Vampirina takes on the beach AND her very own Disney Junior Animated Series

I have known Anne Marie Pace since the glory days of LiveJournal, and I have valued her friendship for more than a decade. Anne Marie is the author of a number of pictures books including her popular Vampirina Ballerina series, illustrated by the spooktacular LeUyen Pham.

   

Anne Marie was kind enough to stop by Picture Book Builders to share a little about her soon-to-be-released Vampirina at the Beach (Disney*Hyperion) annnnd to give us some skinny on the upcoming Disney Junior animated series that is based on Vampirina Ballerina. Yes, people, she is living the dream.

Anne Marie, congratulations on your latest picture book! Please introduce us to your fang-tastic character Vampirina.

Vampirina is a ballet-dancing vampire who lives with her family in a haunted castle complete with a mummy, a dragon and a ghost or two.  She studies dance at Madame Sang’s studio (did you know “sang” is the French word for “blood”?) and made her debut in Swan Lake. She often turns into a bat when she is embarrassed or nervous, which can be problematic, but in the new books, she learns to use this ability to her advantage.

What will her adventures entail in Vampirina at the Beach?

I usually describe it as “Monster Mash meets Beach Blanket Bingo.”  Vampirina and her family head out for a night at the beach at a festival called Moon Monster Madness. It’s a bewitching night full of contests and crazy fun. She surfs, snorkels, and makes a new friend, who surprises her and the reader with a moonlight revelation. As always, LeUyen Pham’s illustrations require repeated viewings to notice all the incredible details.  One of my favorite bits is the moon-bathing Invisible Man.

What sparked the idea for this book?

Various scenarios were tossed around, and the idea of Vampirina and her family at the beach just kicked up all sorts of great possibilities.  I have so many wonderful memories of beach trips with my family that it felt very natural to write it—even if I’ve never met a sea monster or surfed on a tombstone.

This book is part of a series. What sort of writing challenges have you faced because of this?

When Uyen and I started working on the second book, she suggested that Vampirina undergo personal growth not only within each book, but also over the course of the series. So in the first book, she’s very much a loner, but she learns to make friends.  In the second book, her new friends are invited to her home for a sleepover, which presents new friendship issues for her: Do they really like me? Do they accept me for who I am? In the third book, she makes a new friend, a boy, and she uses the lessons she’s learned about acceptance and friendship in building her relationship with him. Each book stands on its own thematically, but it enriches the experience to read them in order.  A specific writing challenge for me is the language.  The books are heavy on vampire-inspired humor, but must stay appropriate for preschoolers, so a fairly large percentage of vampire lore has to be left out of the books, which honestly is fine with me because, believe it or not, I’m not really a big fan of spooky stuff.  And I can’t use the same play on words twice. There’s some word play in the third book that I hope will make adults chuckle.

Tell us Every Single Detail about the Disney Junior animated series. Okay, okay. If that’s too taxing, how about sharing five really cool bullet points?

  1. Pretty much everything I know, I know from following executive producer Chris Nee on Twitter. Chris is the brains behind the amazing Disney Junior show Doc McStuffins. Quite a few of the Doc folks are working on Vampirina, including the Oscar-winning animation team at Brown Bag Films, so I am super-excited to see what these very talented folks are doing with our vampire girl.
  2. The show and our books have different trajectories–call them alternative timelines, if you will.  There may be some aspects of the book universe an the TV universe in common, but basically the show people will do their show thing, and Uyen and I will do our book thing.  I hope kids will like both.
  3. Chris Nee says there’s a “dream cast” and I’ve seen some rumors online, but I don’t know anything official in regards to casting.  I do know that the characters have names, which makes sense to me, even though they don’t have names in the Vampirina books, except for Vampirina. Vampirina’s nickname in the series is Vee.
  4. Vee and her family have just moved from Transylvania to Pennsylvania, so there’s sort of an immigration/outsider theme playing out in the first season.
  5. It often surprises people to know that I am not involved in the TV tie-in merchandise, like the toys and the books.  (Yes, there will be TV-based books that I don’t write and Uyen doesn’t illustrate.  I am looking forward to the sticker book. I am going to stick all the stickers.)

If you had one key piece of advice for writers, what would it be?

Do the work. Do the work. Do the work.  (Does saying it three times for emphasis still count as one piece of advice?)

Scoop time! What’s next for you?

I’m always working on various stages of picture book manuscripts, and I’m revisiting a novel I’ve been working on, on and off, for about fifteen years. I can’t shake it, which tells me I’m supposed to be working on it. Vampirina at the Beach comes out April 4, so I’ll be sharing it with people over the next few months in various forums—school visits, bookstores, etc.  And then Groundhug Day, illustrated by Christopher Denise, comes out in December.

Anne Marie, thank you so much for stopping by Picture Book Builders and giving us some advice we can really sink our teeth into! Mwah-ha-ha-ha-ha.

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Bio:

Anne Marie Pace is a picture book author whose books include Pigloo (Henry Holt, 2016, illustrated by Lorna Hussey); two original paperbacks for the Scholastic Book Club; and the three published and upcoming books of the Vampirina Ballerina series for Disney-Hyperion (illustrated by LeUyen Pham), which is in development as a television series (premiering on Disney Junior in 2017).  Books coming in 2017 and 2018 include Vampirina at the Beach (Disney-Hyperion, April 4, 2017), Groundhug Day (Disney-Hyperion, illustrated by Christopher Denise) and Busy-Eyed Day (Beach Lane Books, illustrated by Lorna Hussey). She’s an active member of SCBWI and spends too much time on Facebook and Twitter.  Find her at http://www.annemariepace.com, https://www.facebook.com/VampirinaBallerina/ and @annemariepace.

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GIVEAWAY:

One lucky duck commenter will received a signed copy of Anne Marie’s Vampirina at the Beach.

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WINNER:

The winner of Annie Silvestro’s Bunny’s Book Club is Penny Parker Klostermann. Congratulations!

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer

Tammi Sauer is a former teacher and library media specialist. She has sold 29 picture books to major publishing houses. In addition to winning awards, her books have gone on to do great things. Mostly Monsterly was selected for the 2012 Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program. Me Want Pet! was recently released in French which makes her feel extra fancy. And Nugget and Fang, along with Tammi herself, appeared on the Spring 2015 Scholastic Book Fair DVD which was seen by millions kids across the nation. Her latest books include I LOVE CAKE! and Ginny Louise and the School Field Day.

42 Comments:

  1. Roberta M. Rivera

    Great article Tammi! Congratulations Anne Marie Pace. Wonderful interview! 🙂

  2. I’m almost as excited as my daughters about the Disney Junior show. Congratulations Anne Marie!

  3. I’m so excited to hear about the next Vampirina book. I love the first two and this one sounds just as adorable! And a television series! That’s amazing!
    And I’m excited about winning Bunny’s Book Club, too! Thanks 😀

  4. This series is a testament to Anne Marie Pace’s vision of a Gr-rrrr-reat character. It’s also an ode to the marriage of excellent writing and perfect art (by LeUyen Pham) in picture books.

  5. Congratulations, Anne Marie Pace! How very exciting for you.

  6. Yay! I can’t wait to read this one! We love the entire series at our house!

  7. This is all so exciting! I bug Anne Marie on a regular basis to keep me updated on all the grand goings-on! 🙂

  8. Thanks for sharing your vision of that adorable vampire you created. The sequels are so well thought out. Congrats on all your success!

  9. YAY, another Vampirina Ballerina book! I loved the first two!!! Congratulations on the Disney show. Very cool!

  10. As a big Beach Blanket Bingo fan, this just sounds like a barrel of fun! Thanks for sharing the inside scoop!

  11. So excited for the next book (and the TV show, too, though we don’t watch a lot at my house.) So fun to get these behind-the-scenes details!

  12. How exciting..,,Disney!! It doesn’t get better than that!! These books are so adorable and I’m sure I will be watching the new show with my Grandson on the Disney channel!! Can’t wait! I wish you much success in all your writing endeavors!

  13. Very interesting to find out more about the TV series and nitty-gritty. Congratulations on this newest book!

  14. So exciting to be the inspiration for a whole tv series. Vampirina sounds so fun.

  15. Living the dream, for sure! Congrats, Anne Marie! So cool to hear the details.

  16. So exciting!! Hearty congrats to you, Anne Marie!

  17. So awesome that another Vampirina book is coming out! Congrats Anne Marie!!!!!

  18. An animated Disney show based on your book? Wow, congratulations Ann Marie! Thanks for sharing the details about your Vampirina series. Can’t wait to read the newest one!

  19. Great post!! Congratulations Anne Marie!! Look forwarding to reading the latest Vampirina book.

  20. So happy to hear about more Vampiric books and to know of your success.i’ll look forward to hearing about the upcoming cartoon.

  21. Looking forward to reading your newest Vampirina book. Congratulations!

  22. Love the character. Congrats on the success of the series.

  23. Congratulations! This looks like such a fun series! Thank you for the great post.

  24. Go, Anne Marie! You are so right about doing the work being key. There is no other way to success than that. Keep doing the work!

  25. Thanks for the sneak peek behind your newest VAMPIRINA and the Disney Jr show. How exciting!

  26. Thank you, Anne Marie and Tammi, for sharing the info. on this fun series. Many, many congratulations on your success. It’s clear you have done the work a thousandfold! All the best to you.

  27. Surfing on a tombstone. Brilliant! Huge congratulations to Anne Marie. She has achieved so much already, with much more to come. It is gratifying to know that she has put in the hard yards to achieve it.

  28. So fun to hear a bit about your collaboration with LeUyen Pham!
    And so exciting to have your work inspire a TV series! Congratulations!

  29. Fascinating! Thank you so much!!!!

  30. How every cool! Thanks for sharing!

  31. Can’t wait to receive our copy of Vampirina at the Beach and get ready for summer!

  32. Stacy Digianantonio

    I love this series and am excited to hear it is now a Disney Junior animated series. I’ll have to check it out since I know the kids at our library will be watching!

  33. What a Vamptastic give-away! Can’t wait to sink my teeth into this book!

  34. Wow! Great news for you…and all because “you did the work”! So inspiring and exciting!

  35. This is a terrific interview. The creation of a series is very interesting.

  36. That underwater scene is everything!! The book looks fantastic, I can’t wait to check it out. Congrats on all these exciting moving parts, Anne Marie, and thanks so much Tammi for sharing her with us.

  37. Thanks to all of you who sunk your teeth into (and commented!) on this post.

  38. I can’t wait to read Vampirina at the Beach! That sounds delightful. Congrats on the TV show too. Very exciting developments.

  39. How exciting for Anne Marie to be a television star!!
    I look forward to getting the Vampirina series books!

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