Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome Joy Heyer to my blog. Duck, Duck, Moose seems to be your first book. If that is correct, what inspired you to use animals in your book and feature such an unusual take on a child’s game?
Joy Heyer: I love puns and word play so when the phrase “Duck, Duck, Moose” popped into my head, I immediately pictured a fearful duck riding on the back of a moose. How did the duck get to the moose? Where was goose? What would it be like to play duck, duck, goose with a moose instead? Or a pig? Or a porcupine? And suddenly I had a picture book.
Ferrante: When did you begin writing and why have you chosen children’s picture books as your genre?
Heyer: I studied writing and illustrating children’s books when I was in college but it wasn’t until 2009, when a friend invited me to join her writing group, that I really started seriously writing and illustrating.
Ferrante: You have four children and are now a grandmother as well. Have you used your family as inspiration for your book?
Heyer: Oh yes! My children have been sad, grumpy, and lonely many times because their best friends were out of town. Watching them decide to be happy and make new friends is always a delight.
Ferrante: I see we have similar interest in reading, writing, painting, sewing, and dreaming up home-improvement projects. How do you balance these interests? Do you switch for a break after a long period working on one craft or do you do several at a time? How does this impact your writing?
Heyer: Drawing and painting are my favorite things to do so I have to make sure I set aside time for all the other things that need doing, including reading and writing. Fortunately, reading, writing, and drawing are interconnected so I find myself doing at least a little of each every day. As for home-improvement projects…well, maybe someday I will get to them.
Ferrante: Your bio mentioned that you have a dog that goes crazy whenever you leave the house. Do you think this pet might show up in one of your future books?
Heyer: Definitely. He provides me with lots of great story ideas—so many I hope to create a whole series of books with him as the main character.
Ferrante: That sounds fun. As a new author, what have you learned the hard way that you wish you had known earlier?
Heyer: It takes a lot of hard work and practice to be good at writing and illustrating. Who knows? Maybe I would be discussing my tenth book instead of my first book if I had started practicing earlier!
Ferrante: Absolutely. What are you working on now?
Heyer: I continue to draw and write everyday (practice, practice, practice!) so when the next project comes, I’m ready. In the meantime, I’m enjoying sharing Duck, Duck, Moose with everyone. Maybe I could start a home-improvement project…
Ferrante: Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like to share?
Heyer: I would encourage everyone to find someone who is lonely and be their friend, even if at first they are grumpy. Just like moose and duck.
Ferrante: If you could MC any television show which one would you choose?
Heyer: PBS Masterpiece Mystery! I LOVE mystery shows and books. It all started with my first Nancy Drew book. Maybe one day I will write a mystery book, maybe a dog who solves crimes…
Ferrante: Go for it! If you could compete at an Olympic level, which sport would you pick?
Heyer: Snowboard Half-Pipe. I would love to have that talent. I can’t even handle little rollercoasters so all that twisting and spinning they do is doubly impressive to me.
Ferrante: That’s a gusty choice. What is your favourite children song and why?
Heyer: The Itsy-Bitsy Spider, though in our home it is the Eeby-Beeby Spider because that is how one of my daughters sang it when she was little. It reminds me of the happiness one little song sung by a child can bring.
Ferrante: There’s nothing sweeter, that’s for sure. Thank you for answering my questions and sharing your experience with us. Best of luck with Duck, Duck, Moose and your future writing.