Hello, Mike, thanks for joining me here to talk about what’s new with you!
Hi Dylan, I’m excited for being here, thanks for having me. There’s a LOT new right now around my studio in various stages of development that I’m looking forward to sharing with you and your readers.
Tell us a little bit about The Dino Files books written by Stacy McAnulty that you’ve been illustrating.
This is a wonderful series that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed illustrating. The series revolves around Frank and Sam, who discover Peanut, a real LIVE baby dinosaur. They go through different adventures trying to keep their dino discovery a secret all while learning that maybe they’re not the only ones to have ever seen a real live dinosaur. They’re a great step-into-reading series that I think kids and dino lovers will enjoy.
And today, A Tiger Tail, is officially released from Simon and Schuster. Tell us about that!
YES! A TIGER TAIL is the next book that I’ve written and illustrated. It’s about a little girl named Anya, and how she wakes up one morning to discover that she now has a Tiger Tail – which is very different from pony tails and pig tails that girls normally have. The anxiety amps up to even higher levels because it’s also Anya’s first day of school and she figures she can’t possibly go to school with a real tiger tail attached to her back end. So she tries all sorts of things to figure her “situation” out. It’s a story that I’m quite proud of and I hope readers of all ages will really enjoy relating to – even if they’ve never had a tiger tail themselves.
It’s a busy year, because you also did the illustrations for Dev Petty’s sequel to I Don’t Want to Be a Frog. Did you anticipate a sequel?
When you enjoy working on a story as much as I did with FROG, you finish it wishing it went on a bit more. So while I never anticipated a sequel, I was so happy to learn that there would be a second. The excitement only grew as I heard rumors of what Dev was cooking up – her writing just kills me.
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
Hmmm, well, despite my love for ice cream and milkshakes, I’ve never had a cavity before. I even had an ongoing challenge with my brother since we were young to see who would be the first to get one, and I’m happy to say I’ve recently won (he claims it’s only a small cavity though).
If you weren’t writing/illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?
That’s a hard question – to think of doing something else other than what you dream about doing! When I was younger, I wanted to be a marine biologist, or more specifically, Jacques Cousteau. I loved watching that and always thought it would be a fascinating job. Being a National Geographic photographer was also on that list. Not that I’d actually be doing those things if I couldn’t be writing or illustrating books, if I wasn’t trying to make it in animation I’d probably be doing some form of carpentry or trade. I really enjoy building things – in fact, I’m finishing up a bed project as soon as this interview is over!
How did your career as an author/illustrator start?
Ha! I think it really started when I was young enough to order Calvin and Hobbes from my Scholastic Book club flyers. I loved drawing and writing comics and stories. I didn’t ever really put Author/Illustrator into my “reality job list” though. Even working in animation seemed very far off for someone growing up in the Alberta prairies – the internet hadn’t shrunk the world down yet! However, I was extremely fortunate right out of high school with a job illustrating speech therapy products and then with an in-house small local publisher. It was there that I learned how much I loved making books and more importantly, that it could be a career option! So when our first child was born, I left my job to pursue a freelance career. I ended up self-publishing my first book (The Gophers in Farmer Burrows’ Field) and then moving on to the traditional publishing route, after I signed with my wonderful agent, Jennifer Rofé. It was her along with the help and guidance of a few really great friends I met in publishing (Dan Santat and James Burks), some incredible editors and ADs, who all really helped me in my craft. It’s been a really incredible journey and I owe thanks to a lot of folks for all the support, wisdom and opportunities I’ve been given.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
Later this year there’s going to be that second FROG book with Dev (I DON’T WANT TO BE BIG), and I think the same day the third DINO FILES will also be released. Currently I’m finishing another third followup book with a certain character that I may have just mentioned having a sequel to, as well as a new book with Jill Esbaum that’s very fun! Finally, I am writing more stories, and hope to have my second book with Simon and Schuster finished in the next year. I consider every single day I get to do this as a privilege that I hope will continue the rest of my life!
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
This is typically one of those moments when the author types I aspire to, drop those life-changing wisdoms and thoughts that stick with you for years to come. Please just pretend I did the same.
Thank you, Mike , for joining me here!
Thank you, Dylan, for having me. Also, thank you and all parents, teachers, and librarians, for being champions for our next generation and equipping them with the desire to read and dream.