As an educator and a mother, Nancy Viau loves kids and she embodies the ones she meets in nearly all of her books.
By Krystal Nurse
For some people, writing is not an easy task, but for Mullica Hill resident Nancy Viau, it was a natural talent. Coupled with a love of books, she had a desire to become a published children’s author — an experience she said did not happen overnight.
“I wanted to go through a book agent because I was advised to go through one first, and I probably had 10 agent rejections,” Viau said. “Then I got an agent, and they submitted [“Samantha Hansen”] to about 15 publishers and then I got a bite and that book sold.”
Receiving rejections on several of her concurrent books made Viau consider giving up the career and finding something new to do, but it was her persistence that kept her powering through it all.
“You have to have a really thick skin to work through all of the rejections you get and say ‘I can still do this. Might have to change or revise some things, scrap it all together,’ but just to persist,” Viau said.
The determination she has helped her take in inspiration from the great outdoors and kids she would meet at book signings and assemblies, which she used as a tool to help them hone their writing skills and find inspiration wherever they go.
“I want to give them inspiration to look at the world around them, and see that there’s so much going on outside,” Viau said. “You don’t have to dig deep for inspiration on the prompts by your teachers. There are things out in the playground, the way your friends talk to you and a joke the kid next door tells you.”
For those who are older and are seeking to get into publishing their first books, she advises them to not only join Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, but to read on their own time, write and get their work criticized.
“Don’t have your family read it because they will tell you it’s fabulous,” Viau said. “Have a peer group look at it and criticize it and have them tell you what’s good and what’s bad and that’s where you’re going to get good ideas for changing it.”
While Viau no longer uses her own kids for inspiration for her upcoming books (as they are all grown up), she continues crafting stories for kids through the interactions she has had with them in previous meetings.
“All of my books are contemporary,” Viau said. “They’re not historical, science fiction, or fantasy. I listen to how kids talk in school visits and in the grocery stores. I want to make sure that my dialogue rings true to how kids talk today.”
Topics within her books, she says, are geared toward kids between the ages of 8 and 12 and are about the wonders that exist in the world for kids.
“Some are for 0 to 8, and then the next ones are 8 to 12,” Viau said. “The general theme is contemporary fiction or rhyming fiction. They’re not all funny. They can be delightful, but they’re not humorous.”
Becoming a New York Times’ Best Selling Author is not a priority for her, as she wants kids to be able to read her books and to continue writing for them.
Viau’s a natural writer, however she did not go to college for creative writing or seek out professional training due to her putting her career as an author off to the side as she ventured into other industries.
She joined the SCBWI, which she said has helped her revise portions of her previous books, draft submissions to numerous publication companies and push her to keep practicing. For support, she leans on other fellow authors from the KidLit Author’s Club, a group she created.
“It’s one of the best things I did because I feel like somebody always has my back, there’s always a question we can ask each other,” Viau said.
With her books being available nationwide in nearly every library, she said her next move is to continue writing more books and pushing herself to grow within the industry.
“I do a lot of book festivals, traveling, going to conferences where I present and talk about writing — I want to keep doing that. I want to try to keep coming up with the next great idea, continue working on the ones I have.”
Viau wants to create books that make children anywhere and everywhere smile.
“I’m not going to quit anytime soon,” said Viau. “I like working with the kids, I like working with words, the illustrators and publishers who decide on the fonts, cover, and what goes on the back.”