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Author Interview – Rachel Ruiz

Passing the Bone isn’t the only POTUS children’s book in 2016-there’s a newly released picture book about POTUS and it’s one you can’t miss!

During a Passing the Bone event, I noticed the manager had set up a presidential themed children’s book display in honor of the event. My eyes immediately went to the most adorable cover-a book titled, When Penny Met POTUS. Not only was I drawn to the vibrant illustration, but also my husband and I had recently bought a puppy named Penny! Tag on being a kindergarten teacher and constantly looking for great picture books, I knew I’d be making a purchase on my way out-and am I glad I did!

When Penny Met POTUS is an adorable, funny, and inspiring book about a young girl whose mother works for POTUS. Who is POTUS? Is he scary? What does he do? What does he look like? Penny takes readers on a magical tour through The White House as she hunts for POTUS. What does she discover about POTUS? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

I loved Rachel Ruiz’s book so much that I instantly reached out to her and asked if she would be willing to participate in an author interview. She was so quick to respond, gracious to answer my questions, and even gave advice for fellow authors and aspiring writers. Thank you, Rachel! From a fellow author and now a fan, I wish you much success with When Penny Met POTUS and your future books! Enjoy her author interview below!

Author Interview with Rachel Ruiz

What inspired you to write When Penny Met POTUS? 

The idea came to me after working on President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. I’m a writer/producer for TV and cable and I was recruited to work on producing videos for the campaign. While working on the campaign, my then 3-year-old daughter Macy became fascinated with the word “POTUS.” She asked all kinds of questions like – “Did you have lunch with POTUS today?” “Is POTUS allergic to peanut butter?” “When can I meet POTUS?”

Have you met the real POTUS? If so, tell us what it was like!

We have met the real POTUS! A few times, all very briefly. My husband, my daughter, and I met President Obama at a campaign rally in Milwaukee a few days before the 2012 election. I met him again the day after the election when he came to thank us at campaign headquarters. He walked around and gave us all a hug! Then in October of this year, because of When Penny Met POTUS, Macy & I were invited to the White House for their Hispanic Heritage Month reception and we got to meet with President Obama and Vice President Biden and get an awesome picture! President Obama even signed a copy of When Penny Met POTUS to Macy. It was an amazing experience and I was so grateful I got to share it with my daughter.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden join Rachel Ruiz, Children’s Book Author, and daughter Macy Flaster for a photo in the Blue Room prior to a reception for Hispanic Heritage Month in the East Room of the White House, Oct. 12, 2016. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

Have you always wanted to be an author?

YES! I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. It took a few decades but I’m so grateful my dream came true.

How long did it take you to write your book?

I wrote When Penny Met POTUS in a few weeks but it took almost 3 years to find a publisher and another year to get it published.

Are you writing other books?

Yes. I’m currently writing six more books for Capstone Young Readers.

What is your favorite thing about reading to children?

Actually, I love the Q&A after the reading. Sometimes kids have questions like; did I want to be president when I was a kid? (The answer is no!). Once a little girl told me she wants to be president one day. I loved that one. Another time, a little girl walked up to me and said, “Hi, my name is Penny!” Love, love, love!

What is your favorite thing about the White House?

Just being there is magical. At every turn, I’m in awe.

What do you love most about our country?

Its resilience.

What do you want children to take away from reading your book?

No dream is too big to dream. The sky is the limit; actually, beyond the sky is the limit (my daughter wanted to be an astronaut for a brief time). But really, I want little girls, and all kids to start thinking they can be anything they want to be. Also, I want them to laugh at the furry blue monster stuffed into a business suit!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

Keep writing! And keep pitching your manuscripts. For me, it happened by word of mouth through a friend of a friend. Cold calls and sending manuscripts via snail mail didn’t work for me – though it does for some people. Talk to people; tell everyone you know about your story idea and your manuscript. You’ll eventually meet someone who can help you. I’m a big fan of SCBWI, They are an amazing resource for aspiring authors!

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