Interview with Award-Winning Author Amalia Hoffman

Cover imageGet to know Amalia…

Amalia Hoffman is the author and illustrator of The Klezmer Bunch and Purim Goodies published by Gefen Publishing House. She also illustrated Friday Night with the Pope, written by Jacques J.M. Shore. Amalia created an over-sized hand made book as a prop  for the Train Theater in Jerusalem, Israel for a children’s play production of The Sleeping Rose.

She designed the book as a pop-up book where the actors pull cut up elements from its pages. Her book, The Klezmer Bunch was featured in a play by choreographer and producer, Elizabeth Swados.

She received the prestigious Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators award for picture books illustration in the category of Fantasy in 2007 and was voted as winner at the 21st Centurt Nonfiction Children Book Conference in 2014.

She tells her stories with the aid of enlarged cut-out illustrations from her books, props, puppets, costumes and music. Each performance is carefully planned according to a specific age group where children are encouraged to sing along and participate.

She was a finalist in The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators 2007 storytelling competition. She teaches writing and illustrating picture books at Greenwich, Scarsdale and Mamaroneck adult education.

Amalia exhibited widely in galleries and museums and created innovative window displays for many of New York City’s leading stores. Her art is included in the permanent collections of the New York City Public Library and the senate offices in Washington DC.

Amalia holds a Masters degree in art and art education from New York University and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, with honors from Pratt Institute. For more information, visit her website.

Quirky Questions 

At the end of a scrumptious Chinese meal, what would you like your fortune to read?

You’ll get a book contract next week.

What is one thing you refuse to share?

My teddy bear. I sleep with him every night.

What one word describes your stomach?

Always ready for more food. 

Writing Questions

How did you pick your writing genre?

I was always a painter, so it was natural for me to start my career working on picture books. As I went on, I discovered I also love writing so now I am also working on YA and MG.

What life experiences have inspired your work?

My childhood. In particular, growing up with two sisters in Israel.

How do you know when a book is finished?

When I have something I’d like to read myself.

Why were you drawn to a career in writing rather than a job that offers more stability?

I think writing and illustrating gave me more stability then any secure job. True, it doesn’t pay that much but when I write and illustrate, I feel whole, excited. I can’t wait to get up and start my creative day and I can’t stop and go to bed before 1 or 2 am. Besides, now that I have a few published books, I started a whole new career doing author’s visits in schools, libraries, book fairs etc. and I get paid for my presentations. I have a wonderful time dressing up in costumes and performing my stories in front of the best audience ever: children.

Who do you consider a literary genius?

I love Shaun Tan. He doesn’t use too many words, but I think he’s a wonderful storyteller.

What obstacles have you had to deal with in your career?

Time! It seems to disappear so quickly. I need a 34 hour day to accomplish all I want to do in a day.

What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?

I walk a lot. I have a wonderful park by the sound, about 2 miles away. I sit there on a rock and dream.

Can you share some words of wisdom for someone starting out in the field of writing?

Get up in the morning and start! Never, never, never think that it won’t happen! Go to conferences and mingle. Meet other people who are passionate about writing.

How would you define creativity?

Passion Juice. That energy and drive that ignites us to do what we love to do.

What impact (good or bad) do you think the media has had on your work?

I try not to be influenced by the media because I don’t really want to do what the market dictates or what the media guesses will sell. I do however participate in social media as a means of keeping in touch and communicating with people.

When did you know for certain that you wanted to pursue a career in writing?

As a child, I kept a diary and wrote a lot. As an adult, I started writing about 10 years ago and never regretted it.

What traits do creative people have compared to people who are not creative?

Passion, energy and enthusiasm.

Do your personal expectations limit your creativity? 

I try not to think in terms of expectations. I do set goals but just like everything else in life, they don’t always happen the way I envisioned. So, I go with the flow and keep working.

Do you censor your creativity so you don’t offend anyone?

I never really encountered a situation where I felt that I was touching on a “sensitive” subject, but if I did and felt it was absolutely important to say something, I probably would.

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