Anna C. Morrison is an author of children’s books, including Silly Moments and Green Gooey Goop, with many more to follow. She is also an adjunct professor for multiple colleges and universities, both face-to-face and online. While she instructs various levels of English composition, she also teaches classes on literature, film, feature writing, and technical writing, among others. In addition, she has worked with Adapt Courseware as a writing consultant on three video course projects, including college skills and composition. Anna received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University in Louisville, Kentucky, and her BA in English, Creative Writing, from California State University, San Bernardino. Anna is an active member of SCBWI and is available for book signings. She lives in Southern California with her family and pets.
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About the Book:
Squirrel Superhighway features a dog on a self-discovery mission who is surrounded by many graceful squirrels. This is a vocabulary booster in a series of feel-good stories for children of all ages
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Thanks for this interview, Anna. I’ve always wanted to write children’s books. When did you determine that writing for children was for you?
Thank you for interviewing me! Writing for children occurred to me when I was an undergrad in countless English classes, and I realized that most of the books I loved were written for children or young adults. When I wrote, since I was on the creative writing track, I also found myself writing for children and for young adults. Childhood and adolescence is when the most brain development is occurring, and the life experiences in this timeframe shape us the most. These are the memories that we carry with us into adulthood, so they should be not only educational but inspirational, so that we always strive to be better than we were the day before, which is my personal goal. Children know this intuitively, as their job is to learn and grow, and I believe this is reflected in my work.
What was the inspiration behind your children’s book, Squirrel Superhighway: It’s Good to be a Dog?
Squirrel Superhighway started in the back of my mind when I lived in Lytle Creek, California, with my young son and our animals. My little dog used to love the squirrels who lived in the trees on and around our property. They would chatter among themselves and scurry about on the highway that they created for themselves through the trees and on the telephone poles. They were constantly harvesting pine cones for their seeds. Bits and pieces of pine cones were scattered everywhere, and they even would throw them sometimes so that, just out of nowhere, a pine cone would come flying down in front of me. One even hit a visitor on the head! These squirrels were great characters, and my dog, I think, even wanted to be a squirrel sometimes, from the way he was fascinated by them.
How do you get into the mind of a child to create a fun reading experience? Are you around kids? Are you a kid at heart?
While my son is no longer young like when I used to read him picture books every night, and there are no other children in my life, I am probably a perpetual child. I am always looking for opportunities to learn and grow, and I see beauty in everything I can, which are childlike qualities. I think of what makes me smile or laugh and try it out on the page. My inner child directs me.
What was your favorite book as a child?
There are so many that it’s difficult to select one. I was a precocious reader, and I could read when I was four years old, which is when I started Kindergarten. I already could read and was developing my skills when other children were still learning the alphabet. I zipped through the reading selections offered at school and spent two or three days a week at the local library well into my teenage years, often surprising new librarians while the ones who knew me well just smiled. While I enjoyed picture books early on, I quickly graduated to longer works, and I enjoyed the classics as well as contemporary works. I devoured the Little House series. I especially loved mysteries, and still do, such as Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, and Trixie Belden, and I even read all of Agatha Christie’s works before I was ten. I have a wall of inspiration in my home, and she is figured prominently.
The one book I remember reading over and over again, always with a box of tissues next to me, was Black Beauty by Anna Sewell. First, it empowered me because here was an author with my first name, which told young me that I could also be an author. Second, it was about animals, and I love animals more than I love most anything else. Third, it was about protecting animals and educating people about how animals feel and that we should treat them kindly, and this was such an important lesson to impart that I couldn’t imagine anything more important to teach people when I was this age, which was probably between ten and twelve. After a few years, I set this book aside, and I don’t like to read things that make me cry anymore, but the lesson—and the desire to continue to share this lesson—stayed with me.
What kind of advice would you give writers who would like to write children’s books?
If people would like to write children’s books, they should definitely read children’s books first, and they should read a lot of them. What is it that they like the best? Is it the humor, the art, the word play? They should discover what style appeals to them specifically and work on developing that in their own work with their own personal approach to the genre.
What are your goals for the future? More children’s books?
I do have more children’s picture books in mind, specifically more in the “It’s Good to be…” series, and the next one in this series will focus on marine birds. I love to walk in a bird sanctuary near my home, and there are many migrating seabirds, along with birds who live there year-round, and they interact in fascinating ways. Since this is a waystation for birds from around the world, and some stop for a little while and then move on, while others choose to remain, it seems that the theme here is that everyone needs a home, even if it is only temporary, and it should be safe and secure. Children can relate to that, and so can I, and believe the birds express it well, so it is the subject of my newest work in progress. Thank you for having me for this interview!