Sandra Horning, Children’s Book Author

Where did you grow up and go to school?
I grew up outside of Reading, Pa. (which is about an hour west of Philadelphia). I am a graduate of Mt. Penn High School and Bryn Mawr College. Today I live in northeast Connecticut with my husband and two sons.

Who or what is your inspiration for your stories?
Most of my inspiration comes from whatever is going on in my life at the moment.
The Giant Hug was inspired by my young son giving hugs and my father working for the post office. Raising my pet chickens inspired me to write Chicks! (Check out the trailer my boys made me for Mother’s Day: Chicks! video).  The Biggest Pumpkin was inspired by  several nearby gardens and all the “biggest” vegetable contests at the agricultural fairs.

Do your chickens and ducks have names?
Of course!  The chickens are Little Goldie, Snow, Mary, Dotty, Winnie, Welsie, and Frenchie, a French Moran rooster. The ducks are Peter, Pansy, and Penny Puff (she has a puff of feathers on her head).

Have you always dreamed of being an author?
I’ve always loved to make up stories. In elementary school I used to write plays, fake news stories and commercials. My friends and I would act them out or tape record them (the tape recorder was high tech back then). In high school I wrote a short play for a variety show. In college, I did one of my senior projects on the changes in the Berenstein Bear books.  After college I worked in the children’s department of a book store. My favorite part of the job was handselling my favorite books and sorting through the new titles. Despite all that, I didn’t start dreaming of being an author until
my husband’s studies took us to County Galway, Ireland. While living in Ireland, I worked at a small software company and kept a daily journal and wrote letters and emails filled with stories of my Irish adventures. My dear friends loved my stories and encouraged me to keep writing. Finally, I realized how much I enjoyed writing and that it was what I should have been doing all along.

Is there any advice you would give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Read as many books as you can, and find a critique group or someone to read your work. Every Tuesday morning I meet with 10 published children’s authors.  We share our work and give supportive and constructive feedback to each other. There are many ups and downs on the path to publication. It’s important to have a support network to help keep you moving forward.

Do you have another job besides writing for children?
Yes, for many years I have been a copyeditor for several academic journals.  This past year I began a new job as the Library Director for my town’s small library. It’s very exciting to now have a job that directly ties in with my love of books!

What types of books do you like to read?
I read almost anything and usually have several books going at once.  I’m currently reading Miss Emily, by Nuala O’Connor, and
Why Did the Chicken Cross the World?: The Epic Saga of the Bird that Powers Civilization, by Andrew Lawler. I tend to read historical fiction and mysteries, but I can’t resist a chicken history book with a fabulous title.  In the car I’m listening to Rachel Hartman’s Shadow Scale and the Great Courses’ The Lost Worlds of South America.  I spend many hours driving my children to and from school and activities, so a book for the car is essential!