves, your fears, your joys. Find your writer's voice by listening deep inside. It's that little voice that says in a low, soft whisper, "Listen to this..."
8. You’re a shapeshifter now! If you could turn into any animal, what would it be and why?
I think I would like to be an eagle, at least for day, so that I could soar above the mountains and treetops and glide along the rivers and streams.