Author Naomi Danis brings families together over the love of books and thoughtful messages. Her stories, written with uplifting the child in mind, are so thoughtful to what is important to kids, and adults, and weaves these topics into engaging books that will be passed down from generation to generation. Naomi likes to think all her books are really about love even if they don’t always use that word.
Most likely in May 2021, she’ll have a very young children’s picture book, Bye Car coming out from Child’s Play International. It’s inspired by the universal childhood fascination with vehicles, traffic, movement, motion and commotion, and includes also green means of transportation in the hope that we will find ways to care for our earth for future generations.
She lives in Forest Hills, New York, and while she doesn’t have any pets, she loves people with all their mixed-up feelings. And she is also incredibly kind. I know this for a fact and as a testament, she has given us a peek into her world with this Author Q&A. So, let’s meet Naomi!
You are an author, but is it your day job? I recently retired as managing editor of the nonprofit quarterly Lilith magazine (tagline: “independent, Jewish & frankly feminist”), where I was fortunate to work for 32 years. My plan is to devote myself to more writing for kids.
Did you always want to be an author? Yes! When I was ten years old, I wrote a memoir about my 18-day hospitalization for an appendectomy and peritonitis. I submitted it to a correspondence course on writing for kids and got my first encouraging rejection slip.
What is your most recent book and what inspired you to write it? My picture book, My Best Friend, Sometimes, which came out in May 2020, was inspired by something I misremembered that my youngest child told me about 30 years ago, and it is informed by my own early best friend challenges.
How do you hope your book uplifts those who read it? I hope they will see that they are not alone in experiencing that friendships, while very rewarding, aren’t always easy. Sometimes we and our friends, even our best friends, like each other and sometimes we don’t.
What are you most excited about with this book? I am thrilled to have had three new picture books, all with years-long gestation times, come out three years in a row. My editor Jordan Nielsen at POW Kids books, a small boutique publisher in Brooklyn, NY, matched me with wonderful artists and invited Cinta Arribas, who illustrated my book I Hate Everyone, to illustrate this one too. When a picture book is done well the illustrations enrich it with a complementary story of their own.
How do you handle setbacks and criticism? I have collected hundreds of rejections over a period of decades and I have learned not to surrender to feeling discouraged. When an editor takes the time to give me specific feedback, I feel honored. In my experience, persistence—not giving up— is a requirement for being a writer.
How do you hold yourself accountable and achieve the goals that you set forth? In all honesty, I try to be kind to myself, just as I try to be kind to others. Even today I am forgiving myself for not responding immediately to your questions! Many good things in art, as in life, take time and are worth waiting for.
What do you find most fulfilling in the career that you’ve chosen? I love hearing from families that they find reading my books meaningful or that one of my books is a new favorite. One mom wrote to me that her family is going through a painful divorce and her young son is angry and at the same time wants to cuddle. She thanked me because my book I Hate Everyone—which they found in a library, and which her son asked her to read to him again and again—made them both feel a little normal.
What book uplifts you? Some wonderful books are disturbing and uplifting at the same time. Recent such books I’ve read are: The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas, Feed by M.T. Anderson, and The Talk: Conversations about Race, Love & Truth edited by Wade Hudson and Cheryl Will Hudson.
Learn more about Naomi and grab your copies of her books at naomidanis.com.
Images Courtesy of Naomi Danis
Photo Credit Joan Roth