Edith Tarbescu

Edith Tarbescu
"Bring Back My Gerbil!"

Interviewed by: Lauretta Pierce
September 8, 2004

Q. What inspired you to write "Bring Back My Gerbil?"

A. I was inspired by seeing my niece and a friend playing with my niece's gerbil Jake. I took a picture of them and kept the photo tacked to my bulletin board. I was so inspired by looking at that photo, I eventually wrote book. I didn't change the name of the gerbil. It's still Jake.

Q. How did you come about the title?

A. I originally called it "Katie and Tyler." When it was accepted by Scholastic, the editor suggested I change the title to "Bring Back My Gerbil." I immediately agreed; it's a much better title.

Q. How long have you been writng for Scholastic Books.

A. This was my first book for Scholastic, although my book "The Crow" about the Crow Nation of Montana is now a Scholastic book. I sold the manuscript to Franklin Watts, but that's now a division of Scholastic. I have a picture book and two more easy readers with an editor at Scholastic.

Q. What method(s) do you use to promote "Bring Back My Gerbil."

A. I have shown the book to pet stores and sent notes to shops that cater to pets. I also do lots of school visits (See my next answer.)

Q. Do you visit elementary schoools to read your book to children?

A. I do lots of school visits. I love interacting with students. I sometimes read "Gerbil" aloud or I ask for volunteers and we act it out together with one person reading and another showing the pictures. I also have early sketches by the artist and I show those to students.

Q. How many books have you written?

A. I've had four children's books published, but I've written many more. Several manuscripts are in circulation and a few have been "retired."

Q. How did you come about Tyler and Caitlin's names?

A. My niece is named Amanda and her friend is Tyler. I was inspired by their antics with my niece's gerbil. Caitlin also calls herself Katie in the book. I thought Katie and Tyler has a nice sound.

Q. Are children's books the only genre you write?

A. No, I write plays for adults. I've had several plays produced in regional theatres and Off-off Broadway. I'm currently working on a book of linked short stories (for adults) titled "Belfast Blues and Other Stories." So far, four of the stories take place in Belfast, Ireland.

Q. What message would you like readers to receive from reading "Bring Back My Gerbil?"

A. Caitlin (Katie) and Tyler tease each other all the time, but they value each other's friendship. I would like kids to come to that conclusion--that friends might argue, but it doesn't mean the end of the friendship.