Monday, October 11, 2010

Inquiry XX: Lori Calabrese

Happy Monday! Today, I would like to introduce children's author Lori Calabrese

Lori Calabrese is an award-winning children’s author. Her first picture book, The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade, was awarded DFP’s Best Children’s Book Award. She writes for various children’s magazines, is the National Children’s Books Examiner at and enjoys sharing her passion for children’s books at festivals, schools and events. Visit her website to learn more,

EEM: Did you always want to be a writer?

LC: I never imagined I’d be a writer and if you had told me I’d be a children’s author, I never woulda thunk it! I’ve always been a reader, but didn’t realize my passion for children’s books until I had my own kids. Having the opportunity to share stories with them night after night is a time that I really cherish. I think that’s why it’s so important to me to write the best book a child can read.

EEM: When you began writing, was it instant success and riches or did you find you had to work other jobs in order to continue your dream of being a writer?

LC: You mean you missed my episode of MTV Cribs? Just kidding, of course. I’ve quickly learned that writers write because they have a passion for it. Unless you’re Stephanie Meyer or J.K. Rowling, chances are you’re not going to be able to quit your day job. Children’s authors love creating stories and making words sing and the ultimate payoff is seeing children enjoy your books.

EEM: What jobs have you held, current or in the past, to help sustain your writing career?

LC: After graduating high school, I attended Pepperdine University, Boston University, and St. John’s University. I might not have known where I wanted to go to school, but I did know that I wanted to work in television. I graduated from St. John’s University in Queens, New York with a B.S. in Communications and had a ten-year career as a TV producer. When I decided to become a stay-at-home, I made the leap into full-time freelance writing and to sustain my writing career, I write for children’s magazines, write work-for-hire books, and write for web content sites.

EEM: Which job was the most challenging or strange to you?

LC: The most challenging was working as a TV producer. You’re under tight deadlines, under the pressure of live television, and you often work long hours.

EEM: What was your favorite thing about this job?

LC: My favorite part of working as a TV producer is really hard to pinpoint. I loved the pressure of live television, making sure everything went off without a hitch, and working with some fascinating people. But I also loved post-production and the editing process, too.

EEM: Least Favorite?

LC: My least favorite would have to be the travel. I’ve been on one too many bumpy flights!

EEM: Did your day job(s) allow you to write regularly? Or did you have to get creative to get those word counts in? What other effects did it have on your writing?

LC: Fortunately, I was able to write as a TV producer. Although I was writing scripts for TV shows and DVDs, I was constantly able to hone my writing skills and creativity. I think as an author all your life experiences influence your writing style and contribute to finding your voice. Even though my experience writing scripts for television shows and DVDS was completely different than writing children’s stories, I think it’s definitely influenced my style and helped get me where I’m at today.

But it wasn’t until I left my job as a TV producer that I started to freelance and focus on getting those word counts in. Today as a freelance writer, I’m able to write regularly, and although I might have different projects going on, I do my best to focus on my Work in Progress whenever possible.

EEM: Have you ever based a loved protagonist or an evil villain on one of your co-workers? Wished you had?

LC: I haven’t based any of my characters on one of my co-workers. These days, I get most of my inspiration from my two boys. They constantly crack me up and have such a fresh take on the world. In fact, the idea for The Bug That Plagued the Entire Third Grade came to me when one of my sons had the flu. When everyone asked how he was doing, I would say, “He caught the bug.” It made me stop and wonder why we say that. Something clicked, so I expanded on the play on words of getting sick and catching an insect. Hence… “The Bug” was born.

EEM: What are you working on now and is the process any easier than your first work?? If so, in what capacity (people noticing it, the writing itself, the confidence?)

LC: I’m currently writing a contemporary young adult novel and, although it’s the second novel I’ve written, I don’t find the process any easier than the first because the subject matter is different, the characters are different and it’s a lot like starting from scratch. Although I constantly learn from what I read and write, I think as a writer you’re always learning.

EEM: Would you change anything if you could begin your writing journey over again?

LC: You live and you learn and everything you do stems from experience. I don’t know what I would do differently. I always say after the fact that I wished I did this or didn’t do that, but the truth is everything I’ve done so far has gotten me to this point and I definitely look forward to the road ahead.

EEM: Thank you for taking the time to answer these interview questions!

LC: Thank you so much for having me!


  1. Thanks so much for having me, Erin. I really enjoyed doing the interview--it was fun reliving some of my past job experiences! :)

    All the best,

  2. Great interview. Thanks for sharing and introducing us to this blog. I will tag it to follow.

  3. I enjoyed learning more about Lori Calabrese. Fascinating interview. Thanks for sharing it.

  4. Lori, Thanks so much for taking the time to reflect! It was a pleasure having you on the blog!

    Janet and Terri, thanks for stopping by!

  5. Loved hearing about your TV producer days, Lori. Great interview!