Bossy Babies: Interview with Marla Frazee

Hey Marla!! Thanks for joining me here to talk about The Bossier Baby and more!

Hi Dylan! Nice of you to ask me. You are like a late night TV host, which makes me the nervous guest. 

Tell us a little bit about The Bossier Baby.

Okay. I’d love to. The Bossier Baby is the Boss Baby’s new little sister, and she is even bossier than the Boss Baby ever was. Hard as that is to believe. Heres a character sketch:

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Here is her arrival at the company:
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And here she is exhibiting her finely tuned CEO skill set:
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What made you want to tell this story? Did you always have a sequel in mind when you wrote The Boss Baby? 

I did not ever have a sequel in mind. Sequels to books are often suggested to those of us who write and illustrate books. The suggestions come from kids, teachers, booksellers, moms, dads, our offspring, neighbors. And when I hear these suggestions, I’m like, yeah, yeah. But one morning, when I happened to be on vacation with my entire extended family all blobbed together in one huge ratty beach house, I received a text from my agent Steve Malk, who told me that his wife, Alex, thought Boss Baby should have a new baby sister. So here was my agent’s wife suggesting a sequel. That hadn’t happened before! Steve and Alex have a boss named Sylvie, so I’m sure Sylvie played a role in this, too. My first thought was, as usual, to dismiss it. Then I went for a long walk up the beach. A first sentence popped into my head. Then another. I pulled out my phone and started writing them down. By the end of the day (I went on a lot of walks that day), I had enough of a text that I could see that it could actually grow up and become a real book.
Here’s a screenshot from that night:

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I was blown away by the illustrations in this book. Tell us a little about your process.

I do lots of character sketches and lots of thumbnail sketches. I make many small dummies, most of which I abandon.

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Eventually, I get a sense of the characters, the pagination, the setting, the size/format of the book, and the story arc, and then I make a tight full-size sketch dummy. Allyn Johnston (VP and Pub of Beach Lane Books, imprint of S&S) has been my editor through 14 picture books. She is there with me at every step. Once I begin the finished paintings, we have worked most of the kinks out and then it is a matter of execution. These paintings were done with black Prismacolor pencil and gouache.

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There’s much buzz about The Boss Baby movie that’s coming soon! What has that process been like? What has your involvement been like?

Oh, man, I’m all abuzz about The Boss Baby movie, too! It is incredibly exciting. Teams of creative, passionate, brilliant people have spent years dedicating themselves to this project and showering it with their talent and expertise. I am blown away by that. Dreamworks has been very generous in allowing me to see things at various stages, but I am definitely not involved –– I’m more like the parent sitting in the stands, cheering wildly from the sideline.

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Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

Yes, I guess I have.

What’s the most exciting part of your job?

Well, if by exciting you mean experiencing an intense emotion, I would say that it is the constant feeling (pressure) of whether or not I can come up with another viable idea and then pull it off. I never, ever want to produce intentionally careless or meaningless books. Or, god forbid, inadvertently rip someone off. I recently stopped work on a project because it was too similar to a book that beat me to the punch. It was very frustrating. But being derivative or unoriginal is something that scares the crap out of me. So that keeps my job exciting as hell.

 

What inspires your creativity?

I need to have alone time, people time, family time, and pet time. I need nature time, reading time, fitness time, and downtime. Basically if I keep things relatively balanced out, I can be creative. If I don’t, then I’m worthless.

What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?

That I once dressed up as a Tabasco bottle for Halloween.
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If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I would be living on the island of Maui, working as a barista. I still may do that.

What can readers expect from you in the future, after The Bossier Baby? 

I’m writing and illustrating a picture book about a dog who has some trouble getting along with other dogs. And I’m illustrating a new series of chapter books by Sara Pennypacker about a 4th grade science kid named Waylon, who is a classmate of Clementine.

Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?

Just what a great guy you are, Dylan, but I suppose readers of this blog already know that.
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One thought on “Bossy Babies: Interview with Marla Frazee

  1. I am a huge fan of The Boss Baby (& Marla!) and have been eagerly waiting for this sequel. It looks just as hilarious as the first one. Can’t wait to read it!! Thanks, Dylan 🙂

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