Deborah Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and nutritionist who divides her time between writing adult novels and children’s books. She has been a regular contributor to The New York Times covering health and fitness stories, consumer issues, and travel, including four years as the Sunday New York Times Magazine beauty columnist. She has also been a home design columnist for New York Newsday. Her stories have appeared widely in many other newspapers and national magazines including The Daily News, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Bazaar, Cosmopolitan Woman’s Day, Family Circle, Self, and Vogue.
Deborah is the author of numerous picture books, including Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair (Dial Books, 2001) with illustrations by Mary GrandPre of Harry Potter fame, as well as young adult, adult, and non-fiction titles.
I’m pleased to welcome Deborah and share her thoughts about writing.
Tell me about your book, Aunt Claire’s Yellow Bee Hive Hair?
It’s the story of a Jewish girl and her grandmother who spend a rainy afternoon gathering together old family pictures and memorabilia to create a family memory book, “to keep the past alive, so that it will never be forgotten.”
What inspired this story?
All my memories of spending weekends at my grandparents’ apartment in the Bronx looking through their picture album and thinking about all the relatives I never met or knew much about.
You have written books in many genres. Do you have a favorite genre?
Right now I’m enjoying writing young adult novels, but I’m always thinking of new ideas for picture books and adult novels too.
How did you become a children’s writer?
I never planned to, but one day after a playdate that lasted too long my daughter was overtired and had a terrible temper tantrum. I went home, fed her lunch and put her in for a nap. After that I sat down at the typewriter — because back then I worked on a typewriter — and tried to figure out what happened. It turned into a picture book: “The Chocolate-Covered-Cookie Tantrum.”
Do you have any other Jewish-themed books?
So far, only “Aunt Claire’s Yellow Beehive Hair.”
Any new books coming out?
My latest picture book, published February/2008 by HarperCollins with illustrations by Denise Brunkus of Junie B. Jones fame, is “Charlie Hits it Big,” the story of a little guinea pig with big dreams who runs off to Hollywood where he finds out about stardom and much more.
What are you working on now?
I just finished another young adult novel, and have an idea for an adult novel.
Deborah, your career is an inspiration! Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk about your work.