I spent most of my first eighteen years on a farm outside the small town of Victoria, Kansas (population: 1,208). My roles included gathering the eggs when the city cousins visited and wanted to engage in novelty farm-like activities, chasing pigs back to their respective pens when they tried to make a break for it (I did this once while wearing my eighth grade cheer-leading uniform—don’t ask), and swindling my younger sister and brother out of their money.
I graduated from Kansas State University with a B.S. in Elementary Education and married my high school sweetheart, Ron Sauer. We did not return to Victoria, causing the town’s population to plummet to 1,206.
I have taught summer school, pre-kindergarten, and the middle school electives Creative Writing and Storytelling. I also spent two years serving as a library media specialist for a pre-k through eighth grade school.
Each day I try to squeeze in some time for writing as writing is my passion. Most of the time, however, is spent with my family. Ron and I have a twelve-year-old daughter, Julia, who aspires to be an veterinarian and a nine-year-old son Mason who loves everything ninja. To learn more, visit my website.
Let the conversation begin!
What initially drew you to writing?
Receiving mail! When I was a kid, I wrote lots of letters—especially to celebrities. I used to have a huge collection of 8 by 10 glossies of stars from the early eighties, including Loni Anderson and Barbara Mandrell. By middle school, I had left the fan mail scene behind and joined a penpal club. Soon I was regularly exchanging letters with Victor from Virginia Beach, Michelle from New York, and Lindsay from Great Britain. Twenty-four years later, I’m still in contact with two of them. Victor even traveled across the country to attend my wedding!
I never set out to be a children’s book author, though. My plan was to be a third grade teacher. One of my professors at Kansas State University changed all that. After class one day, Dr. Marjorie Hancock pulled me aside and said, “Tammi, you have a gift with words. You should pursue publication.” Knowing Dr. Hancock believed in me was the push I needed to give it a try. Years later, I named a chicken after her. (Marge in Chicken Dance.)
What was your favorite book to write?
Oh, this is hard! If I had to pick my favorite book to write, I would go with Me Want Pet. It was so fun to incorporate caveman-speak into the manuscript! Plus, it really pushed me to write as tightly as possible—the manuscript came in at about 250 words. Me Want Pet stars a cave boy in pursuit of the perfect prehistoric pet. This book is illustrated by Bob Shea (!!!) and is scheduled for a spring 2012 release. OOGA!
Where do you get your ideas?
Most of my ideas spring from the weird things that happen in my life. One night, for example, the idea for Cowboy Camp literally knocked on my door. A kid was selling newspaper subscriptions so he could raise money to go to cowboy camp. Well, this kid didn’t look like a cowboy, act like a cowboy, walk like a cowboy…he was practically the un-cowboy standing on my porch. And it gave me the idea to write a story about a kid who goes to cowboy camp, who doesn’t fit in, who can’t do anything right, but who becomes the hero at cowboy camp anyway.
The original seed for Chicken Dance came from an annoying rooster that repeatedly interrupted my sleep during a trip to Massachusetts. The uppity character in Mr. Duck Means Business was based on my Great Aunt Florence and her love for her manicured lawn.
No matter where the idea comes from, my books all have one thing in common. I always strive to push the funny.