Author and Illustrator Interview: Maria Knier

The BezertTHE BEZERT BY MARIA KNIER

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
 The Bezert is a unique, imaginative and poetic parable about the value of trust. The main character, Bezert, has never left the safety and comfort of his island home. But when a box magically appears below his window, it proves too tempting not to take a look. By entering the box, the Bezert begins a journey of self-discovery in a dreamlike world of unknowns and mysterious inhabitants. Ultimately expanding the view of himself, his world and learning the value of trusting himself.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I was working as a freelance editorial illustrator when I created this book many years ago. At the time I also had just begun studying Ayurveda, a timeless   healing philosophy and sister science to Yoga. This book was inspired by a combination of other books I was reading at the time based on universal truths. I first created 8-10 illustrations based on these concepts, spread them on the floor of my studio and sat down to write about each one of them. The end result was the outline and origin of  The Bezert.

3) Why did you pick this genre? How did you come to be a children’s picture book author?
I have always considered myself to be a ‘conceptual communicator’. In other words, I love to take words, stories or verses and bring them to life in a visual way. This book is the result of the interplay between my own writings and my own visual interpretations. I really decided I wanted to be ‘an artist” when I was about 4 or 5 years old so that has been a pretty solid path for me, but although I have always enjoyed writing, I never really considered myself to be ‘a writer’. Now in hindsight, the combination seems perfectly appropriate! I also consider this book to be appropriate for “kids of all ages”. Although it appears to be for children, adults sometimes need colorful illustrations and poetic verse to help tap into their creative side as well.

4) Tell us about the illustrations. What is your style and how did the artwork come to be? What inspired you?
I have always been drawn to a mixed media type style. Collage was my medium of choice in art school and the more I worked, my style morphed into a collage/mixed media combination. I like to use as many tools as I can get my hands on. It keeps things fresh and interesting for me and I doubt that will ever change. Most of my work is still done by hand because it wouldn’t feel right if I couldn’t get my hands dirty and work with paint and pencils, but I also enjoy the polish of digital media and the ease of integrating pictures and images into hand rendered work.

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
I have always loved C.S. Lewis/Alice in Wonderland, Roald Dahl/Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, L. Frank Baum/Wizard of Oz and especially everything by Madeline L’Engle. A Wrinkle In Time is one of my all time favorites! All of these books opened up my world and conjured a certain special magical quality within me. It is what has inspired me and has helped me to create a healthy creative process.

6) Tell us about your audio book campaign for The Bezert.
As of October 21st, 2015 we have officially released the audio book version of The Bezert! It has been a long road to get here as we started work on the audio book shortly after The Bezert was published one full year ago. I had no trouble finding a brilliant narrator almost immediately. He was an artist ‘friend of a friend’ from Santa Barbara with the perfect voice, great character skills and a strong desire to narrate a book. We began work in the studio shortly before I learned that my publisher was going out of business and needed to close their doors. Needless to say, I then ran into some challenges with the many other extra financial expenses necessary to keep The Bezert promotion alive. After just coming off of winning 2 indie book awards in NY, and a fantastic book tour event in CA, I realized I was tapped out and needed to start an Indiegogo campaign in order to raise enough funds to complete the Audio Book project. I humbly asked 30 friends and supporters to play small roles in a video I produced and we pulled together a fabulous campaign earning over 60% of the necessary funds to complete the project and finalize the music & studio contracts. Through this process I wholeheartedly learned the importance of support, collaboration and trust.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
I really love the opportunity to go to schools and read to classrooms. Each experience is unique but always inspiring. I have yet to come home without being artfully challenged in some way by the kids, their fabulous questions and their insightful comments.

I also have really enjoyed each of the different creative events we have put together to bring The Bezert further in to the public eye. We have had dramatic readings by kids wearing masks, circus type events with actors miming along with the audio version, social media campaigns with people taking pictures of Bezert all over the world, and someday I’d love to create an interactive art experience where people can walk through an installation of the book and be fully immersed in the sensory experience through sight, sound, scent and touch.

8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book/s?
I hope this book inspires children (and adults) to dig deep into their own creativity. I hope it challenges them emotionally and gets them to think about concepts bigger than themselves. I also hope it gives them the reassurance that they too can write their own story and share it with the world in their own special way. And in the end maybe they will learn to trust just a little more, in both themselves and the greater world.

9) What advice do you have for aspiring author and illustrators on how to navigate this world of publishing?
Although it is a nine month process in itself, the actual act of publishing a book is just a very small part of the picture. The bigger job comes when you need to tirelessly promote yourself and your book at every given opportunity for as long as you possibly can. The thing I have found to be helpful is to use as much creativity as you can when you do this. To try not to seek out the way that your book fits in, but rather find out how it stands apart from the rest and market yourself from that platform. If it is a book filled with flowers, market to unique gift stores and garden shops, if it is about animals, find creative ways to talk to businesses who work with animals, humane society events, farms etc. In a bookstore you are just one book among thousands, but standing alone you can get much more positive attention and help build awareness in the process. And then never, never give up. Make the book your passion. Embrace it and intuitively follow every possible opportunity that presents itself.

10) What are you working on now?
I always have a few irons in the fire, but my main project after nearly a year of promoting The Bezert, is getting back in the studio and illustrating a second book in this series. Many years ago when I wrote The Bezert, I also penned a sequel. My next project is to illustrate and publish the second part of Bezert’s journey. As I said at the end of the first book…”Not The End” now I need to follow through on that promise.

Maria Knier

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Maria Knier and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Maria Knier
Where to purchase her book: Indiebound, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Maria’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Jolie Della Valle

Ants in the Pants GEORGIE AND THE ANTS IN THE PANTS BY JOLIE DELLA VALLE

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Georgie and the Ants in the Pants encourages children to embrace their individuality, silliness, and excitement – otherwise known as the “ANTS” in their pants! My book promotes dancing, laughing, and acting silly! The ultimate message of my book is to inspire children to believe in themselves!

2) What inspired you to write this book?
A few years ago I started Ants in the Pants, which originally was just a children’s clothing line that I created. I stopped making the clothes because it became too challenging. When my niece Sloane was born a few years later, she changed everything. She sparked me with inspiration that I never felt before! I wanted to create something to encourage her (and every child out there!) to believe in themselves. I started making the clothes again, and then the idea for Georgie and the Ants in the Pants came to me. The fact that wanted to be a good role model for Sloane was the force I needed to following through with it. I know the best way to teach kids is to lead by example, so this is what holds me accountable everyday throughout my journey.

3) Why did you pick this genre and how did you come to be a children’s picture  book author?
Georgie and the Ants in the Pants evolved out of my children’s clothing line, Ants in the Pants! Prior to this, I worked for another children’s company, and I always loved writing and poetry. I believe this is what I was meant to do… it just took some exploring of my creativity and whole lot of self discovery!

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you  as an author?
I trusted my illustrator completely. I had known and admired Leigh Ann for years as an artist. I gave her the manuscript and told her to work her magic! My only request was that she create a character of a little girl to look like Sloane! That was very important to me! She did an amazing job!

5) Tell us about your school visits and why do you love doing them? Do you ever  go anywhere without your ukulele?
Oh my goodness- I could write a novel here! I absolutely LOVE doing school visits! This is another example of how my business has evolved in a way I never would have expected. I love doing them because I get to see the impact I am capable of making first hand. The children are so cute, and they fill me up with so much fuel to keep going and reaching for the stars. I visit to inspire them, but the truth is that they are inspiring me! The BEST is when I whip out the ukulele and get to watch them dance their hearts out! My ukulele is with me during every author visit or event! I play and practice almost every day. I never sang or played an instrument before I wrote the book. Then, a theme song came to me, and I just had to follow through with that too.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
The most fulfilling thing is the fact that I made something that will apart of a child’s life forever. Many people have told me that Georgie and the Ants in the Pants is a story time favorite ! A person never forgets their favorite books from their childhood. Children’s books eventually become a reflection of so many special and cherished memories! It also makes me so happy to think that one day my great, great grandchildren will be able to read a book that their great, great, Grandmother wrote!

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I hope it makes their day brighter. I hope they feel encouraged to do the dance moves, and be silly, and have fun! I hope they are reminded of how special they are.

8) Tell us about your blog and what is it about?
My blog is a space for me to share special “Ant” news, poetry, and anything else that I feel is inspiring and uplifting for others!

9) Do you have any advice for aspiring authors about chasing their dreams?
Yes. Stop only thinking about it. Start being proactive. Take however many babysteps you need, but be sure to move forward a little bit everyday! Your future self will thank you so much! The place outside your comfort zone is magical.

10)What are you working on now?
My head spins at times because I have so many exciting things I’m working on. Creativity surely breeds more creativity. I have to focus on one thing at a time though, otherwise I nothing will get accomplished! The main things I’m currently working on right now include more song writing, my second book, manufacturing a “Georgie” stuffed animal (everyone asks for it!!), and expanding my reach by selling my book to Specialty gift and toy stores across the United States!

Jolie Della Valle

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Jolie Della Valle and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Jolie Della Valle
Where to purchase her book: I Love Ants in the Pants
Jolie’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Alison Edgson

Alison EdgsonPROFESSIONAL BIO:
Alison Edgson was born in County Down in Northern Ireland. She worked in the computer department of a bank before studying Visual Communication at the University of Ulster in Belfast. After graduating with a First, she and her husband Jeff moved to an old chapel in the Usk Valley in Wales where she now paints and illustrates children’s books and greetings cards. She spends most of her free time trying to tame the tangle of Welsh hillside that is her ‘garden’, indulging the cat and walking her two energetic Labradors, and loves running and generally getting involved in village life.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
It was a career change after 15 years working in the bank in IT – I got voluntary redundancy and took the opportunity to fulfil a long held dream to go to Art College. I completed a foundation year, followed by a 3 year honours degree in Visual Communication at the University of Ulster, graduating with a first in 2000. After that we moved to Wales and I started to pick up illustration work here and there until my agent Advocate offered to represent me. I’ve illustrated lots of children’s books since then and still love what I do – I’m very lucky!

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
My work is colourful and usually quite atmospheric and I also hope it’s humorous – that’s what I strive for. I work in acrylics with coloured pencils at the moment but am always trying to develop and try new things and am currently working on a new style which is really challenging me as it is very different and fresh and right out of my comfort zone!

3) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
Really not until I began to get real offers of work – before that I hoped I could but never felt confident that it would work out as I knew there was a lot of competition in the field.

4) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
I’ve always used a computer to some extent with my work although it is painted in a traditional way. My work is reproduced digitally and I am comfortable with using traditional methods as a starting point for an illustration that can be worked on further in Photoshop if necessary. Coming from an IT background I’m okay with that and technology is useful for me in other ways too – simplifying the early stages of a project and reducing the need to dash to the post office with bundles of artwork every week!

5) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
My family were all artistic especially my Mum who was able to draw horses beautifully – such a tricky subject! My Dad used to do big funny posters for his am-dram society too.

6) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
Once I’ve read their words (and I nearly always love the stories and get very excited when I read them for the first time) I try to  trust my instincts as I can usually visualise the story as I read it. Getting it down as I see it is the challenge!

7) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
I was very chuffed to win the Picture Book category of the Red House Children’s Book Awards for Yuck, That’s not a Monster – it was especially nice as the winning books were chosen entirely by children, and I got to meet Michael Morpurgo at the award ceremony!

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators?
Try to find out as much as you can about the industry and keep up to date with what’s popular – there’s lots of good information in the annual Writers and Artists yearbooks, and the Association of Illustrators is well worth joining to get free portfolio consultations and they run workshops and offer useful publications on the business side of things as well.

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted.
This is a spread from Waiting for Santa – I loved painting this atmospheric scene where the friends settle down in the snow and hope that Santa will see their tree and bring them presents

Waiting for Santa

This illustration is from I Want my Mummy, the challenge here was to make an interesting, warm and colourful bedroom scene and as it was the opening spread for the book to introduce the characters of Arthur and his mummy. Adding the little details – the toys and the décor are the fun part!

I Want my Mummy

Should you wish to know more about Alison, here are her pertinent details.

Website: Alison Edgson
Alison’s social media connections:

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Author & Illustrator Interview: Carin Bramsen

Just A Duck by Carin BramsenJUST A DUCK? BY CARIN BRAMSEN

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Duck has decided to be a cat, and tries to show his good friend, Cat, that he’s just like her. He strives gamely to climb a tree, but when his best efforts fail him, his confidence begins to ebb. In an attempt to cheer him, Cat accidentally lands in deep water, where they both learn just how lucky they are that Duck is a duck. This book is a sequel to Hey, Duck!, told in rhyming dialogue.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
A mental image of Duck trying to slink like his friend, Cat, was the first spark for Just a Duck. I already had a strong sense of Duck’s character from my previous book, Hey, Duck!. He is wildly enthusiastic, inclined to silliness, but with some instinctive wisdom, too. I could imagine his giving his all to being a cat, and struggling to prove it when challenged. I sympathized, suspecting this new goal might not serve him well – and that’s when I thought there might be a story in it.

3) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I’d love to help kids understand there are many, many different ways to shine, all eminently worthwhile.

4) How did you come to write and illustrate and why did you pick this genre?
My first picture book project was illustrating The Yellow Tutu, by my sister, Kirsten Bramsen. From then on, I was hooked on the possibilities and demands of the picture book form: the dance of words and images to tell a story, and the challenge of doing so in such a short space.

5) When you have an idea for a new book, what comes first? The words or the illustrations and what is your process of putting them together?
So far, my books have all started with a nascent sense of a scenario and a feeling for the characters involved. That might come to me with some words or an image attached, but at first it’s more about the general dynamics and where they might lead.

From there, words, images and plot ideas arrive, higgledy-piggledy – during a walk or shower or some household chore. I usually jot or sketch whatever pops up, knowing the selection and sorting will come later. At some point early on, I set up sixteen two-page spread templates in Photoshop. This will become my working dummy: the sketched version of the book. I scan sketches in, alter or move them as the story evolves, or sketch directly into the computer with a digital stylus and tablet. I can type right on the Photoshop dummy page – that’s sometimes where I write and rewrite the story. Words and pictures continually change and inform each other as I develop the book.

6) As a child, what books and/or authors/illustrators influenced you the most and why?
My first book love was Dr. Seuss. Oh, the places he drew! I felt he threw the world wide open with his wild spaces and infinite invention. I still want books to do that for me.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
The most fulfilling by far is hearing that a child enjoys my book, and feeling that maybe I’ve added a little happiness to someones life. I also relish the first stages of writing and sketching a book – that primal buzz when something new begins to take shape.

8) Describe your illustration style and when did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
My published illustrations so far are brightly colored, with tangible-looking textures and volumes. Recently, I’ve been playing around with a more linear style. Regardless of style, I love most to show character through expressions and movement. As to the second half of the question, I’m still trying to figure that out.

9) What are you working on now?
I’m now working on the third Duck and Cat book for Random House, as well as some other seedling projects.

THCarin BramsenANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Carin Bramsen and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Carin Bramsen
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Indie Bound and Barnes & Noble
Carin’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Michelle Worthington

My Brother Tom1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
This picture book is Tom’s story through the eyes of his big brother and was written to help brothers and sisters of the 20,000 premature babies born in Australia every year understand what is happening and encourage open and age appropriate discussion between family members. Proceeds of the sale of this book are donated to The Life’s Little Treasures Foundation.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I am the mother of 3 boys, all born prematurely. My youngest son, Tom, was born by emergency caesarean at 28 weeks with a birth weight of 1350g. He developed respiratory distress syndrome soon after birth and was ventilated. Subsequently, he developed bilateral pneumothoraces and a broncho-pleural fistula with total of 4 intercostal catheters inserted.  He also suffered a mild pulmonary haemorrhage. Tom was extremely unwell, fragile and distressed and stayed in hospital for 58 days. Tom is our little miracle.

3) Why did you pick this genre? How did you become a children’s book author?
Tom is one of many little babies who are born early in Australia every year. Older brothers and sisters of sick babies can be scared and confused, especially if parents find it hard to explain to them what is happening in an age appropriate way. This picture book is designed to be a tool to help parents and caregivers of older siblings talk about what is happening, know that their little brother or sister is in the safest and best place for them at that time and have hope that everything is going to be alright. I started writing children’s books because I believe in the power of words. My stories are empowering for kids and give hope and courage to be anything you want to be, as long as you believe in yourself.

4) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
Ann-Marie Finn did an amazing job on the illustrations for Tom’s book, considering how difficult the subject matter is to portray in a child friendly and colourful way. Her insight and compassion into the story are evident in the time and talent she shows throughout the creation process of working with an author on a book that is very special to them. It was important to me that Ann-Marie felt as much ownership of the picture book as I do.

5) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
Most of the stories I read when I was little were fantasy stories about escaping up faraway trees, living on a prairie or having a best friend named Diana. I used books to escape. The authors that influenced me then are not the same ones that influence me now as a picture book writer instead of a chapter book or novel writer. I love to learn more about writers who were the pioneers of picture books to see how they overcame obstacles, such as Beatrix Potter and Dr Seuss.

6) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author and why do you believe picture books can change the world?
Sharing your stories with children all around the world is an amazing privilege. With modern technology making international connections a daily occurrence, I can skype with kids at an international school in Beijing, then read stories to a group of kindy kids 5 minutes from home. Picture books can change the world because there are no rules or restrictions on what you can write about. Anything is possible.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
I hope children stay children for just a little bit longer after reading my books, and not be in such a hurry to grow up. It takes courage to be yourself and I hope they get confidence from my stories.

8) Tell us about your blog and what do you write about?
On my blog, I share insights into how I became a published author, current trends and changes in publishing and literacy and tips on marketing your books via social media. I love connecting with my readers and hope they find some inspiration in my blogs. More than anything, I want my blog to be useful.

9) What are you working on now?
My boys said to me I write too many books for girls. I told them before I was a Mum, I used to be a girl, So now, I am working on stories that help boys break gender stereotypes and give them confidence to follow their talents, no matter what they are. I always have some idea for a story spinning around my head, so I hope to share may more books with you in the future.

Michelle Worthington

THANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Michelle Worthington and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Michelle Worthington
Where to purchase her book: Michelle Worthington and Dragontales
Michelle’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Stephan Lomp

Stephan LompPROFESSIONAL BIO:
Stephan was born in Düsseldorf, Germany, where he studied visual communications at the University of Applied Sciences. Stephan has been drawing for print and web agencies, publishing houses and event marketing companies since 1996 and is very fond of the diversity of his profession. Stephan published his first children’s book in 2011 which became the starting point for his new found passion, to write and draw his own stories.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books after having a professional career drawing for print and web agencies, publishing houses and event marketing companies?
Wimmelbücher are picture books with crowded scenes and are very popular in Germany. I was very fascinated with them at a very young age and the images of artists like Ali Mitgutsch are branded in my mind. Comparable to these books outside of Germany are probably only the Where is Waldo? books. I saw that a befriended illustrator published a wimmelbuch at a brand new publisher which was specialized on these books. So I wrote a quick email to the publisher and got a chance to do a 4 spread book. It became a success and 2 other books followed. These books gained the attention of a UK Agent and after signing up with them I got the chance to do 3 more books for the UK market. The books took over my work time until I basically do only books now.

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
It’s hard to describe what you do subconsciously. I would say it’s colorful, bright, joyful and a bit edgy. The form of the characters are stylized and abstracted. I try to mix my influences of 50s and 60s flat shape illustrations with my personal twist.

3) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
My pencil drawing are very different to my digital art. I could not do my digital style analogously. My work is much more clean and crisper, which I try to break up again and make it look more handmade lately.

4) Who are your biggest influences in your artistic career and why?
This changes through the years. It used to be Comic Books from Europe as well as the US, artists like Möbius and Frank Miller, then Chris Ware and now it’s old school children’s books from Alain Gree as well as contemporary artists like Marc Boutavant.

5) When did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
This was always my intention to live from my talent, so I took every job I could find, even during my studies. And that includes everything in Graphic Design,  Webdesign and Programming.

6) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
It is key to talk to the client via telephone or in person. Only that way you can fully understand what they want. A lot of things can be misunderstood if you only communicate via email.

7) Tell us about the proudest piece of work you have done.
There is one image of a walking tree and a small boy walking through a dark forest. The illustration was done pretty quickly and without much thinking, but the reaction was huge, because everybody can see a story in there. I am currently working on it and hopefully this will be a book one day.

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators when first dealing with a publishing house?
If they have a script for you ask yourself if you really like it and if you really want to tell the story through pictures. If you have your own story, they will try to tweak it here and there. This can be a good thing and it can improve your work. But always ask yourself, is it still fun to draw and is it still your story at heart. Lastly take a close look at the contract. Do you get enough out of this? And do not work without getting royalties, because that’s your real payment in the long term.

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Follow That Car – the mouse following the gorilla on a big red background is a eye-catching image I am really proud of.

Follow That Car

Find The Frog – the park scene is a lot more colorful than my work before.

Find The Frog

Mamasaurus – this image was done just as a quick scribble and gained enough attention from a publisher so that I did a whole picture book around it.

Mamasaurus

Should you wish to know more about Stephan, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Stephan Lomp
Stephan’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Kirstin Lenane

Charlie and the CreatureCHARLIE AND THE CREATURE BY KIRSTIN LENANE

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about
Charlie is a mouse who lives in a small town and works at the local diner.  One day, a creature comes in for a cup of coffee.  Needless to say, the regular customers aren’t quite sure what to make of him.  But Charlie, being the service professional that he is, tries to make the creature feel at home.  The creature explains that he is on his way to see the world and can’t stay long.  This comment sets Charlie’s imagination spinning and inspires him to seek out an adventure of his own.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired by the day-to-day life in a small-town diner and the pleasure that comes from being part of such a community.  To the diner patrons, Charlie is more than just a waiter.  He is someone they count on seeing and speaking to every day.

When the creature enters the diner, he throws off the town’s homeostasis:  “They weren’t used to outsiders in town.  No one ever did much coming or going.”  Rather than shutting the creature out, I decided to have Charlie (and the other diner regulars) make the more interesting choice to invite the creature into their lives, to experience the initial discomfort of the unknown, and then to reap the benefits of being open to new people and new ideas.

3) How did you come up with the title or series of your book?
The title comes from the encounter between the two main characters, Charlie and the creature.  This encounter sets the story in motion.

4) Why did you pick this genre?
I used to write short stories for adult readers, but found that I had a lot more fun when I started adding pictures.  Combining drawings with writing seems to place me in a more natural place as a writer.  The drawings help the writing flow and vice versa.

At this time, I’m a little less clear about how to market an illustrated picture book for “all ages,” so I’ve been trying to write more for children, where there is a clear market.  I have a two-year-old son and I work as a counselor at two elementary schools, so this helps me get out of my adult head and into the world of children, but this is not always easy.  I think I am still learning who my audience is and how to write for them.

5) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
When I am creating a story, I begin by drawing pictures.  Because I am not a professionally trained illustrator by any means, the drawings often come out looking a little funny.  For example, a hat on a mouse’s head might end up looking more like a pancake.  Why is there a pancake on his head?  And so it begins….

If I had my way, I would draw with pencils and markers, and create books using paper, cardboard and glue.  However, in today’s “modern age,” I’ve also enjoyed the capacity to reach readers by creating books that can be digital.

6) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
As a child, I enjoyed books that didn’t treat me like a child, but as a person.  Some of my favorites included, the Frog and Toad books, The Velveteen Rabbit, the Frances books, George and Martha, books by William Steig and Tomi Ungerer.

7) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
By putting my human questions into the world of a mouse who lives in a made-up place in the world of a book, I am able to grapple with some serious, difficult things, in a manner that feels less heavy, but is liberating at the same time.

Being an author helps me to take life less seriously, and more seriously at the same time.  It’s a way of creating meaning.

8) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
Fear can make us very resistant to trying new things or considering new ideas, especially if we seemed to be doing just fine before these new ideas walked into our lives.  One of the messages of this book is that it is much more fulfilling to keep learning and to keep growing than it is to try to keep everything the same.

9) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
My favourite book is To The Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf.  There is beauty and joy in her characters, but there is also this sense that everyone is alone, as she moves through a scene and through each character’s private thoughts.  She captures people’s moments of connection to each other, as well as their inability to truly connect and relate.

10) What are you working on now?
I am writing a children’s book about a character who is obsessed with time and keeping lists.  Fortunately, there are three pesky rabbits who live outside and teach him a thing or two about stopping to enjoy the moment.

THKirstin LenaneANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Kirstin Lenane and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Kirstin Lenane
Where to purchase her book: Amazon
Kirstin’s social media connections:

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Illustrator Interview: Paul Kidby

Paul KidbyPROFESISONAL BIO:
Self taught artist Paul Kidby was born in West London in 1964.  He left school at 17 and worked as a commercial artist before becoming a freelance illustrator in 1986. He is best known for being the ‘artist of choice’ for the award winning writer Sir Terry Pratchett, and has designed the ‘Discworld’ book jackets since 2002 and has illustrated many ‘Discworld’ publications including ‘The Art of Discworld’ and best-selling ‘The Last Hero’.

Paul has also increasingly built himself a reputation as a sculptor and his limited edition bronzes are collected worldwide. Kidby original artwork and bronzes have been exhibited in London, Paris and widely around the U.K. Today Paul balances his output between Pratchett and his own projects and lives and works in the New Forest with his wife Vanessa.

1) How did you become an illustrator of children’s books or similar works?
I became an illustrator of books by working at various jobs in the commercial creative industry that gradually edged me another step on the ladder closer to my goal. My journey began at the age of 17 and included making false teeth, painting roller blinds, designing rice pudding and lightbulb packaging, creating greetings card designs and finally over 200 magazine covers – which paid the bills but was not  exactly creatively satisfying.  My life changed in 1994 when author Terry Pratchett was doing a book signing in the city of Bath, I queued for a few hours to meet him and handed him an envelope of my Discworld character designs.  Terry phoned me when he had completed his signing tour to say he liked my drawings and that we might work together.

2) Describe your illustration style and creative process. What makes your illustrations unique and different?
My style is traditional. I use old techniques and processes and don’t create my work digitally.  I use hard leaded pencils on smooth white paper or board and for colour I work in oils or acrylics, which I build up in thin layers.  I enjoy working tonally and my style is rather meticulous and detailed. I am inspired by The Golden Age of illustration when beautiful books were adorned by the works of Arthur Rackham, Edmund Dulac and their skilled contemporaries.

3) Has technology changed your trade and the way you work?
It has not changed the way I create my work but I scan my work and send digital files these days rather than sending the original artwork to the publishers.  Social networking has also changed my working habits, I now feel part of an online community rather than an isolated artist!

4) As a self-taught artist, when did you realise you could make a living from your talent?
I have always made a living from my talent since the age of 17, through hard work,  determination and my choice to initially settle for lower paid creative work rather than higher paid uncreative work.  I was, and still am, lucky to have a supportive family.

5) When collaborating with an author or a client, how do you ensure you are able to translate their words into art and convey the message they are trying to portray?
One of the best parts of illustration is the design process where the text is interpreted into line; I find this the most fun and also the most challenging aspect of the work.  I read the text carefully, make notes and, as a starting point, I often think of an actor who might play the character. Good communication with the client is important at this stage too, for example I originally drew the Discworld character Ponder Stibbons to look like John Lennon but when Terry saw my sketch he told me he imagined him to look more like Bill Gates, so I redesigned him accordingly!

6) Tell us about your collaboration with the late Terry Pratchett and what opportunities did you gain from such a partnership?
The chance to visualise the Discworld was a life changing opportunity for me.  In the early years I would meet Terry often to discuss ideas and show him my sketches.  We shared a fascination for history, folklore and a slightly off the wall sense of humour which enabled us to connect our mediums in a happy union.  The chance to illustrate the book jackets and internals for so many of his books was an amazing privilege for me and I will always be grateful to him for allowing me to wander his world with my sketchbook.

7) Who or what continues to inspire your work from painting to sculpturing?
I am inspired by the natural world: the flora and fauna of the landscape around me and the folklore of The British Isles. I enjoy and take inspiration from attending galleries and exhibitions of all sorts of art. I have a large collection of art and reference books and I enjoy watching  films to see how others have created characters, costumes and environments for the big screen.

8) What advice do you have for aspiring illustrators when first dealing with a publishing house?
My advice is to maintain good polite communication and be punctual with schedules and deadlines. It’s also important to remember you are working as part of a team, therefore you must expect your work to be critiqued, changes requested and digital alterations with colour tones etc made by the design team, it’s part of the process and not a reason to take umbrage!

9) Please provide a short brief of each of the pictures you have submitted
Colour artwork for the book jacket of The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett.

The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett

Colour artwork for the book jacket of Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville.

Diary of a Mad Brownie by Bruce Coville

Discworld Massif, a large scale painting featuring over 70 favourite characters from Terry Pratchett’s Discworld.

Terry Pratchett’s Discworld

Auld Goggie, a character from The Charmed Realm book by Paul & Vanessa Kidby.

The Charmed Realm book by Paul & Vanessa Kidby

Should you wish to know more about Paul, here are his pertinent details.

Website: Paul Kidby
Paul’s social media connections:

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Author Interview: Toni Brisland

DemiChat and the City of GoldDEMICHAT AND THE CITY OF GOLD BY TONI BRISLAND

1) Please provide a short excerpt of what your children’s book is about.
Famous archaeologists, the Jaspers, DemiChat and Lord Flannery Beagle’s owners, after their amazing discoveries in Egypt (Book 2 in the Series, DemiChat and the Lost Mummy) are invited on an international Academic Tour to lecture about their findings.

While in Peru they meet Carlos who persuades them to visit Machu Picchu and trek into the Amazon Jungle to search for the Incan City of Gold – he leads them into danger!. The city, under the protection of a native tribe and a wily jaguar, evades them until Amazonian Warriors show them a hidden passage through a volcano.

2) What inspired you to write this book?
I was inspired to write the series by my love of Sherlock Holmes, my Himalayan cat, Jade, and my niece’s beagle, Shiloh. I love animals and thought it would be fun to write a spoof about a cat-and-dog team playing the immortal Sherlock and Doctor Watson.

I commenced the series with the intention of a trilogy: the first set in Europe, the second in Egypt and actually had 2 plans for the third book. With the help of Teacher-Librarian friends we surveyed children who had read the first two books and asked them if they preferred a sequel set in the Amazon Jungle or New York. The resounding reply was in favour of the Amazon and Incans and Warriors – hence, DemiChat and the City of Gold was written.

3) How do the illustrations complement your book? What was important to you as an author?
My digital illustrator is Cheryl De Los Reyes Cruz, an American digital artist who understands the importance of colour and dash and action for an ebook for the age group. I think Cheryl has done an amazing job and extends the story through her brilliant work.

4) As a child, what books and/or authors influenced you the most and why?
Fantasy authors, Ursula Kroeber Le Guin, particularly the first four Earthsea books and J.R.R.Tolkien. Why? Their books made my imagination soar and gave me hope that in the constant struggle between good and evil that good will win out.

5) What is the most fulfilling thing about being an author?
Being totally absorbed in my passion for writing and knowing that my readers are transported to places and meet characters that they may not experience otherwise as they see the world of my books from my unique perspective.

6) What’s the greatest compliment you ever received from a reader?
From a father of a reader … “your DemiChat book was the first book my 10-year old son ever finished”.

7) What do you hope children will take away with them after reading your book?
A love of animals, of adventure, a belief that anything is possible and that you can create your own destiny.

8) Who is/are your favourite author/s as an adult and why?
My favourite authors are adult authors: Joseph Conrad, D.H. Lawrence, Hermann Hesse, Kathryn Heyman, Richard Flanagan. Why? Apart from being wonderful storytellers, their imagery is rich and detailed, they are structural experts and they force me to think about the bigger issues in life.

9) How would you define ‘success’ as a writer?
Writing a piece of work that is the best a writer can do (no matter how many edits need to be done and how long it takes to write it), says everything you want to say and is written as if it is the last thing you might write.

10) What are you working on now?
I’m writing a novel for adults.

THToni BrislandANK YOU FOR LETTING US GETTING TO KNOW YOU!
Should you wish to know more about Toni Brisland and would like to purchase her book, here are all her pertinent details.

Website: Toni Brisland
Where to purchase her book: Amazon, Dragon Pencil & Toni Brisland
Toni’s social media connections:

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A Brand New Day: A Banana Split Story by A. S. Chung and Illustrated by Paula Bossio

A Brand New Day, children’s picture book about divorce receives a beautiful review from The Picture Book Review!

The Picture Book Review

A Brand New Day is an uplifting and beautifully illustrated story about a little girl’s life with her parents after the divorce.  It does a marvelous job of reminding us all that a parent’s marital status has nothing to do with how much they love their children.

Title: A Brand New Day:  A Banana Split Story

Author:  A. S. Chung

Illustrator:  Paula Bossio

Pigeonhole Books, July 2014, Fiction. ISBN: 978-0992538200

Suitable For Ages: 3 – 8+

Themes/Topics:

Family, Divorce, Parents

Opening:   

“I love Mondays and Tuesdays when I get to stay with my Dad.  I get to help make dinner with recipes from his notepad.”

Brief Synopsis:

A little girl tells us, in verse, about what her life is like on the alternating days that she spends with her mother and father.

From A Brand New Day. Images Courtesy of A.S. Chung.

From A Brand New Day. Images Courtesy…

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