E.D. Baker is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the popular Tales of the Frog Princess series. Her latest middle-grade novel is The Frog Princess Returns. This is a complete transcript of her interview with Cracking the Cover.
Why do you write?
I discovered my love of writing when I was in elementary school and have been writing ever since. I lose all track of time when I’m writing and I look forward to it every day. Writing books was what I wanted to do more than anything, and I’m so happy that I get to do it!
Why specifically for young people?
A lot of reasons, but the most important is that I want to write books that even reluctant readers will want to read. The very best letters I receive from fans tell me that they didn’t like to read before they discovered my books, but now they love it! I’ve received countless letters from parents telling me that this is true of their own child, which makes me very happy.
When you first wrote The Frog Princess, did you have any idea it would become so popular?
Not at all! It was the first book I’d ever had published and I was thrilled. I didn’t even guess that it might have a bright future until soon after it came out when I heard that Disney wanted to option it for a movie.
It’s been seven years since you last published a book in the Tales of the Frog Princess series. What made you decide to revisit Emma’s world?
I’d actually started revisiting Greater Greensward and the Frog Princess characters in the fifth book of the Wide-Awake Princess series. Books five through seven were all cross-overs between the two series. (Book seven isn’t out yet. I just finished writing it and it is still untitled.) I wrote The Frog Princess Returns to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the publication of The Frog Princess. I love the characters from the series and I knew there was one thing left for them to do. The story takes place between Once Upon a Curse and No Place for Magic. I think this new book fits in very well.
Not in the least. I felt at home writing the book because I knew the characters and the kingdom so well. It was like revisiting old friends who I never stopped loving.
What is it about the Tales of the Frog Princess series that makes it stand out among its contemporaries?
My fans have told me that they love it because of its combination of adventure, romance and humor. Their parents have told me that they love it because of its innocence. Book sellers have told me that it’s ‘clean teen’, something they don’t see enough of these days.
Looking back, how has your writing evolved?
I’m more confident in my writing and I know what works for me. When I wrote The Frog Princess, I just started writing without an outline. Now before I begin writing, I start with what I call pre-writing – creating outlines of increasing depth and detail, a timeline, character studies, and a map if necessary. This helps me focus and keep on track when I do start writing so I know what comes next and don’t go off on any unnecessary tangents.
What are you working on now?
I just finished the first draft of a new series, More Than a Princess, which will be coming out in the winter of 2019. I am currently working on something very different that has lots of magic, but no princesses. Although it is contemporary, and begins in our world, it spends little time here. I’m having a great time writing it. When I finish this, I have a lot of other stories that I look forward to writing. Some will have princesses, some won’t, but they will all have magic! If your readers are interested in receiving postcards when my new books come out, they can go to my website, www.talesofedbaker.com and sign up on my mailing list.
Is there a book from your own youth that still resonates with you today?
I loved The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett when I was young. I remember being upset when terrible things happened to Sarah, which meant that the character was so well written that I actually cared what happened to her. To this day, I hope that I can create characters who are relatable enough that my readers will care about them.