When you hear a good song, or take a bite of your favorite food, you have to stop whatever you’re doing because it affects your being. She explains that feeling comes to her when she reads something amazing. The reason Mucha writes is because the thought of having someone else’s soul shivering when they read her work is irresistible!
Her debut, A Girl’s Bill Of Rights, comes out in February. It’s a moving picture book that will empower you with confidence. I really liked the book! When I asked Mucha what inspired her to write it, she said it was herself! She wrote herself a list of her rights after she was tired of thinking she wasn’t allowed to express herself or her opinions. Amy Mucha then showed her “Bill Of Rights” to a publisher who wanted to help make it into a book.
Read the full interview below!
Question: What inspired you to write A Girl’s Bill Of Rights?
Answer: … me! In the past, I was the type of person who, if someone disagreed with me, would sort of shrink inside and assume my opinion must be wrong. Or if someone made fun of me for crying too easily or getting too excited, I would assume they were right and something must wrong with me. Finally, one night many years ago, I decided I’d had enough. I wanted to make a change and start standing up for myself, so I sat down and wrote myself a pledge. I made a list of my rights and read them out loud, then signed my name to the end. And what do you know? It helped! I still had to change my actions, too, of course. But that pledge gave me the courage to start, and the drive to keep at it. It was many years later that I wondered if it might help others, too. And voila!
Q: Why should girls read this book?
A: It’s a funny thing, but I think most girls are born knowing their rights. Have you ever seen a toddler throw a fit? She’s not afraid to show her feelings or opinions! But somewhere along the way, often in middle school, girls often learn to hide themselves, push their feelings down, and put others first. I’m hoping that by reading A Girl’s Bill of Rights, young girls can learn to hold onto that feeling they were born with, that they have the right to feel what they feel and think what they think. Maybe if they read these words when they are still little, the pledge will help them stay strong when they get older and someone tries to put them down or make them feel small.
Q: What was the process in publishing A Girl’s Bill Of Rights? (How long did it take, how did you pick the illustrator, etc…)
A: I didn’t think of turning my pledge into a picture book until there was a “pitch event” one day on Twitter. A pitch event is where you write one sentence about your book, and if a publisher likes it, they can ask to see the book and make an offer on it. I looked at A Girl’s Bill of Rights and thought, hey, why not? And it worked! The publisher “Beaming Books” saw it, liked it, and made an offer just a few weeks later. I was even more excited when I found out who they picked to be my illustrator. Most readers don’t know this, but writers hardly ever get to choose the illustrators. The illustrators are assigned by the publisher. But I got SO lucky: My illustrator is the amazing Addy Rivera Sonda! She is just exactly who I would have wanted. All I did was write the words; it was Addy who came up with the characters, decided what they would look like and how they would interact. I am so grateful that she made the book what it is.
Q: Why do you love to write?
A: Have you ever heard a REALLY good song, so good you have to stop whatever you’re doing because you’ve got chills rippling all over your entire body? Or have you ever taken that first bite of a warm, gooey, chocolatey dessert and it’s so good the only thing you can do is sit there with the spoon in your mouth, with your brain just fizzing over with the sheer yumminess of it? That’s exactly how it feels for me when it comes to a poem, or a picture book, or a paragraph, where every line has exactly the right word in exactly the right spot. It sets my whole soul thrilling with chills rippling all the way up my scalp. Now, I should explain that the day-to-day writing itself is nothing like that. Most days I’ll be frowning at my computer screen thinking, “Why on earth am I doing this? This is too hard. I must be nuts!” But the idea that I might one day be able to write something that will set someone’s soul to shivering? Irresistible.
Q: What advice do you have for young authors who want to one day be published too?
Go for it! Don’t worry if it’s good or bad, just get the words on paper. And, of course, read! When you find something that gives you that WOW feeling, circle it, star it, or highlight it. Or, if it’s a library book or you’re not allowed to mark up your books, then copy it into a notebook. Going back and reading favorite passages is like talking to your best friend or playing a favorite song. And in just the same way, you’ll keep noticing different things about it. A really good passage never gets old. It can start to take on layers and sometimes whole worlds of new meanings. That depth and richness is one of the great rewards of reading.
Q: What quote/verse/mantra motivates you to keep doing what you’re doing?
A: “It’s OK to make mistakes.”
Q: I read that you love chocolate. What’s your favorite kind?
A: Guess what exists right in the middle of the town where I live? A bookstore AND chocolate shop, in one! Can you believe? It sounds too good to be true, but it’s real. It’s called Epilogue and right now my favorite would have to be anything sold by them. YUM!
Q: What are you reading now?
A: I just had the honor of having a very early peek at A History of Me by Adrea Theodore, a picture book that is coming out in January 2022. I can’t even express how totally gorgeous it is. It is definitely one of those “every word in the right place” books that had me feeling chills. I can’t wait for you to be able to read it!
Q: What books do you like to read to your kids?
A: My kids are teenagers now, but when they were little, my son’s favorite was Mem Fox’s Where Is the Green Sheep, and my daughter loved anything with a cute kitten or puppy in it. Her favorite might have been Kitten’s First Full Moon by Kevin Henkes.
Q: In your book, the illustrations represent a lot of diversity. Why do you think it’s important for kids to see themselves in the books they read?
A: Both my kids went to an elementary school where only about half the kids spoke English as a first language. My son had a friend from every single continent in one class! (Well, not including Antarctica – there were no penguins in his class, lol.) So to me and my kids, not having diverse characters would have felt plain weird. So when my publisher picked Addy Rivera Sonda as my illustrator, I was SO excited, because I knew she would take care of that without me ever asking. And did she! She didn’t just draw characters of different ethnicities, but different abilities and gender norms, too. My daughter got a huge smile when she saw the character with short hair dressed “like a boy.” “Hey,” she said. “This one looks like me!” Hooray for Addy is all I can say to that!