We’re happy to have you visit MG Book Village today, Anne! Can you please tell us a little bit about yourself?
Thank you for having me, Kathie! I’m thrilled to be here today! My mother named me for Anne of Green Gables, and after living in Hawaii, California, and Texas, I recently married my college sweetheart, and now live in Canada (though not on Prince Edward Island). I’ve been an educator of children and adults, and a co-owner of a children’s only bookstore. Books, especially middle grade novels, have always held a special place in my heart.
Congratulations on the release of BLUE SKIES, which came out March 17th. What was your writing process like for this book? Are you a pantser or a plotter, and do you prefer to work in short bursts of writing or longer stretches of time?
BLUE SKIES began as a picture book. A couple of years later, a generous editor offered feedback and suggested I revise it as a middle grade. Years after that, I enrolled in VCFA and graduated with a completed manuscript. I received lovely rejections. More years passed, and because I couldn’t get the “train story” out of my mind, I decided to rework it one more time. That revision led to others, and eventually the manuscript that went on submission. Throughout the fifteen plus years process, I benefited from my mentors, critique partners, agent, editor, librarians, and friends. I am thankful for each one.
I am a first draft panster, though I research in broad stokes before I put my fingers on the keyboard. Somehow I always know how I want the story to end.
My preference is to write for two-plus hours at a time, but that isn’t always possible. So if my window is fifteen minutes or more, I’ll try to jump in: journaling, brainstorming, and research count.
Where did the inspiration for this story come from?
I love sharing this part of the book’s journey! It falls into the category of—you never know where an idea will come from. An image of a train (representing an archived exhibit) on a staff member’s computer at the Texas Memorial Museum caught my eye. That night I read about the Merci Train. In 1949, 49 boxcars from France, filled with gifts from the heart were sent to U.S. in thanks for our support before, during, and after WWII. I knew then and there that I wanted to incorporate that expression of generosity into a story.
Is there a character in your book that’s most like you?
Yes! That would be Glory Bea, because like her, I was a Daddy’s girl. My dad has been gone over fifteen years now, and I miss him everyday.
What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned on your publishing journey?
I’m learning to slow down and find joy in each part of the writing and publishing process. In turn, this enables me to focus on the now and not worry about what’s next.
Where can our readers go to find out more about you and your writing, and do you have another writing project on which you’re currently working?
Thanks for asking! My website is http://www.annebustard.com. I’m Anne Bustard on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.
I’m dipping back into a middle grade manuscript that’s been resting. It’s a story set in Texas, sparked by an unusual historical event.
Thanks again for inviting me to MG Book Village, Kathie! I’ve loved connecting! Happy reading and writing to all!
We wish you all the best with your book’s launch, Anne!
Anne Bustard is the former co-owner of Toad Hall Children’s Bookstore and MFA graduate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is the author of the middle grade novels Anywhere But Paradise and Blue Skies, as well as two picture books: Rad! and Buddy: The Story of Buddy Holly, which was an IRA Children’s Book Award Notable and a Bank Street Book of the Year.