Lisa Rojany Buccieri (pronounced Row-zha-nee Boo-chee-eh-ree) wrote her first book at the age of three by dictating it to her mother. Reading was (and still is) an integral part of her imagination and defined her childhood. “I used to create forts in my closet with blankets, a flashlight, my favorite snacks and stacks of books, and read and read and read,” she says. When she applied to college she remembers thinking she wanted to spend the rest of her life reading and writing. Her dream took a dramatic turn while studying for her Ph.D. at Brown University with the ultimate goal of becoming a college professor. “The myopia and politics of academia was not something I was interested in spending my life doing,” Buccieri says.
While at Brown, Buccieri accepted a job with Intervisual Books creating pop-up books. “I became enamored with the whole process of bringing children’s books to life in 3-D,” she says. Later at Americhip Books, Golden Books, Price Stern Sloan and other publishers, Buccieri integrated light, sound, animation and paper engineering into her books to enhance a child’s reading experience and make it competitive with other media.
Working for various novelty book publishers gave Buccieri a back-stage pass to a side of publishing normally unavailable to most writers. Today, Buccieri continues to specialize in novelty books with over 100 titles to her credit. As a book packager, Buccieri sometimes develops the initial concept of a book or series, like the Let’s Make Noiseseries. She writes the text, and then hires the illustrator, the book designer, develops a marketing strategy for the series, and sells the complete “package” to publishers. Sometimes publishers come to Buccieri with ideas and ask her to help bring them to life. In the case of Sammy’s Suitcase, a Random House editor suggested a concept and a format. Buccieri developed the story line, wrote the story, and included suggested art notes for pop-up illustrations. She also included examples of paper engineering that she particularly liked.
Ghostwriting is another facet of Buccieri’s varied career. With the exception of select children’s authors such as J. K. Rowling, writing for children is a notoriously low-paying field. Buccieri says, “I have a family to support so the by-line isn’t as important to me.” Ghostwriters are paid a lot of money in lieu of credit for rewriting a flawed manuscript or for fleshing out an idea or concept (oftentimes suggested by a celebrity or an expert in a particular field) into something saleable. Many of the 100 books ghosted by Buccieri do not bear her name, and she is bound by the terms of her contract not to release their titles. Other contracts, like the one for Guess Who Wears Glasses?, allow her to list the titles in her resume.
Regardless of whether a title bears her name, Buccieri approaches each book with the idea of enhancing a child’s reading experience. T. H. White’s The Once and Future Kingwas a favorite of Buccieri’s as a child, and she enjoyed sharing her excitement for the legend with younger children in King Arthur’s Camelot (Dutton, 1993), a Book of the Month Club selection. Exploring the Human Body (Barrons, 1992), selected by Child Magazine as a Best New Parenting Book, challenged and surprised her. In order to make dry, scientific facts resonate with children, she drew upon her fiction writing skills. Buccieri wrote the Code Blue series for young adults while working full-time. She created four characters with rich lives and backgrounds who became as real to her as her friends. She developed character bibles—a practice she extols in Writing Children’s Books for Dummies—to help make her characters as clear on paper as they were in her mind.
Buccieri makes her home in Los Angeles with her husband and three daughters. She is a frequent speaker on children’s publishing, writing and editing at the UCLA Writer’s Program Extension and other venues. The foundation for her success is her love of reading and literature, a love she shares with today’s children by designing, creating, writing, and editing the books that you will read to your children tomorrow. Although many of Buccieri’s novelty books may not boast her by-line, they are developed with an appreciation for the sense of wonder that a child brings to a new experience.