Pajama Press

Interview with Victoria Allenby

Posted on November 15th, 2013 by pajamapress

V.AllenbyVictoria Allenby is the author of Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That, a picture book illustrated by Tara Anderson that CM Magazine has “Highly Recommended” as “a perfect choice for bedtime and storytimes for young children.” This week Victoria chatted with Pajama Press publicist Erin Woods about her own story. This transcript is part of that conversation.

[E] Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That came out in September—your first book. How has the experience been so far?
[V] It’s been surreal, really. I mean, I’m an author? Like, a real one with books on the shelves of stores where I shop? But it’s true. I really am. My mom called me one day to tell me that my hometown indie bookstore had Nat face-out on a rack, which means the owner must have really liked it. I almost stopped breathing. That’s the store that taught me what good taste in books was when I was growing up.
So that’s a pretty high commendation for you.
The highest. Absolutely.
I know this is the oldest interview question there is, but where did Nat the Cat Can Sleep Like That come from? What inspired it?
Ugh, this is so embarrassing. Do I have to? Okay, alright, it was Internet pictures of cats. I know, right? Lame-o. But when someone posts a funny cat picture I can’t stop myself from clicking it. I can’t.
So you were looking at funny cat photos?
Yeah. There was a… I don’t know, a collection someone had posted. Cats sleeping in awkward poses or something. And I have a cat. I had a cat growing up and I have one now. They’re ridiculous, the way they can sleep anywhere, any way. I’m kind of really jealous of that. Anyway, I thought, who can’t relate to a poem about a cat sleeping all over the place?
Fair enough. And you’ve brought up another point I wanted to talk about: poetry.
Oh, I like poetry.
I love poetry.
It’s very important to you?
Yes. Well, I don’t think about it like that, I mean, not like a religion is very important or whatever. But it’s something I’ve always done. I can’t help it.
How long is always?
Oh, since I was five? Six? My family has some very old poems of mine somewhere.
Are they any good?
Uhhh… well. The word choice is funny. And the spelling is terrible. And the subject matter is….. Metrically, though, they’re not bad. Rhythm was easy for me. I think I was born with rhythm. Like some people are born with… with freckles. Are babies born with freckles?
…I don’t know.
Do you think it’s important for kids to learn about rhythm and rhyme?
Yes. Absolutely. It trains their ear. It makes them enjoy language. It makes reading easier. They can, you know, predict what’s coming next because of the way the sentence sounds. And they can memorize the book and pretend they’re reading, which is the first step.
Are you a big reader?
Oh, yes. Huge. Monstrous. I’m a—a—oh, what’s it’s name… Japan… Godzilla! I’m a Godzilla of a reader.
That big! What do you read?
Oh, anything. History, poetry, YA if it isn’t too full of vampires or mean girls. I’m on a fantasy kick right now. Last year it was urban homesteading.
Do you think you’ll ever try your hand at writing any genres other than picture books?
Possibly. I do have novels and partial novels scattered around from my high school years. They’re horrible, though. It’s a very different skill set to write a novel than a picture book.
So what’s next? Do you have any more picture books in the works?
Oh, I’ve written about a hundred manuscripts and I hate them all [Laughs]. No, that’s not true. I have two that I’m kind of nursing along, fixing a word here and there, getting them ready for the world. But it’s actually a scary thing, submitting your second manuscript. Way scarier than your first. Now there’s a precedent. Now you’re supposed to know what you’re doing, and what if you don’t? What if you do get it published, but then the reviewers say, “Well, it’s not bad, but it isn’t as good as the first one.”?
Do you think that will happen?
Noooo… well, I think about it happening a lot. Do you think if I worry enough I can stop it from happening? Murphy’s law?
That sounds reasonable to me.
Good. Then it won’t happen. My second book will be spectacular.
I’m glad to hear it.
Me too! What a relief.
This interview has been edited for length

To learn more about Victoria, visit her website here.