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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beth Arnstein Interview

 Yes, it's time for another MeeGenius author interview. (There are a lot of us, aren't there?) 
Beth Arnstein has written the adorable story I'm Not Afraid of Anything. Which, I might add, is a current MeeGenius Bestseller! Way to go, Beth! 
Let's see what Beth has to say about writing and childhood fears.

The Restless Writer (RW):  As a mother of two young children myself, I know it can be extremely difficult to carve out writing time. You're the mother of a very little one yourself. How do you manage to make time for writing? 
Beth Arnstein (BA):  This is a tough one for me lately. My son is a year and a half and, though he’s never been a good sleeper, he has recently cut his naps to a half hour a day, tops. With dinner preparations (he likes to help me cook so I have to get the dangerous stuff done while he’s not around) and other responsibilities, it has been almost impossible for me to write during the day as I had before. And with him still not consistently sleeping through the night, the early morning shift popular with many writers (including Lisa Rose as she said in her interview) seems too tough for me too. I’m squeezing in some writing during Sesame Street and in the evening after he’s gone to bed. I’m not as productive this way, but I’m trying to make it work. I don’t think I’m too different from other writers who work or raise kids. If it is important enough, we just make time.

Beth Arnstein
RW: Your picture book deals with childhood fears. What are some of the things that scared you as a child?
BA: I wasn’t afraid of much, but my fears were very similar to that of the character in my book. I can remember, when I was still young enough to have to hold my mom’s hand in the shopping mall, we rode an escalator up to the next floor. My foot, or since I remember it that way it was probably just my shoelace, got caught between the steps as they were closing at the top. Someone had to press the emergency stop button. Whenever anything like this, or the story that inspired I’M NOT AFRAID OF ANYTHING, happened, my imagination filled in what could’ve happened next. So, I guess what really scared me was my imagination.

RW: Are you still afraid of any of the same things from your childhood?
BA: I’m still a little uneasy on escalators. Though I don’t have a history with them, I’m also not a huge fan of birds.
RW: Are you the type of person who loves scary movies or do you prefer less creepy fare?
BA: Scary movies give me nightmares. There’s a great Target commercial out now with a man watching a scary movie and he turns on the light, which is a cfl and takes some time to get bright, so he stays scared. That’s so me. If I ever do watch something scary, I do it during the day and make sure someone, even if it is only my cat, is around to bring me back to reality.

RW: How did this story come to you?
BA: When I was about seven, I was sitting on the Berber carpet in the basement, smoothing my dress around my knees while my sister Katie (then four years old) was vacuuming. With the whole floor to work on, she, of course, chose to start right next to me. Right next to me got closer and closer until the vacuum caught my dress. The horrible growl of the vacuum scared us both. With pie-plate eyes, Katie tried to pull it away, but the vacuum was old and weighed probably twice as much as my sister. Sure I was going in after my dress, I screamed, “Mom! Katie’s sucking me up!” My mom ran to my rescue, laughing as she untangled the dress from the brush roll. She said there was no way I could fit in the vacuum, but, again, with my imagination and too many cartoons rattling around in my head, I didn’t completely believe her. Good thing, too, or there would be no story.
RW: What's the scariest story you've ever read?
BA: Probably THERE’S A MONSTER AT THE END OF THIS BOOK. Not too scary, I know. Like movies, scary books stick with me. Even the HUNGER GAMES had me a little on edge.
RW: The illustrations for your book are excellent. How did you react when you saw them for the first time?
BA: I reread the story a few times in a row. The illustrations have so many details and I didn’t want to miss any of them! Then I found David and Erin Hallangen-Lake on facebook and quickly sent a thank-you. It was the first time I’d ever not collaborated with the illustrator and I was just so pleased to see the creative take on my words.

RW: What is your biggest dream for your writing?
BA: My goal was to be published before my son learns to read. He’s so young, but as smart as he is, it happened just in time. Now, my dream is that my books will unlock something hidden inside each reader: dreams, potential, feelings of self-worth, or memories depending on the story. I want my words to make someone else feel something.

Thank you so much for answering my questions, Beth. And, I must add, I can't stomach scary stories or movies either. Glad I'm not the only one. 


  1. Great interview ladies. I'm Not Afraid of Anything is such an adorable story that my kids really can relate to. Beth, I enjoyed hearing how your story idea came about. I too was afraid of escalators as a child. Thanks for sharing a bit about yourself.

  2. So glad you survived the vacuum, Beth, and were able to bring us this book! :) And I love what you said about finding time to write: "If it's important enough, we just make time."

    Sarah, I've really enjoyed reading about all the MeeGenius folks! Thanks for another great interview.

  3. My kiddos love this story!! Great job, ladies!!