Why? Why Did You Do This to Me?

To kickstart the I VANT MY VAMPIRE BABY GIVEAWAY I'm posting this unauthorized interview by Vampire Baby's victim/brother:

Here's what I want to know: Of all the baby sisters in the world, why did mine have to be a vampire baby? WHY? Tell the truth, Kelly Bennett aka Ms. Bigshot Author: are you vampire crazy? Or did you turn Tootie into a vampire baby just so you could cash in on the vampire craze?

KB: Of course! I totally wanted to cash in on the vampire craze! (And rake in Armored truck loads of cash)...Who wouldn't? BTW: I'm still waiting....

Who knows: I could go Vampire--I have the fangs for it!

Who knows: I could go Vampire--I have the fangs for it!

As for vampire crazy: Maybe I would be a vampirepheliac. (I do love writing that word), if I could. But, there's one teeny problem with me going vampire: I have fainted at the sight of blood.

To be fair, it was my son Max's blood. He cut himself picking a piece of glass out of the grass. (Caution: don't play with glass.) Hey! At least I waited until the doctor was finished sewing the top of Max's thumb back in place before my eyes rolled. I remember saying, “I'm going….” The next thing I knew I was on the emergency room floor with my feet propped up on a chair and everyone staring down at me. That's not to say I might not turn vampire . . . I do have fangs.

VBB: Now that's SCARY! So, where did you get the idea for Vampire Baby?

KB: The title came first. It sprang from a workshop at Vermont College of Fine Arts (VCFA). Cynthia Leitich Smith was one of our workshop leaders. Her Tantalize series was hot, so she was the VCFA resident expert on all things Vampire. Someone in the group suggested that certain topics were off limits in picture books. Cynthia and I jumped on that foolish notion. 

“Such as?” we asked. That wonderfully-misinformed person looked at Cynthia and said, “What about, well . . . vampires.” And just like that (insert finger snap) I blurted out, “Vampire Baby!”

VBB: How long did it take you to write the story?

KB: About two years and 12 revisions.

VBB: Two years! But it doesn't have very many words? You must be a really slow writer. Why so long?

KB: The title, Vampire Baby, floated around in my head like a guilty secret, stirring and swirling, popping up every so often to remind me it was there for quite a while. But that's all it was, a title. I didn't have a story to go with it.

VBB: What were you waiting for?

KB: YOU! I had to figure out who I was writing about, and who I was writing for. The answer to both was you: an eight-year-old boy with sibling trouble.

VBB: So you invented Too-too-Tootie...

KB: Exactly! I was actually gathering material for a non-fiction book about teeth. A friend shared that unlike most babies, whose bottom teeth come in first, her canine teeth had come in first. That's when the story idea hit me.

VBB: Don't you mean “bit” me? Ha-ha! Canine means “dog.” Why couldn't Tootie have been a dog instead of a sister?

KB:You already have a dog. As I was saying... I actually wrote Vampire Baby with three people in mind: my Candlewick editor, Sarah, because she busted out laugh-snorting when she heard the title; my nephew, Devin; and his little sister, Grace, who has the best giggle.

VBB: How did you come up with the silly name, Tootie, anyway?

KB: It's from the movie Meet Me in St. Louis, starring Judy Garland. The littlest sister, played by Margaret O'Brien, was named Tootie. That name always made me laugh, and so it seemed perfect because you wouldn't expect a dangerous vampire baby to be named Tootie.

VBB: I still don't get it. Having a baby sister is tough enough. Why turn Tootie into a biter?

Ooops! Did I do that????

Ooops! Did I do that????

KB: Confession Time: some babies hit, some kick, some scream, some bite. To hear my family tell it, I did all of them! In my defense, they were all bigger and stronger and knew more words than I did. So I did what I had to do to get my point across. Biters are misunderstood: we're not bad, but we can be dangerous... And that's all the time we have. If I'm going to write more stories, I'd better get busy.

VBB: Wait! Just one more question, please? What's my name?

KB: That's for me to know and for you to find out in what I hope is the next adventure ofVampire Baby!

VBB: Thanks, Kelly... Uh oh! Here she comes...  

Youch Tootie! No Bite!