This week on Tuesday Tours I’m excited to feature mid grade and picture book author Tara Lazar who makes a comfortable space in her New Jersey home that gives her the ability to write books, blog about her experience as a writer, and encourage other writers through her created challenge PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month)—the picture book writer’s answer to NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month). I found PiBoldMo a simple but brilliant challenge to create new ideas for picture books over the course of 30 days, although this is a challenge that can keep on going long after the month is over. This year was my first time participating in the challenge, and it yielded me an amazing trove of ideas that I go back to again and again, either to inspire a rough draft or add a new idea. Tara’s ideas have turned into a number of books, such as her currently available Monstore, as well as four new titles coming out over the next few years.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
My name is Tara Lazar and I saw ladies in half! Therefore, my creative medium must be…ladies??? No, sorry, kidding. I do that. Joke around, not saw things in half—unless you count words. Then, yes, definitely, I’ve been known to saw words in half and cobble them back together to create portmanteaus. I’m a children’s picture book author!
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process?
My space doesn’t necessarily lend me creativity—it lends me comfort. It’s my own bedroom, which I’ve had for almost 10 years, since we moved into this house. But I believe comfort begets creativity. I sit upon my bed to write, with a comfy husband providing back support. No, my husband Alan does not sit behind me all day. I mean a pillow husband. My lucky husband actually has a home office! Yes, we both work at home. People wonder how we don’t drive each other nuts. A staircase separates us. And, there are picture books on the staircase! So I often get distracted on my way down to see him and plop down to read.
Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
Not really. I’m not a routine type of person. I enjoy a mammoth mug of Earl Grey or chai from time to time, but I don’t need it like some people need coffee. Or donuts. Hmm, on second thought, maybe I do need donuts. With rainbow sprinkles.
Is there anything you like to listen to while you’re working? What are you reading/listening to now?AHHHHH! No! I absolutely cannot create while listening to music. Or games of Marco Polo, which is what I hear all day long because the community pool is right behind my house. Who invented this game? It’s positively maddening!!! When I’m NOT writing, I’m listening to classic rock, which is what they call Nirvana these days. NIRVANA is CLASSIC ROCK. What kind of wacky world am I living in? I’d also like to give a shout-out to Ed Sheeran. I adore him, my ginger god. I have been singing “Sing” for weeks now, much to the chagrin of my two girls. They love the song, too, but I’m woefully out of tune. I was actually dancing to the song in delia’s earlier this week, which greatly embarrassed my 11-year-old. I live for those moments. Right now I’m reading “Man on the Run” which is about Paul McCartney in the 70’s, after the breakup of the Beatles and during his Wings resurgence. “Band on the Run” is one of my favorite songs of all time.
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
I tend to buy trinkets AFTER I’ve begun writing something, for good luck. A tiny talisman. This is the miniature bear I bought after I began writing I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK (Aladdin/S&S, 2015).
How often do you rearrange your space to make it more functional?
Um, never. I just pile more things on the floor. Again, kidding. Sort of. I bought this funky mid-century magazine rack on ebay last year. It keeps some things off the floor. I also recently bought this antique curio in which to house miniatures. I had a glass menagerie as a child, and I’ve always been fascinated by tiny little things, but haven’t had anywhere to let them live. I plan to paint it cream and hang it on my bedroom wall.
If you had a couple hundred dollars to improve your space, what would you do?
I’d buy this art deco bookcase I’ve had my eye on. It’s tricky because I have a limited amount of space, but this bookcase has the perfect dimensions to fit between my bedroom door and my closet door, as long as I pick up the dirty clothing overflow.
What colors inspire your creativity. Are those colors incorporated in your space? My favorite colors are turquoise and periwinkle blue. My bedroom is cranberry and cream. Makes sense, no? (NO.)
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
I think you can be creative anywhere as long as you’re comfortable. Heck, I’m at my most creative in a hot shower. I’ll be the first in line for a waterproof Mac.
What’s up next for you and where can we find out more?
My debut picture book THE MONSTORE is available now from Aladdin/S&S. Next up is I THOUGHT THIS WAS A BEAR BOOK in August 2015, followed by LITTLE RED GLIDING HOOD in October 2015. More books are on their way in 2016 and 2017…phew! My website is http://taralazar.com.
Thanks for sharing your creative space with us, Tara. I’m looking forward to seeing your new books when they’re released!