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Baby Chomper’s Bath Time by Jeff Minich
One day, baby Chomper escapes from home and gets muddy and stinky beyond belief. He rolls in the mud, dives in the trash, and even gets sprayed by a stinky skunk. After returning home, he finds that it’s his least favorite time of all: BATH TIME! With nowhere else to go, Chomper realizes that bath time can be one of the most fun times of all! He imagines himself diving into the deep blue sea, being the captain of his own ship, and surfing to a faraway shore.
Baby Chomper’s Bath Time is a playful story that encourages children to see the bright side of every situation.
Interview with Jeff Minich
1 – How did Nuggies come about?
A few years ago, I had the idea of writing a book of advice to my younger self. You know, a kind of checklist of virtues and advice that might have helped make my life journey a little easier. After kicking that idea around, I realized that my younger self would have been very unlikely to listen to any adult advice! I would need to go way back, to early childhood to really have an impact. At the same time, I had this cute dog named Chomper who was such an incredibly smart and cute little character. I thought some of his developmental experiences as a puppy could be written in a very relatable way to express to kids some of the virtues I was interested in writing about—things like patience, kindness, open-mindedness, and, from my latest book BABY CHOMPER’S BATH TIME, optimism.
2 – How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Well, I can’t really say that I had a process before writing the first book. With the release of my sixth book, BABY CHOMPER’S BATH TIME, I can say my process has evolved quite a bit. My process starts with a spark of an idea. With my last book, IF I COULD CLIMB TREES, I saw the story in a flash when my dog, Coco, was obsessing over a squirrel in a tree in our backyard. From the initial idea, I usually take some notes and then wait for the images and ideas to come! It generally takes a few months for the full story arc to develop and then I really start writing. When I write the first draft, I like to have a lot of clear mental space, so I usually block a week off my calendar and travel somewhere solo. You only get about 400 words in picture books, so it really it almost becomes a process of elimination— what are the most important ideas and scenes needed to carry the story along? You can’t explain everything that’s happening in the story (the illustrations do most of the work), so your writing has to do just enough to pull your young readers into this world you’re creating. Kids are impatient, so the hardest part of writing for them is to eliminate anything extraneous or artificial sounding. I would say that I’m getting much better at that aspect of writing… netting down the words so that they serve as a soft narrative over the illustrations. Once the final draft is finished, Renan develops some sketches and we refine the text a bit more to match the flow of the illustrations. That’s our process in a nutshell!
3 – If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I am still a part-time author. My day job is in Digital Advertising, where I work with data and other nerdy stuff. It’s much more of a left-brain type of work, so writing gives me an outlet to exercise the creative side of my brain. I absolutely love it for that… it leaves me feeling creatively fulfilled and gives me a wonderful sense of purpose.
4 – How long on average, does it take you to write a book?
On average, it takes about four to six months from the time I write the first outline. Getting to the first outline, however, can take months or even years. I have story ideas on the shelf that have been there for quite a long time. I wish I had more control over the story gestation process because I could probably crank out a few books each year. That said, Renan (my illustrator) and I have done two books this year. We were actually planning to finish Baby Chomper’s Bath Time in the spring of 2018 but got into a really strong creative flow that allowed us to push the timeline up a few months. Sometimes the creative wheels get turning and things really flow easily, sometimes they don’t… you just never know!
5 – Do you have any pets?
Yes! My dogs Chomper and Coco are the inspiration (and main characters) for the Nuggies series. The stories really do come from them and they inspire me every day!
6 – What advice would you give kids who would like to write a book one day?
First, read, a lot! Good input will generate good output. Next, write, a lot! Practice really makes perfect. Write in your journal, write about your experiences and… write about what you think others are experiencing. Stepping outside of your own personal perspective is the key to great story-telling.
7 – Can you give us a hint on the next Nuggies book?
The last book, If I Could Climb Trees, and this new book, Baby Chomper’s Bath Time, have featured Coco and Chomper’s characters in solo action in each book. I have a really great story idea that brings them back together in present-day and sets them off an unexpected new adventure. I can’t say much more than that for now! I also have some ideas for future books that will bring back characters like Gigi (from vol. 4, Oui Oui, Gigi!) and Pumpkin (from vol. 3, A Very Scary Pumpkin). Those characters were so much fun and I can’t wait to see what happens next with them!
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