Frequently Asked Questions

How do you say your name?

Good question! You can hear me pronounce my name here. You will also get to hear me talk a little about how I came to be named Liesl – it isn’t as cool of a story as Rump’s, but still pretty fun anyway.

How do you get your ideas?

Ideas are everywhere and everyone has them, so I don’t think we have to worry about getting the ideas so much as noticing them. I get ideas from my own experiences, my family and friends, books, movies, music, art, and nature. I pick out things that interest me, confuse me, or delight me. I also get ideas from asking questions, like “What if? Why? How?” What if there was a world were names were your destiny? What if Rumpelstiltskin was really a misunderstood hero instead of a villain? Why does Jack trade a cow for beans and steal from a giant? How does Red Riding Hood talk to a wolf? I don’t always go with the first idea that pops into my head. Chances are it’s an idea that lots of people have thought of before. I brainstorm and dig a little deeper until I find an idea that feels truly unique and full of possibility.

Did you always want to be a writer?

No, though I have always enjoyed writing, I never considered it for a job until I grew up. Before that I wanted to be a Broadway star, or a gymnast, concert pianist, dancer, and I vaguely remember a brief moment of insanity when I thought I wanted to do something with computers. (Please.)

When I got a little older and had children, I tried my hand at writing down some ideas that were in my head. It was difficult at first, and in many ways is still very difficult, but I fell in love with the process of writing down my ideas and watching them come alive on the page. There’s nothing like it.

What books did you enjoy as a child?

The first book I remember getting hooked on and reading over and over was The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner. I had fantasies about living in a boxcar in the woods, gathering my own food and finding treasures in the junkyard. I also loved Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn. Matilda by Roald Dahl has always been a favorite, and I loved books by Louis Sachar, Judy Blume, Shel Silverstein, and Beverly Cleary.

What is your writing process?

I start out with a few ideas and characters, and then I explore them for a while. I dig around in the dirt and poke at things, but there comes a point when I just have to jump in and start writing. Usually I have a basic idea of where I’m going with the story, what my characters want, and what is in their way, but how everything comes together is often a mystery. Things reveal themselves little by little, and I have to work hard to learn what is really going on in the story, and how it all comes together. It requires a lot of faith and patience. It requires lots of writing and rewriting, revision and editing. Sometimes it is frustrating, and other times it is exhilarating, but I always love it.

How do you get published?

These days there are so many different ways, and I can’t say what the best way is for anyone. All I can do is share how I went about it. I studied books that I really loved. I tried to figure out how those authors got published. I learned about the publishing industry and attended workshops and conferences. I worked really hard on my writing skills. Once I felt I was ready, I queried agents to see if they might want to represent me and luckily one did! She handled all the work of submitting to publishers (such a relief!) and negotiated my contract and all business matters.

Will any of your books be turned into movies?

Gosh, wouldn’t that be awesome? At this time there are no plans to turn any of my books into movies, though I think they’d make good ones, don’t you? Feel free to write a letter to your favorite film studio and let them know. You can practice the art of persuasive writing.

What’s your favorite book that you wrote? 

I have four beautiful children, each brilliant and wonderful in their own unique ways. Do you think I can pick a favorite child? Do you see where this is going? My books are very much like my children. I created them. It took lots of blood, sweat, and tears, and though I may have favorite characters or scenes in each of my books, I can’t pick one favorite book. Now I often hear people tell me which book I wrote is their favorite, and that’s fine, but I’m the mama of these books, so I love them all with my whole heart and recommend all of them to everyone.