Interesting Intersections: An Interview with Mindy Alyse Weiss
Updated: Sep 24, 2021
Today, it's my honor and privilege that Mindy stopped by for an interview. This amazing author is always giving back to the writing community and was one of the first people to ever read my picture book. Mindy gives amazing critiques! You may also know her through her hashtags #PBParty for new draft challenges as well as the popular PB showcase of the same name. Additionally, she's uplifting writers each month in her PB Buzz picture book showcases.
I am so excited you’re here at Interesting Intersections! We look forward to hearing about your writing space and whatever intersectionalities you or your character share.
Thanks so much for your awesome interview questions, CK. I’m thrilled to be on your blog. 😊
Awwwws! You do so much for so many. I'm ecstatic you are here!
So authors always wonder what each other’s spaces look like. Can you give us a peek at your favorite writing space and how it inspires you or why you chose it?
I had hoped to make my space look nicer before sharing it (yes, I’m a bit embarrassed) but this is how it typically looks.
In the first picture, you can see the corner where I spend most of my days and nights. When my final desktop computer died in 2012 (in the middle of NaNoWriMo—yikes!) I ended up getting a laptop. I missed my huge monitor and ergonomic keyboard and mouse so much, someone helped me set it up under my desk, so it still looks and feels like my old set-up. I definitely work much faster this way than on my laptop.
The adorable sparkly purse used to hang out exactly where it is until my monitor died less than a year ago. My new one is larger, so it covers the corner. I keep it peeking out of the slot over the monitor and bring it down when I can use a smile. An awesome friend and CP gave it to me when I signed with my agent for my PB, GLITTER GIRL.
That’s my rescue pup, Ruby, as my screen saver. Such a sweet pup! There are several helpful or encouraging sticky notes sprinkled around (some with teeth marks or rips from our rescue cat).
To the right is a picture my daughter drew for me a while back (I have another one on my office door).
Here’s a close-up of the stickies to the right of me.
Okay, I’m cringing at sharing this without making it look nicer (and more sparkly)! The newest stickies sparkle (which makes me smile). On the far left are my words for the year. Bloom is this year, Believe was 2020 (which worked because I signed with my agent) and Thrive was 2019. When I signed with the amazing Joyce Sweeney, it didn’t feel real after all my hard work…so I wrote the Super Agent Joyce sticky note and never took it down, even though it feels very real now.
My older daughter caught me questioning whether a writing opportunity would result in a YES, so she had me write down what Demi Lovato says to herself before going on stage…I AM ENOUGH. She had me doodle on it, too. I like the saying a lot, but realized there was something even more important to me…I MATTER. So I added that, too.
Under that, you’ll see part of the heart-shaped sticky my rescue cat found irresistibly delicious with the next #PBParty Critique Train date. It’s Thursday, September 23 EST if you’d love the motivation to write a new picture book draft…then can hop on the Critique Train to give and receive a critique.
I love your space!!! And you know how much I adore your words. You even helped me find some of mine when I was feeling a bit blue. It's such a great way to give some affirmation. And your puppers gives me life. So glad Ruby is on the mend!
Now, we’re dying to know about you and, if you are willing to share, your intersections.
Sure! I’m happy to share. Although, I have to admit I’ve never really thought of myself in this way before. I suppose the intersections people know the most are cis Jewish woman with major hearing loss.
Sometime after having my daughters, I developed anxiety—especially when driving to unfamiliar places or ones with extremely busy highways or difficult parking. And when life gets difficult, I’ve had moments of depression, too. Wow, this is so scary to share. But I know how much it helps to know you aren’t alone. That’s what I hope many of my books will do for children. But somehow saying this in an interview makes me feel like that nightmare where you suddenly realize you’re naked in the middle of school. Yikes!
I’ve worked hard on my anxiety and self-worth, and have done my best to find ways to give myself a hug when there’s nobody around to give me one (especially the last year and a half—before Covid, I had tons of uplifting hugs from my writing friends and miss them so much). I also lost both parents and my only sibling way too young, so grief has worked its way into several picture books and a middle grade novel, too. If difficult things I’ve been through can help others, having something good come from them feels like such a gift.
Your intersections are so very beautiful! Thank you for letting us learn more about you. And I feel you on a couple of these. I'm sure people will read your words and they will give them hope. It's so hard to share sometimes. We are all so sorry for your losses. I hope your books on grief make their way into the world to help others who experience the loss of loved ones. We need more books on this topic.
May I ask if the plot of your current book or your main character mirrors you in any way?
Some of the picture books and middle grade novels I’ve written have aspects that clearly mirror me…but I was surprised to discover that even a funny, absurd picture book with a cupcake main character has tons in common with me. It added so much heart when I realized Cupcake was afraid the outside world would ruin her frosting, revealing the bumps and crumbly clumps hiding underneath. It reminded me of being embarrassed to wear hearing aids at first. They felt like a huge, neon sign that I attempted to hide behind my hair. It took a while to realize they’re way too important to hide. They help me hear. And I shouldn’t be ashamed of them. Both Cupcake and I learned that we shouldn’t let what we perceive as flaws get in the way of our having fun and truly being ourselves.
I love the sound of this book so very much! And what a great use of figurative language to show both anxiety and hearing loss. This sounds like a winner of a book for sure. I can't wait until someone snaps it up! We need more books like this being published because kids identify so much with people who mirror their experiences.
Speaking of mirroring, who is one intersectional author you find inspirational and why?
There are so many intersectional authors I admire…but I choose the incredibly talented author/illustrator, Salina Yoon. I adore her picture books, and fell in love with BE A FRIEND the moment I read it.
It took a while to realize why I love it so much (in addition to it being an incredible story with amazing, creative illustrations). Dennis is a mime who feels like there’s a wall between him and the rest of the world. That’s how my hearing loss makes me feel at times, especially if people around me are talking or laughing and I have no idea what’s going on. Some family members get so annoyed with me asking them to repeat things, they just say “forget it” or “it’s not important.” Ouch! It hurts so much to feel like I’m on the outside, missing out on fun times with my family. I love how Joy breaks through the wall in Salina’s book, so Dennis is no longer alone. I wish everyone in my life would take the time and effort to make sure there aren’t walls between us.
I agree this book is absolutely incredible!! I'm so glad you were able to find pieces of it that echoed how you feel when people don't understand your hearing loss. I wish for you also that people take time and effort to make you feel included just as you make everyone else feel this way. That's one of the reasons I adore you so very much. You are a champion of writers everywhere!
Here is Salina's book with a blurb! If you don't win, then definitely go out and buy your copy and follow this awesome author on Twitter @Salinayoon!
Dennis is an ordinary boy who expresses himself in extraordinary ways. Some children do show-and-tell. Dennis mimes his. Some children climb trees. Dennis is happy to BE a tree . . . But being a mime can be lonely. It isn't until Dennis meets a girl named Joy that he discovers the power of friendship--and how special he truly is! --via Amazon
For people who don't already know Mindy, here are the socials. She is an amazing person to follow. (Follow her...like, right away if you can!)
PB Buzz monthly list of new picture books and what I like/love about them
Annnnnnnd there are two prizes up for grabs (U.S. only, please)
Prize 1 is a copy of BE A FRIEND by Salina Yoon.
Prize 2 is a Picture Book critique by Mindy OR a half-hour Zoom session!
Since I am horrible with Rafflecopter (my fault, not Rafflecopter's), all you need to do to qualify is
ONE of the following:
*Comment on this post with love for Mindy as well as the prize you would like to receive.
*Comment on the Twitter post with the prize you would like to receive.
*Quote Tweet the original post pinned to my profile with the prize you would like to receive.
*Retweet the posts from anyone and comment on the prize you would like to receive.
Winners will be chosen on Friday, September 25th and announced on Saturday, September 26th.