Lynne Berry lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her husband and assorted pets. She is the author of several books for young readers, including Duck Tents, Duck Skates, and Ducking for Apples.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Sudbury, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston.
What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
My earliest memory of writing is keeping a journal of a weekend trip to Florida when I was in first grade. My aunt and uncle lived in Fort Lauderdale, and my family went to visit them for a long weekend. My brother and I played a lot of gin rummy and ate a lot of sugary cereal (my parents wouldn't ever buy us sugary cereal, but my uncle had stocked up on Frosted Flakes, Sugar Pops, Sugar Smacks, etc.; my brother and I could not possibly have been more delighted). I went swimming with my uncle, collected seashells with my aunt-and I recorded it all in my journal. By the end of the weekend, I'd filled about three pages, which seemed to me quite an enormous writing project!
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
I use my childhood as inspiration, but only in a general sense; I don't write about specific things that happened to me as a child. But I remember the kinds of things I liked and didn't like, the kinds of things that interested me, and that influences my writing.
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
From my childhood, one book that stands out is Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present, written by Charlotte Zolotow, illustrated by Maurice Sendak. I also loved the Frog & Toad books (by Arnold Lobel), the Encyclopedia Brown books (by Donald Sobol), all the books about Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle (by Betty MacDonald), and absolutely anything by Madeleine L'Engle.
As an adult, I continue to read primarily books for children! But one adult title that is beyond compare is To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.
I'm not sure any of these books has influenced my work in a very direct way, but they are the types of books that remind me of the power of words, and inspire me to want to put words on paper.
What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
I have lots of dogs: five! I practice yoga. I like crafts, like tie-dying. I like to play cards, though I almost always lose!
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
One of my favorite author/illustrators is Uri Shulevitz, because of his book Snow. I think this book is just about perfect. The text is so simple and concise, and yet conveys volumes; the language is poetic and magical. The illustrations are a perfect accompaniment, informing the text beautifully.
Another favorite is James Marshall, because his work is just so darn funny!
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Read as much as you can!
Write as much as you can!