Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #47: Author/Blogger Liz Garton Scanlon (In Ink & At 7-Imp)

h1 September 24th, 2007 by Eisha and Jules

We’re happy to have a cyber-visit today from author and blogger Elizabeth Garton Scanlon, who pens with her cyber-ink the most thoughtful and insightful posts over at her LiveJournal, Liz In Ink (“Technology makes me nervous so I thought if I used ‘ink’ in the title I could fool myself into thinking this was plain ol’ fashioned journal writing. Nothin’ to it. Ha,” she told us about the blog’s title).

It is really difficult to pick out the best posts over at Liz In Ink, because we fear we’ll leave too many out. Liz’s posts are consistently good, and when you take the time to visit, it feels like you have just stopped to have a brief visit with a friend over tea or coffee (or perhaps one impossible breakfast), slowing down to take a breath, notice the things around you, and ponder the world and its beauties. Does that sound like a bit much? Well, if so, so be it. But it’s true. Her posts will do that to you. And, speaking of noticing the things around you, this is probably one of her best posts ever, which nicely sums up the type of reflection she delivers (and which also touches upon a school visit, something she really enjoys and tends to blog about and which you can read about here at her site).

When we asked her about her blog’s features, she said, “I’m a Johnny-come-lately and haven’t ushered in a thing, except for boatloads of admiration for all the smart folk out here writing, reviewing and generally being creative inspirations. I don’t have any regular features, but I have an occasional post on Books I Wish I’d Written {Ed. Note: here’s a recent example, as well as this one}. And I try to participate in Poetry Fridays most every Friday. I really love poetry. But really, I think most of my posts are just slices of life.” But that’s just what we love about her writing over at Liz In Ink: It might seem on the surface as if she’s writing about climbing mountains, but it’s also a larger musing on one’s passions; she can write about how what she learns in yoga can resonate with her work as a teacher of writing — and make it interesting, whether you do either one of those things yourself; she writes about parenting with candor and humor and perception; and, lucky for us all, she knows that poetry is better off when we don’t always just assign it to Fridays only. And it’s at Liz’s dinner table where some imaginative conversation can lead to a post about literary utensils.

Did we mention there are so many more examples of good writing at her posts? And stopping by Liz In Ink on Poetry Fridays is highly, highly recommended. She always delivers. Stop by her blog’s calendar/archives, and click on some Fridays and see for yourself. And when she shares prose, it’s a joy to read, too.

Liz also wrote the picture book, A Sock is a Pocket for Your Toes: A Pocket Book , illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser and published in 2004 by HarperCollins. You can read here what the critics had to say about it (and Jules’ thoughts here), but suffice it to say that it must be pretty great to have your first published picture book compared to a Ruth Krauss creation (Kirkus Reviews). “The book was picked up by Junior Library Guild and Children’s Book of the Month Club, it was a Children’s Crown Gallery finalist, and it’s recognized in Books Children Sit Still For,” Liz told us. “But the coolest thing that happened is that the University of Utah’s Virginia Tanner Creative Dance Program based its spring 2005 performance on the book. I went to Salt Lake City to see it unwind on stage.”

As for her other writing ventures, Liz told us:

I published dozens of poems in journals and small mags in the ’90s and I have a poem forthcoming in a collection called Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease from Kent State University Press. I also have a smattering of feature articles out there in the world, in newspapers and magazines. They were fun to do, but temporal. Books last a little longer.

I think.

I hope.

Liz’s next two picture books (temporarily called World and Wind) will both be illustrated by Marla Frazee and published by Harcourt Children’s Books (you can read Liz’s gleeful post about Wind here; it’s even entitled “Yippee Ai Yea!”). “I’m revising World as we speak,” Liz told us. “Cross fingers that all the words fall into place as they’re meant to . . .” And, actually, just this week she posted about it: This post begins with “Wheee”! Can you tell she has great enthusiasm for her job as a writer?

We would like to thank Liz for taking the time to stop by for a cyber-chat. Without further ado, here she is (with what Jules thinks is one of the top-five best answers ever to the what-sound-or-noise-do-you-love question) . . .

* * * * * * *

7-Imp: What do you do for a living?

Liz: Today, I write and teach. I should say, I write what I want to write and I teach what I love to teach. Which is amazing to me. Because over the years, I have been paid to flip burgers, make the itty bitty pieces of orthodontic braces, pour drinks, write newspaper articles, take orders, teach yoga, attend conference calls, edit textbooks, substitute in the public schools and write corporate marketing collateral. Whatever that is, right? Oh, and one day in college, I tried to be a telemarketing environmental activist. But since I only lasted for one day, I don’t think they paid me for that. I’m really happy, now, to be spending my days doing work that doesn’t give me a migraine or make me want to take a shower or cry for a foot massage. I mean, I like a good foot massage, but I don’t need one anymore.

7-Imp: How long have you been blogging?

Liz: I started a little less than a year ago -– I think my blogaversary might be on Thanksgiving or thereabouts, which seems appropriate since it’s become one of the things I’m thankful for.

7-Imp: Why did you start blogging? Why do you continue to do it?

Liz: I think I started a blog because it was what people were doing. I can be sort of a lemming that way. If I am a writer, I thought, my web site is no longer good enough. I need a blog ‘cause everyone else has one. But I didn’t have the faintest clue what I was doing. I didn’t have goals or themes or technological know-how or anything. And I still kind of don’t. I’m blogging as a children’s author so I write about the act of writing, and the craft, and about reading and teaching and poetry. But also about whatever strikes my fancy because there aren’t really parameters on my life or my job, so it hasn’t made sense to put parameters on my blog. I post about parenting and travel and yoga and homework and peace and friendship and volunteerism and old dogs and new tricks. I blog now because it offers me immediate gratification, which waiting for publication does not. And because it brings me into a community of inspiring, insightful and creative people. It is what people are doing but it’s like we’re lemmings who fly or swim rather well, don’t you think?

Robin Brande7-Imp: Which blog or site would you take to the prom to show off and you love it so much you could marry it?

Liz: Well, Robin Brande charms the pants offa me. I love what she shares about being a writer, and I think her comment section wins the most prom-able award, to be sure. I put on a wrist corsage before even reading those smart, funny exchanges. Also, I’m recently addicted to So, the thing is . . ., because it’s very pithy and very poignant and very real. It’s not about children’s literature but it’s about parenthood which I consider a close cousin. And I know I’m supposed to be monogamous in answering this question, but I also am faithful faithful (in my polygamous way) to my chums’ studio blogs: Shannon Lowry, Kathie Sever, and Bernadette Noll. Group date!

7-Imp: What are your other favorite things to do, other than reading and blogging?

Liz: Mothering, which no longer entails nursing or pushing prams or rocking babies to sleep but still involves lots of snacks and a heap of laundry and watching my daughters with utter awe. Also, astanga yoga, hiking with our good old dog, and seeing what’s arriving in the Netflix envelope this week.

7-Imp: What’s one thing that most people don’t know about you?

Liz: I don’t keep a lot of secrets. At least not any I’m ready to spill now . . .

Elaine Elias (and eisha really wants those shoes)7-Imp: What’s in heavy rotation on your stereo/iPod lately?

Liz: Elaine Elias, Angelique Kidjo, and the new Jimmy LaFave CD.

7-Imp: If you could have three (living) authors over for coffee or a glass of rich, red wine, whom would you choose?

Cynthia RylantLiz: First I’d open the wine, and then I’d invite Cynthia Rylant and Patricia Polacco and Sharon Creech to share it with me, and I’d prepare for a good and tender cry.

The Pivot Questionnaire:

7-Imp: What is your favorite word?

Liz: “Lush.”

7-Imp: What is your least favorite word?

Liz: “No.”

7-Imp: What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?

Liz: Natural beauty, innate compassion, spot-on song lyrics, and a Sunday with nothing that I’ve got to do.

7-Imp: What turns you off?

Liz: All the nasty “–isms.”

7-Imp: What is your favorite curse word?

Liz: I have a particular fondness for my husband’s “Shoot and Shinola.”

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you love?

Liz: Silence.

7-Imp: What sound or noise do you hate?

Liz: TV in restaurants.

7-Imp: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Liz: Well, I’ve considered lawyer more than once because I can really state my case with the best of them. But when I was a kid I wanted to be an actress and live on a horse farm. That still sounds swell.

7-Imp: What profession would you not like to do?

Liz: Chemist. I’m liable to explode things.

7-Imp: If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Liz: “Thanks for helping out down there.”

* * * * * * *

Liz was also interviewed by Cynthia Leitich Smith in February of this year. You can read that interview here . . .

12 comments to “Seven Impossible Interviews Before Breakfast #47: Author/Blogger Liz Garton Scanlon (In Ink & At 7-Imp)”

  1. Hurrah! Because of this interview, I went back and read some of Liz’s posts that took place before I “found” her blog. And I’m so glad I did!

  2. Me, too, Kelly. That one about forks, knives and spoons was vintage Liz (if I can say that, having only known her a very short time.) And I loved being led to the post about early risers (what a gorgeous Almanac that is!) and the one about the school visit…wow. So, thanks, Liz for writing those, and thanks, jules for pointing the way.

    Shoot and Shinola. Never heard it. Do you say it with a Texas drawl?

  3. Oh, I just googled and found this:

    Got it now. 🙂

  4. What a great interview! (Although it was a little weird to be traipsing along and suddenly see my own picture there! Liz, you’re so sweet. But let’s not forget that you’re one of the smart, witty people who make my blog comments so much fun to read.)

    I’m so glad you guys linked to those great blog posts of Liz’s–I confess I’d never seen any of them. Love the one on mountains and risk, the one on yoga–really, all of them.

    I love the answer to what do you want God to say. That’s a perfect goal for life. And let me point out, Eisha and Jules, you’re doing your part in “helping out down there” by showing us all these cool people we really need to know. Thank you!

  5. Thank you, Jules and Eisha! You guys really know how to clean a gal up and get her presentable. This was fun and so, so flattering.

    And thanks, Kelly, Sara and Robin — some of my very most favorite bloggers all!

    Wait ’til I send that Shinola link to my hubby. That’s gonna make his Monday. What DID we do without the internet?????

  6. for those of you who read liz but might not know liz, might i just slip in and testify to her utter live and in person fabulousness?
    i don’t think she’ll have to wait for God to thank her for helping out down here…..

  7. Yay, Liz! She’s one of my favorite bloggers. Another great interview Jules and Eisha!

  8. Yes thanks for another great inteview! I loved following all those links to wonderful Liz posts.

  9. Now you guys have got me blushing. Thanks for reading. It’s easy to rise to the occasion for the gals at 7 Imp…

  10. It was our pleasure to interview Liz. Woo hoo!

  11. […] in case you missed it, just last week Sara joined forces with fellow author Liz Garton Scanlon of Liz in Ink to post a series on the physicality of […]

  12. […] me for breakfast this morning to talk about this title and a few other things. I should note that Liz was here at 7-Imp in 2007 for an interview, so more information on Liz can be found there and… you know, […]

Leave a Comment

Should you have trouble posting, please contact Thanks.