Deborah LeFalle is the author of Bitty Brown Babe. We chatted with her to learn more about the inspiration and process behind this sweet board book.
Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got started in writing.
I always liked to read and write as a child, and I remember having fun making up stories. As I progressed through school, other interests came into play and my passion for writing didn’t resurface until I was in my early thirties. Working full-time and raising two kids on my own, however, did not provide much time for me to write. I did manage to write a few poems and one children’s story back then, but those got shelved because I had no clue about the process of getting published. After I retired in 2011, I took a creative writing class, and that’s all I needed to restart my writing journey.
What led you to want to write for children?
When my children were very young, I would regularly take them to libraries and bookstores to browse the children’s section. At that time there were very few children’s books on the market featuring African American people as main characters. Having to search and search to find books about children that looked like them was very frustrating. So after I retired, I pulled out the first story I had written many years earlier and started editing it. In the last five years I’ve written more children’s stories, one of which is Bitty Brown Babe.
What inspired you to write this particular book?
My grandson was the inspiration for this book. When I visited him for the first time, he was just two months old, and I found myself in sheer awe marveling at the precious little human being in my arms. I had an a-ha moment right then to capture my special bonding experience in words. So, after I returned home, I started jotting down thoughts on paper––eventually ending up with a first draft in a matter of a few days. I knew I wanted to make it clear this was about a little brown-skin baby, thus the title “Bitty Brown Babe.”
What advice do you have for someone aspiring to write children’s books?
Be patient. Good writing takes time––it is a process. Even I have a tendency to want to see quick results, but trust me, investment in whatever time it takes to yield a good product pays off.
Be kind and grateful. Two of my favorite words are “please” and “thank you.” No matter how many rejections you get (and you will get them), always be appreciative you were given the opportunity to get your work out there. Even though you may be disappointed, view your rejection as a learning experience. Make it a practice (without fail) to always send a follow-up note thanking the editor/publisher for their time and consideration.
What projects do you have on the horizon?
I will continue sending off my other children’s book manuscripts that are waiting in the wings and creating new works as the spirit so leads me.
For more information about Bitty Brown Babe, click here.