Eleanor Ann Peterson Interview Published on: 04, May 2020

Born and raised in Ottawa, Canada, which is your favorite childhood memory?

Admiring a field filled with fluttering Monarch butterflies getting ready to migrate south for the winter.

Did you ever make friends with wild animals?

As a child, I spent most of my time in the swamps in Breckenridge, Québec. I don’t know if the bullfrog I petted every day knew he was my friend. But in Italy, there was a pack of wild boars that visited our grounds in the autumn. I could hand feed them my plums. They also loved my hazelnuts. There were ten of them, and the male was huge. I’d sit on the lawn near the woods, and they would surround me, sniffing to see who or what I was. Wild boars still visit the grounds year after year and bathe in a little pond I made for them. Then there was a kid that I named Lola, an injured roe deer that I kept for four days. She slept on a cushion near my bed, and I fed her every two hours. I had to give her up since in Italy we can’t keep wild animals. The provincial police took her. Unfortunately, she didn’t survive the transfer to the animal shelter.

How was your passion for writing about nature and animals developed?

As writers, we should write about what we love and about topics we know best. Therefore most of my manuscripts are informational fiction or concept books about the environment, animals, and science.

How did earning a BS in Environmental Sciences and Territorial Management at age 44 change your life?

This is a tough question. My life didn’t change much, I must say. Personally, it was an incredible accomplishment. It was quite the cruise at that age. Young adults surrounded me, and they were better prepared in some subjects than I was. I mean, who remembers derivatives and chemistry after being out of school for 25 years. You don’t use it every day. I never thought I could make it, but I graduated with 105/110, not bad for a baby boomer.

Having worn many hats in your career, which profession did you enjoy the most?

The machining shop. When I was a child, they always called me a tomboy, and I still am. I love pulling apart stuff and putting it back together again. In the shop, I cut steel bars and work at the CNC lathe, and I also take care of the accounting. Most of all, I’m happy I don’t have to wear high heels. I was just kidding.

Where is your family-run bakery located? Did you visit it often as a child?

The family-run bakery is in Italy. After our wedding in Canada, we moved to Italy, and at the time, my husband’s parents were retiring from the bakery. We ended up running the bakery for twenty years.

Since how long have you been a member of SCBWI? What is it about?

I’ve been a member since 2016. The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators is a professional organization for individuals who write and illustrate for children and young adults. They support the creation and availability of quality children’s books in every region of the world. It’s a fantastic community, and I highly suggest that established or aspiring authors and illustrators join SCBWI. You’ll find a wealth of information on the website about everything an author/illustrator needs to get published and tools to hone their craft.

What challenges did you face to take the readers back in the Jurassic period in your book, “Jurassic Rat”?

Jurassic Rat was born when I attended an online illustration class with The Children’s Book Academy, and the main challenge was coming up with a story and creating a book dummy. The idea came to me when I was surfing the web on how to get rid of roof rats. I stumbled upon an article about a rat that was unearthed in China belonging to the Jurassic period. There was a lot of research involved, and no books on the market had tackled the topic. So I decided to write an informational picture book that would introduce toddlers to the evolution of a species. Early childhood learning creates excellent outcomes. Not sure I answered your question?

Can you describe how did you evaluate products and suppliers as a sales and purchasing agent?

At the time, I was working for an Italian owned butt-weld fitting company in the province of Québec, Canada. We didn’t have the internet in 1977. I received and sent out quotes with the telex machine or by phone. When you have a tête-à-tête with your clients or suppliers, you create personal ties. As far as clients are concerned, trust is one of the key considerations, be professional at all times, and always follow up and keep track of their orders and be ready to do extra work to satisfy their needs and deliver on time. The same criteria apply to suppliers. Selecting a supplier is a quantitative and qualitative process. A supplier should offer more than just materials that meet specifications.

Did you consider illustrating your first book? Why or why not?

As mentioned above, I had a full book dummy for Jurassic Rat. So when I got the call from the editor, she said, “I love the story, but would you mind if someone else illustrated it? Of course, I accepted; it was my debut picture book. My illustrations were too frightening and realistic for the age group.

If there was anything you could say to your younger self, what would you say?

Believe in yourself and don’t let criticism and skepticism stop you from achieving your goals and dreams.

Have the children in your family read your first book? What was their reaction?

Of course! The little guys loved Rat and the dinosaurs. They couldn’t believe that rats lived alongside dinosaurs. My niece was so proud her aunt wrote a book that she wanted to show it to her teacher, and she’s eleven. I hope other children besides my family will enjoy Jurassic Rat.

What are some projects you’re currently working on?

Science fiction PB for ages 7-10 about robots and Mars STEM-related; Informational PB about a disobedient bee; Informational PB about the water cycle, with a bug as the main character; Chapter book about the survival of a domestic rabbit in the wild; MG mystery - about family life and the environment; PB about not littering.

Based on your experiences, could you rate and write a short review for AllAuthors?

Although I’ve just recently joined AllAuthor, I find it is excellent for marketing and promoting my book. The many tools available on their website are time-savers for busy authors. With a few clicks, you can create GIF’s for your best book reviews, or create mockup banners and videos to use for book promotion. My book was selected to compete in the March Cover of the Month contest, which helped me reach a broader audience.

Share Eleanor Ann Peterson's interview