Crocodaddy by Kim Norman (Day Two of Three)

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Today I’m going to share an interview I (C) did with the author, Kim Norman (KN). After that is some basic author info for you and some links. Kim is pictured at left.

C: Did you ever write books as a child?

KN: I remember I did once. I don’t remember how old I was. Couldn’t have been more than 1st or 2nd grade. I made this little book out of folded sheets of paper and wrote a story. Told my brother I’d written a book. He was older, maybe 10 or so, and he told me that a book had to be MUCH longer than that. I realized he was right, and never tried it again during my childhood. Too bad I let myself be so easily discouraged. I might have become a prodigy!

I did do other forms of writing, though, and it’s clear if you read my report cards that my teachers were always impressed with my writing. So I’m not sure how I ended up a graphic artist, because they never really commented on my brilliant artistic ability. Oh well, if I’d gone into a writing profession, say journalism, I might well have burned out early and might never have discovered my love of children’s books, which I rediscovered when I became a mother.

C: When did you come up with the idea for Crocodaddy? Did it just come to you or did it require lots of brainstorming?

KN: The name was used for a pretend game in our backyard pool. I’m not even sure who coined the name, me, my husband or one of my kids. Probably me, but I’m just not sure. It definitely took a while, thinking about the name during my morning walks, for any sort of story to evolve. And it took even longer for the refrain (“Crocodaddy, Crocodaddy…”) to emerge. I always try to keep my picture book revisions in a single notebook until I’m ready to type them up. I don’t always manage that because I lose notebooks around the house and end up writing in more than one book. But somehow I managed to keep all the drafts of Crocodaddy in one notebook, which I’m glad about, because it allowed me to look back and see the evolution of the story. I had always thought I remembered finding the refrain first. But when I looked through the notebook, I realized I’d written a couple of earlier versions, sans refrain. One version was strong in terms of rhyme and language, but my critique group thought it might be too scary for toddlers. It was after THAT, during a walk, that the bouncy refrain came to me. Somehow the refrain lightened the mood of the piece, and then, of course, David Walker’s delightful illustrations turned it to pure delight.

C: Why did you choose a crocodile instead of another animal to represent the daddy?

KN: Oh that was definitely because of the sound of the word. I love wordplay. The “D” sound in crocodile just merged so nicely with the opening consonant of “daddy.” Put them together, and you’ve got the perfect, kid-friendly water creature!

C: Did you/do you have a good relationship with your dad?

KN: Oh yes, I adored my father. He was definitely a Crocodaddy at heart, although we hadn’t invented the word when I was a child. There was nothing more fun to my siblings and me than roughhousing with my dad with him in a pool or — better yet — in Kezar Lake in Maine, where we often spent our vacations. He was a big man, about 6 foot 4, so the most precarious fun of all was sitting on his shoulders as he pretended to stagger around in the water.

C: I’ve always heard you should write what you know. Why did you choose to make the child a boy in the story instead of a girl?

KN: Yes, that was definitely a case of writing what I know. I have two sons, no daughters, so the yellow Labrador retriever and I are the only girls in the household!

C: What are your plans for the future?

KN: Simply more and more and more books! I have resolved that I WILL finish writing that novel I’ve dabbled at for too long. Picture books are easier for me, because they’re so compact. When I’m writing a novel, it feels a bit like wandering around in a strange land without a map. Also, I have an “evil inner editor” who tends to natter more loudly when I’m writing longer works. But I am resolved to squelch her and finish that novel!

C: I just want to add a big thanks to Kim Norman for letting me ask her some questions.

Author Kim Norman’s first picture book, JACK OF ALL TAILS, was released by Dutton, a Penguin imprint, in 2007. CROCODADDY, (Sterling, a subsidiary of Barnes & Noble), makes its grand debut in May. She is looking forward to the release of two titles in 2010: I KNOW A WEE PIGGY WHO WALLOWED IN BROWN, illustrated by Henry Cole, (Dutton); and TEN ON THE SLED, (Sterling.)

Kim is active in community theater and her church’s music program. (She loves pretending she’s a pop star singing into a mic for the praise & worship service.) She lives in Virginia with her husband, (the REAL Crocodaddy), two sons, a dog and a cat.

You can Buy the Book or visit Kim Norman’s homepage. Come back tomorrow for a giveaway!

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.