Edward van de Vendel has written dozens of books for children and young adults, including The Dog That Nino Didn’t Have, A Dog Like Sam, and Sam in Winter (all Eerdmans). He was nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award in 2011 and 2012. He lives in the Netherlands.
What made you decide to become an author?
I’ve always loved song lyrics. In my teenage years I used to study them carefully and learn them by heart. I even tried my hand at writing some. But being a “lyricist” is not something that could be seen as a job in these days. During my teacher’s training (I taught elementary school) I started reading children’s poetry. And somehow it was close to the lyrics that I knew. So I started writing some short poems and kept doing so during my early working years. These poems made it into a magazine and from there came my first book. And then the fire was lit.
What are you most passionate about this job?
First of all the writing itself. The ways a story goes, the enchantment of words going in a direction that feels right. It’s something that I will never fully understand. Second of all there’s the receiving end of writing books: the messages I get from children and their parents. That is just sheer joy.
What’s a typical workday like?
Messy. I’m also a translator, so I need to do a few pages every day. I work with young talents, so I might have a meeting with one of them. I have the ever-growing email waves to ride, and then I need to find some window of quietness to write in. So every day could be different. Oh, and there’s also daily life. And daily reading.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
From things I overhear, from reading, from thinking and rethinking, or, to be honest: I don’t know exactly.
How much research do you do before you begin a book?
It all depends on the book. Often my books have some roots in reality, so I try to speak with experts or look things up online.
What is the process of writing a book; how does it go from an idea to a finished work on sale in bookstores?
It all starts with a lot of dreaming and pondering. Then there will be a first draft. Then there’s reworking on the printed pages. Then there’s the big relief of having finished something and having sent it to my editor. Then there’s talking with her about the text and what she thinks could be changed. Afterwards: the changing, the looking for an illustrator, waiting for the artwork, and then . . . it’s out of my hands.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
I couldn’t name one. I’ve been given huge joy when some of my books were awarded, or when I got to see brilliant illustrations for the first time, or when heartfelt fan letters came in, or when books got sold abroad, or when I got to cooperate with young and inspiring people.
What do you hope kids learn from your books?
I think I just hope they enjoy the parallel life a book provides them with.
Can you tell us one thing people may not know about you?
I used to be an expert on tropical fish! I had several fish tanks when I was a teenager.
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