News and Interviews

Take a Tour of Award-Nominated Author Carrie Snyder's Writing Space

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Cliffy is excited to tell his parents it is pajama day at school. He loves getting to wear his comfy footy pajamas all day long. The only catch? It's not actually pajama day at all - but the busy and distracted adults in Cliffy's life don't notice his little white lie, and soon all the kids at school are following suit.

Carrie Snyder's charming read-aloud book Jammie Day! (OwlKids Books) tells the tale of an overlooked middle child making his mark on his school and his world in a gentle (and very cozy) way. The adorable artwork from Brooke Kerrigan captures the warmth and life of a busy family, fun classrooms, and of course, beloved jammies. 

To celebrate Jammie Day!, we're welcoming Carrie to Open Book today to take us into her work space, where the book (and also her acclaimed adult fiction) was created. She explains why we'll have to sit on the floor for this tour, shows us the beautiful desk her dad built, and proves that a busy desk is the mark of a hard working mind. 

At the Desk with Carrie Snyder

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Welcome to my office. I’m at my desk right now. There’s scarcely room for my laptop, a stack of manuscript pages at my elbow, a dog sleeping underfoot. I’m almost embarrassed to show you around; I haven’t tidied up in awhile—months, maybe years? For the first decade and a half of my writing life, I worked at a tiny desk squeezed into corners in bedrooms. I could blame the mess on everyone else. But I’ve had my own space—this tiny light-filled room—for five years, and gradually, stealthily every inch has been crowded with… well, with what? This may take some soul-searching.

I would invite you to relax in my Great-Aunt Alice’s rocking chair, placed invitingly under a window and facing the door, but it’s currently occupied by a bike helmet, water bottle, books (Helen Oyeyemi’s What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours, an old ARC of my own novel Girl Runner, and a package of course readings for the creative writing class I’m teaching this term). Also, a pair of socks. Or, I’d offer you the drum kit stool, but it seems to be piled with books, too: Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating with the Dead, a much-marked-up copy of Lynda Barry’s Syllabus, and an essay I wrote for The New Quarterly, which still needs editing.

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Okay, I’m just going to unroll the yoga mat propped in the corner and we can sit on the floor. Feel free to lean against the big box of books (copies of Jammie Day! for my upcoming launch party).

I’m very proud of my desk, custom-built by my dad, with a wide work-surface and tall shelves crammed with books and pictures. Taped to the brick wall beside it are drawings and cartoons that show my progress in this latest obsession. Art supplies litter the desk’s surface, along with thank you notes and children’s artwork, trinkets, gifts, pencil shavings, health cards, ear plugs, moisturizer, file folders …

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Life has spilled into this space, filled it with unrelenting proof of abundance.

I wonder: what does the state of this office reveal about my methods, my mind? Dare I investigate? The woman who occupies this room does not like throwing anything away: every scrap and reminder is precious. She flirts with a wide array of ideas, obsessions, interests, holding on to the accessories of each in case she’ll need them again. (Boxes filled with research on the print industry in 16th century England; stacks of hand-written diaries, and drawings on index cards; a meditation stool; a camera and tripod; horse memorabilia; soccer coaching manuals; a kettlebell; a digital recorder.) Creative energy is evident; an organized direction is not. It’s amazing this woman gets any work done!

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“I’m going to clean my office soon!” I informed my husband this past weekend. By soon, I was thinking maybe around the Christmas holidays. But perhaps it should be a bit sooner. Check in with me in a month.

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Carrie Snyder lives in Waterloo, Ontario with her family. Her most recent picture for children, Jammie Day!, is published by Owlkids.

Related reading

Jammie Day!

Cliffy is a middle child: a little less loud, a little less messy, and a little less conspicuous than his four siblings. One cold, winter morning, Cliffy doesn’t feel like getting dressed. So he tells his mom it’s jammie day and heads to school in his favorite footy pajamas.
His mom might not have been paying attention. His teacher and his dad are distracted, too. So Cliffy gets away with it for a day… then a week… then a month. The other kids at school catch on quickly and start making every day jammie day, too! This playful read-aloud pokes fun at preoccupied adults and lets the kids win. Adorable, nuanced artwork elevates the story with a true-to-life depiction of family chaos, emotion, and warmth. The illustrations especially show off Cliffy’s jammies, which become more worn, torn, and beloved as the months go by.