Posted by: nancyisanders | August 10, 2012

Author Interview: Jody Jensen Shaffer

Meet Author Jody Jensen Shaffer!
Blog: Just Kidding: On Writing for Kids and Other Life Stuff

Jody Jensen Shaffer is a poet and the author of several fiction and nonfiction books for children. Her magazine work has been featured in Highlights High Five, Babybug, Turtle, Humpty Dumpty, COLUMBIAKids, and coming soon in Highlights, Hello, and Clubhouse Jr. Jody lives in Missouri with her husband, two kids, and dog.

Featured Books:
Stars of Today: Lea Michele
Stars of Today: Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson
Stars of Today: Taylor Swift
Stars of Today: Taylor Lautner

These photo-illustrated picture books from The Child’s World feature popular entertainers that children will recognize. Each book follows the life of its star from childhood through today.

Q: How did you break into writing biographies for kids?
I owe my introduction to biography writing to Patricia Stockland, former Editorial Director of Red Line Editorial and current Editorial Director of Lerner. I had written two social studies books for Patricia, published by The Child’s World. When she asked if I’d be interested in writing some celebrity biographies, I jumped at the chance. Writing four biographies for The Child’s World helped me land more celebrity biography-writing jobs for other publishers.

Q: Describe the research process it takes to write a book about a current celebrity.
Researching a current celebrity is a lot of fun, but it also has its challenges. The internet is a vast source of information about celebrities, some of it reliable, some not. So I found reliable sources, like trusted newspapers and online magazines, that had interviewed my subjects. I was able to quote directly from the stars’ own words. I also found youtube videos of my subjects giving interviews. Finally, my local library subscribes to many searchable research databases, like Biographies in Context, which I used as well.

The challenging part about writing about a current star is that they’re still living! And every day that goes by, there’s more to write about! Thank goodness I had deadlines, or I might never have finished those books!

Q: Describe your typical writing schedule.
During the schoolyear, I get my kids to school then sit down at my computer. I work until it’s time to pick them up at the end of the day. Summers are a lot spottier in terms of my writing time, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love summers with my kids!

Q: Share one word of advice you’d like to give to a children’s author who wants to write biographies of famous people.
Use reliable sources! (Oops, that’s three.)


  1. The early bird gets to leave the first comment! Tweet! Great interview, ladies. Jody is a great writer (and critique partner) and it’s always nice to get an inside glimpse into how a successful author (and busy mom) manages her time so effectively and prolifically.

  2. Great interview!

  3. Nice interview, Jody & Nancy! I just read about writing biographies on the ICL guest speaker this wkend, and so this was a nice treat also reading almost the same methods from you!

  4. Jody, it’s so great to have you featured here on my blog today. Congratulations on getting these picture books published in today’s tough market…what a great example and inspiration you are to us as writers!!! -Nancy

  5. I enjoyed the interview very much, Jody and Nancy! Congratulations to you on all your books, Jody. I’m impressed with all you’ve accomplished.

  6. Thanks for interviewing me, Nancy! And thanks to all who commented. All the best with your writing projects!

  7. Great interview. Congratulation on all of your successes, Jody!

  8. Nice to ‘see’ you both here 🙂

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