Q: First tell us something about yourself?
For 15 years I was an elementary music teacher, at a school in Southern California, and for the last 6 of those years I was also a Jr. High theater and culinary arts teacher, in addition to teaching elementary music. My husband decided to retire and wanted to travel the world, so we sold our house and most of our furniture and packed up the rest. We drove across the US in August 2022 and in September took off for Morocco. Since then, we’ve slept in 70 different beds and visited 11 different countries. We’ve stayed in a geodome, a cave, and even a castle! As I’m writing this, I’m in Oslo, Norway, headed off to Spain tomorrow!
Q: How and when did your journey start as a writer?
While I was teaching a first-grade music theory class in 2019, I asked my students to name a string instrument. One little girl raised her hand and said, “Carp” and I asked her if she knew what that was and she said it was a fish and then she said, “I’m sorry Mrs. Baker, I meant to say harp.” I told her it would be really funny if a carp played a harp! And then I asked her to draw a picture for me. She brought me that picture (you can see it on the dedication page) and I put it on my bulletin board. I decided to write a book that June, after school was out, and then it became a series of three books I wrote that summer. The first book, published in 2020, is called “In All of Your Days Have You Seen the Ways an Animal Plays an Instrument?”
Q: When did you write your first story? Is it published or not?
I wrote my first three books rather quickly, in the summer of 2019. I asked my daughter’s classmate who studied visual arts in high school and college to illustrate the book for me. She was still working on it in March of 2020 when I was able to go to my cousin’s wedding in Boston. I had just met a friend of my cousin who also was an illustrator and I jokingly said “I should write a new book and have you illustrate it, and it should be about this….cow.” I was literally scrolling through my photos and just being silly when I saw a picture of a cow that I had taken at my Grandmother’s farm the summer before. It looked like it had tried to cut its own bangs. It turns out there is a disease in cows that my Grandmother remembers giving a vaccine to her cows for, called Bang’s Disease. Well, that was enough inspiration for me to write “Gertrude the Cow Gets in Trouble Somehow.” What’s really interesting is, I actually wrote the entire rhyming story on my flight home from Boston! I guess it’s just easy for me to think in rhymes!
Q: Tell us something more about your books?
My third book to be published is one I actually ended up illustrating myself. It’s a book about a little boy who hears different sounds around the house and thinks it’s something else. One day at my house, I turned on my garbage disposal (it’s an under the sink machine that some houses have that “chews up” food scraps so they can go down the drain), and I was thinking that it sounded like a monster. So, I wrote a book about sounds, called “Mom, What’s That Sound?” It’s a fun interactive book where, on the first two pages, you see what the little boy imagines the sound to be. It’s fun for kids and parent to guess what they think the sound might actually be, then turn the page to see if they’re right. And in all of my books, I always hide something. My first book has a hidden music symbol on each two-page spread, my second book has a pair of scissors hidden on each two pages, and my newest book has a hidden letter “S” for sound on each crayon drawing of what the little boy thinks the sound is.
Q: Why do you choose kids as your reader ? is there any specific reason?
Being a teacher, I have always loved kids. Even before I had my two kids who are now 25 and 22, I loved playing with my nieces. I’m kind of afraid of adults. Kids are so easy to please! The most incredible sound is kid’s laughter and that’s my goal, to make kids laugh through storytime.
Q: How did these stories and characters come to your mind?
I’m pretty sure I’m a child trapped in an adult’s body. I love to use my imagination and with traveling for the past 8 months or so, I’ve actually come up with four more book ideas! I take real life things and turn them into stories. Or I use things that happened, like in my classroom, to make stories.
Q: Do you want to leave any message for your readers?
I would like to say thank you for reading about my author story. I’m sure you or someone young in your life will love one or all of my books. And like any actor who longs for applause at the end of a performance, please write a love note in the form of a review for any book you read, not just mine.