Monday, March 27, 2017

An interview with Children's author, Deb Hockenberry!

"Today we're welcoming children's author, Deb Hockenberry. Thank you for joining me today, Deb. It's a pleasure to talk with you about your adorable new picture book, "Where Can We Have A Party."
Let's get right to the questions so people can find out more about your book.


Deb has always wanted to write stories for children since she was a kid herself. She has taken two courses from The Institute of Children’s Literature and is a member of the online and ongoing children’s workshop, The CBI Workshop. She also won first honorable mention in the Jory Sherman Short Story Awards!

In her spare time, Deb loves to crochet, knit, and just like you, she loves to go to parties!
Deb, Where Can We Have The Party? Is your first book. Tell us about it.
Hi, Deanie! Thanks so much for having me on your blog today. ‘Where Can We Have The Party?’ has been in the making for a long time. I got the idea back when I was in elementary school and it’s gone through so many transformations through the years.

The story is a very simple concept. Giraffe wants to have a party for his friend Chimpanzee. He can’t think of a place to have the party so he asks three of his other friends for ideas. Every idea they come up with won’t work for some reason or another. By the end of the book, however, they find a place and have a great party! Everyone lives in my world of Hungle Bungle Jungle.
The story is adorable, Deb. I had fun reading and reviewing it. Little kids will love it. I love Hungle Bungle Jungle. Saying that always makes me smile.

How did you get the idea for this picture book?
This is going to sound silly but to be honest, I’m not sure. As I said before, the idea popped into my head when I was in elementary school. It could be that I wanted to write a story that I would like to read. Also, I remember telling my siblings and the neighbor kids stories on our front porch in the evenings. I don’t know but the idea could’ve developed from there. I do know that I didn’t write it down until I was taking a course from the Institute of Children’s Literature in the 1990s. In fact, I used it for a lesson. That, as well as my critique group helped me immensely with the story. Until then, it was just forming and transforming in my head! I remember the original premise: The animals of Hungle Bungle Jungle wanted to have a birthday party for King Lion. King Lion is kidnapped by a band of evil monkeys. The King even had his security people or animals! They went out hunting for clues so they could rescue King Lion. This is a far cry from what ‘Where Can We Have The Party’ is today!
All the animals are so cute and they try to help solve the problem of where to have the party.
Who is your illustrator and how did you find her?
My illustrator is Emily Dimov-Gottshall who is always attending classes at Penn State University to improve her craft. I met her years ago at church. Then, I had no idea that she was an artist until I was telling her that I was trying to find an illustrator for “Where Can We Have The Party?” You can find her at:
 She did a great job with the illustrations for your book. They're delightful.

Are you working on any other stories?
Currently, I’m working on a young adult book about two girls in the War of 1812. I find this story very interesting! I also am working on a picture book about chimpanzees. Of course, I have more Hungle Bungle Jungle books in the works. I’m also working on a story about Pediatric Multiple Sclerosis.
My goodness, you're a busy lady with so many projects and books coming along. Congratulations.

Have you always wanted to be an author?
Oh, yes. In fact, we can trace that back to my elementary school days, too. I remember going to my local branch of Carnegie Library and asking the librarian about books that would tell me how to get started. I was so nervous! I waited until no-one else was at her desk. When I asked her, she took me into the adults section of the library to find those books. I felt so special! Back then, kids weren’t allowed in the adult section and I was still in elementary school!
That was nice of the librarian to help you get an early start on your career.
How often do you write?
Unfortunately, I can only write part-time but I do write six days a week. I wish I could devote a full day to writing.
Well, you're doing a great job so far. Keep up the good work.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
This is going to sound so cliché but it’s true: never give up. Always continue your writing education since writing for children is constantly changing. For instance, I belong to the CBI Clubhouse which is an ongoing and constantly changing, with children’s tastes and needs, online workshop. I also belong to several writing for children Facebook groups. Another bit of advice is to join a critique group. These are invaluable! It might take joining two or three to find the one that’s a good fit for you.
Best of luck with your book and all of your future ventures, Deb. Thanks for spending time with me today. It was fun chatting with you and finding out about your book and future plans."

Please share your links for your book.

Twitter: @debhockenberry


  1. I got this book and really enjoyed it. Kids will love trying to figure out where the party is going to be. Congratulations, Deb. Hope your book is a huge success!

  2. It is an adorable book, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by, Allyn. Wishing you continued success as well.