Paige Britt grew up in a small town in Texas, with her nose in a book and her head in the clouds. She studied journalism in college and theology in graduate school, but never stopped reading children’s books for life’s most important lessons.
Paige is the author of WHY AM I ME?, a picture book celebration of humanity and diversity. It received four starred reviews and was included on the Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2017 list. The New York Times called it one of five new picture books that “not only embolden children to think, but inspire them to feel.” She is also the author of the middle-grade fantasy, THE LOST TRACK OF TIME, “an exuberant homage to the power of imagination and creative problem-solving” (Publishers Weekly, starred review).
In addition to being a writer, Paige is a meditation instructor and spiritual director. She lives near Austin, Texas, with her husband.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a small town in Texas called Salado. When I was a kid it was listed as an “unincorporated village” with a population of less than a 1,000 people. Most of those people knew me or my parents, which made it seem even smaller.
What's your favorite book?
Oh, my! That’s a hard question to answer. I have lots and lots of favorite books, but there are a few that are especially meaningful. As a little girl, I loved The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett. It was an absolute favorite. I adored E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web and was convinced Beverly Cleary’s books about Ramona were written specifically for me. As a grownup writer, I was inspired by The Phantom Tollbooth (Norton Juster), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Roald Dahl), The Memory Bank (Carolyn Coman) and Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (J.K. Rowling).
Where do you write?
My favorite place to write is my local library. The Georgetown Public Library is a wonderful, sunny place with lots of writing tables, helpful staff and a cafe that sells soup. (I love soup!) There is usually an art exhibit up and interesting people to watch for inspiration. My favorite is a man I see almost every time I’m there. He sits at the same table every day, wearing a cowboy hat and boots, starched jeans and a big belt buckle, reading the New York Times, cover to cover.
What is moodling?
I learned about moodling from Brenda Ueland in her book, If You Want to Write. In it she says, “The imagination needs moodling,–long, inefficient happy idling, dawdling and puttering.” I agree! When you moodle, you’re quiet, still and (horrors!) unproductive. You let your mind wander until it becomes calm and curious and open, as opposed to pushed and harried and smart. When you moodle, the world opens up with possibilities and you have a sense of being, instead of doing. After that, anything is possible . . . Go ahead, give it a try!
Do you have any writing tips?
Yes. Keep at it. It took me forever to write THE LOST TRACK OF TIME. Partly because I’m a slow writer, but mostly because I didn’t know what I was doing. In order to learn, I read lots and lots of book by people who did know what they were doing. I wanted to develop an ear for great writing, so I could try it myself. I’m still trying. That’s why I suggest you keep at it! It takes a long time. My other suggestion is to find other writers who are trying, too, so you can support and encourage each other. A good place to start is the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
What do you like to do besides writing?
Good question! I enjoy reading (of course) and I love being outside walking, jogging, riding bikes, or just staring at the sky. I like cooking, too. My favorite thing to make is soup. I also love to paint and draw. I have lots of notebooks full of drawings and doodles of characters and story ideas.
What countries have you visited?
I’ve been to Mexico, Japan, Germany, Italy, France, the Czech Republic, Austria, Switzerland and Egypt. One of my goals in life is to travel more. A few of the places I hope to visit someday include England, Ireland, New Zealand and China.
As a kid . . .
. . . I was captivated by the big questions of life. I used to lie around in a patch of clover, staring up at the sky and wondering . . . Who am I? And What am I doing here? I had two older sisters who knew EVERYTHING, but I felt completely clueless. There was no television in my house, but there were lots and lots of books, and they seemed like a good place to start. The books I read were full of adventures that I knew weren’t “real,” but they seemed true in another way — a deeper way. This deeper way was the way beyond common sense where small things were powerful, where kids were wise and capable, where bravery and kindness were one and the same.
Other clues about life came from being outside. My family lived in a crooked-y stone house built during the Civil War. It was three-stories tall, with a steep red metal roof and mushrooms growing in the downstairs dining room. We had twelve acres of land with a patch of woods and a spring-fed creek full of watercress and wild onions and tiny rapids that seemed big enough to me. There were pecan and pomegranate trees and an entire acre devoted to our vegetable garden. There were snakes and owls and foxes, if you knew how to keep your eyes open and your mouth shut (which I did). Everything I saw seemed to be deeply connected and mysterious . . . like there was far more going on than I could ever see or comprehend. Books and stories seemed to get at that “more” like nothing else could. And I loved them for that. So, I decided to be a writer — to make up stories that weren’t the least bit real, but were completely and utterly true.
As an adult . . .
. . . I was still captivated by the big questions in life. I studied journalism in college and theology in graduate school. After receiving my master’s, I took three months off to write and practice meditation at a Benedictine monastery. These three months were the beginning of my life-long interest in the connection between writing and contemplative practice. I took this interest into the classroom and began teaching creativity and spirituality at a local college. I also began my career as a professional writer. The paying gigs were in the corporate world, and I spent ten years as a writer and instructional designer developing interactive learning experiences for both children and adults.
As a busy professional, I would wake in the morning to write, and then off I went to work where I was always on the clock, struggling to “be productive” and “achieve results.” But there never seemed to be enough time! Where did it go and how could I get more? Slowly, slowly my meditation and writing practice cleared a path in my mind and a story began to take shape. And that’s how THE LOST TRACK OF TIME was born.
In 2010, I returned to school for training in spiritual direction and then opened a private practice, helping people apply the lessons of meditation to the dynamics of everyday life and relationships. Both as a writer and a spiritual director, my hope is to help people — young and old — to ask the big questions and discover their own answers.
“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.”
Essays & Interviews:
Hey Kid! (a letter to my tween self)
No Is a Word You Can Walk Right Through (my thoughts on writing and rejection)