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  • Writer's pictureLittle Thoughts Press

Interview: Sheila Schmotzer


A photograph of Little Thoughts Press Issue One: Magical Winter with a sneak peek of the story "Snow Ballet" by Sheila Schmotzer.

 

Sheila Schmotzer is a former dance studio owner and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Dance. Currently, she works as a flight attendant with a major US airline. She resides in South Carolina and is based out of Orlando, Florida. Sheila is a member of the World Animal Foundation. She enjoys volunteering at her local wildlife refuge center and traveling. An IMDb member, Sheila has appeared in Netflix’s The Do Over, as well as in the feature films Magic Mike XXL and Baywatch.


Sheila’s story, “The Snow Ballet,” is part of Little Thoughts Press Issue One: Magical Winter.


 

Little Thoughts Press: You are a former dancer and dance instructor, and this background is on full display in your story, "The Snow Ballet." I think of both dance/movement and writing as forms of creative expression. What similarities have you found between these modes of expression, and how does your dance background inform your writing and your approach to storytelling?

Sheila Schmotzer: You are right, they are very similar expressions. I loved teaching ballet and I loved making up dances. Choreography is setting every move up to where it fits with the music, feels good, paints a visual picture onstage, and moves the audience in some way. Writing is exactly the same. Every word, phrase, and line must be sequenced in the best way possible to engage the reader. To me, writing is the choreography of words.

Little Thoughts Press: What initially drew you to writing kid lit and what do you find most challenging and rewarding about writing for a young audience?

Sheila Schmotzer: Around 5 years ago, I changed careers and went from owning a dance studio to becoming a flight attendant. So I went from the nonstop creativity of choreography, music editing, designing costumes and websites, and putting together recitals… to a new nonstop life revolving around a company schedule, commuting across the country to go to work, weather, following protocols, learning every part of a plane, hustling through airports, and unpredictable rest/sleep stages. My creative side was ready to explode. I found writing (especially on red-eyes) to be engrossing and a FUN way to let it out.

Little Thoughts Press: Which kid lit authors and books were your favorites growing up?

Sheila Schmotzer: P. D. Eastman

Little Thoughts Press: And what about today? Any kid lit writers you love and want to shout-out?

Sheila Schmotzer: I wish I could write like Mo Willems. His simple style gives his audience humor and impact. His stories get away with absurd and funny things while in reality, giving kids little tools to deal with situations without them knowing it.

Little Thoughts Press: What is your favorite thing about winter?

Sheila Schmotzer: SNOW. I have an interesting story from the moment I knew I must write a picture book. It was in the snow outside an airport at 2 in the morning. The temperature was 8 degrees and snow completely covered the sidewalk. It was then I spied a tiny little mouse, scurrying about in the thick heaps of snow. I was totally fascinated and intrigued by this little creature and his plight. A year and a half later, driving into the same lot, I mentioned the little mouse and someone said to me that he sneaks into the doors and hides in a vending machine. That’s when I knew I had my first story. That magical meeting with that little mouse in the snow is what inspired me to become a writer.

Little Thoughts Press: What advice would you give to young writers?

Sheila Schmotzer: Surround yourself with people that you can bounce ideas off of frequently. Enjoy the ride. You can follow Sheila’s work on Twitter, Instagram, or on her website.






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