Francess Lantz  Francess Lantz

    Francess Lantz died on November 22, 2004, at her home in
    Santa Barbara, California, at the age of 52. She had ovarian

    She wrote more than 30 books, including several juvenile

Authors Among Us - Children's Writers Who Are or Who Have Been Librarians

Featured Titles by California writer Fran Lantz:
Stepsister From the Planet Weird    STEPSISTER FROM PLANET WEIRD
   Random House  ISBN 0-679-87330-9

   Purchase this book from

Love Song
   1.  Love Song  Purchase this book from
   2.  Lights, Camera, Love
   3.  A Royal Kiss
   Aladdin  ISBN 0-689-83420-9


Other Books by Fran Lantz:

     Short story in ON THE FRINGE, edited by Donald Gallo

Please tell about your library work or career.  What influenced you to become a librarian?

     I was 23 years old,  living in Boston, attempting to becoming a rock star (wrote songs, performed, sent out tapes of my songs to record companies, etc.) Unfortunately, fame and fortune weren't happening and I was getting tired of working temp jobs and hanging out in recording studios all night.  Then one day my mother told me she would pay for grad school if I wanted to go.  I was interested, but what would I study?  Music seemed the logical choice since I had majored in music at college and was attempting to become a professional musician.  But did I really want to study classical music in depth?  Naw.  Then I thought about a library degree.  I liked books, I liked libraries.  Why not?  Beyond that, my motives were rather embarrassing to admit:  I liked the fact I didn't have to take the GREs to get into library school, I liked that a degree took only 3 semesters, and I wouldn't have to write a thesis.  So I went for it -- and was accepted at Simmons College in their M.L.S. program.

Do you have a library/information science degree?  From which school?

     Yes (see above).  When I first arrived at Simmons I thought I'd made a terrible mistake!  Most of the students were in their 40s and pretty dowdy (to me, a hip 23 year old rock star type).  And Reference Methods didn't exactly excite my imagination.  But then I took a Children's Lit class, a Media Class, and a YA Lit class.  Now this, I thought, is fun!  For my final project in my Kid Lit class, I wrote and illustrated a picture book.

What kinds of library positions have you held and where?

     Librarian at newly-formed LAB School (an experimental high in Boston).  Sunday librarian at Arlington Public Library Children's Room.  Children's Librarian at Dedham Public Libraray (all in Massachusetts).

How long were you, or have you been, a librarian?   4 years (3 full time), 1975-1979 (ancient history now!)

Are you currently working as a librarian?  No

If not, why did you leave?

     I left because during my second year at Dedham P.L. I began  writing children's books and trying to get published.  After the third year there, I was pretty sure I didn't want to be a children's librarian for the rest of my life.  I liked it very much, but I liked writing more.  So I took a part-time job as a nanny (for the son of the adult services librarian) so I'd have more time to write.

Which came first in your life, your work or career as a librarian, or writing for children? 

     See above and below.

Did your library work have anything to do with becoming a children’s writer?

     It had everything to do with it!  I had written stories as a child, and songs as a teenager, but had given up my dream of being a writer long ago (and was quickly giving up my secondary dream of being a rock star).  At the library I began reading lots of children's books, I hung out with children, I ran a 4th-5th-6th grade afterschool activites group, I ran storyhours and summer reading clubs, I purchased all the books for the children's room.  All this got me interested in kids and books and how the two interacted.

     One of my activities was a Graveyard Story hour.  We met at the library after dark (twice a year), then walked to the nearby Episcopal Church.  I sat on a gravestone and told scary stories by the light of a small keroscene lantern; the kids sat on the grass.  It was a huge hit!  After three years, I was running out of good scary folk tales to tell.  So I decided to write my own.  The kids seemed to like them, and that got me thinking that I could write books for children.  So I started to try.

Did your library work directly influence your work as an author?  How?

     See above.  I was heavily influenced by all the good YA literature that was around in the 70s.  Judy Blume, Paula Danzinger, S.E. Hinton, M.E. Kerr, Kin Platt.  I also remember being very impressed with Daniel Pinkwater and John Bellairs.  I corresponded with Pinkwater for a few months, and Bellairs came to speak at our library.  It was all very inspiring!

Did incidents from your library work ever make it into your books?  Did you ever set any scenes in your books in the library?

     I learned a lot about middle grade kids from hanging out with the girls in my 4th-5th-6th grade afterschool club.  Haven't set any important scenes in the library yet.  I'm not sure why.  But now I'll definitely think about it!

What are/were the greatest benefits of being a librarian to you as a writer?

     It was being a librarian that introduced me to the depth and variety of comtemporary children's books.  It also showed me firsthand what kids like to read.

Were there any drawbacks to being a librarian and also a writer? None that I can think of.

If you wrote while working as as librarian, how did you manage the time-juggling act?

     It was very tough to be a full-time librarian and write.  (although I sometimes found a few spare moments at work!)  Lack of time to write is why I left my library job.

Did you find any conflicts or job-related difficulties in being both a writer and a librarian?  For instance, how do your library administration and colleagues view your authorship?  Was it appreciated and encouraged?  Were the library patrons/ aware of your writing?

     n/a  (I didn't sell my first book until after I left the library)

Do you feel that librarianship had specific benefits to you as a writer?  If so, what were they?

     I'm pretty good at doing research for my books -- but not as good as I should be, given my background.  I've forgotten a lot.  But at least I know this:  when I get stumped, I go to my local library and ask a librarian for help!

Special Quote from Fran:

     Being a children's librarian is a GREAT way to learn about children's books and what children like to read.  But boy, I could never get a library job now.  I am hopelessly computer-illiterate (at least by librarian standards).  I am so impressed by what 21st century librarians know about books, on-line info, everything.  Librarians rule!!!

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Last Updated November 20. 2005