Hey Beth! Thanks for joining me here to talk about your 2018 picture book, Bub!
Always a pleasure to visit, Dylan!
Tell us a little bit about Bub.
Bub is the quintessential middle child—except he’s a little monster. Try as he might, he finds it hard to be seen and heard by his loud and distracted little monster family—that is, until he decides to take matters into his own hands…er, claws. Mayyybee there’s some magic, but, basically, Bub goes unseen to be seen! Bub is really for anyone who feels caught in the middle, and is as much for families as it Is for an individual child.
Tell us a little bit about your process.
Rather than a story idea, I usually come up with a character or characters first (by way of, what I like to call, procrastidoodling). Then the story flows from there. But I would have to say that Bub was a fair combination of character-idea and story-idea.
I had been toying with the idea of a misbehaving little monster family (and had been drawing a lot of little monsters), while at the same time was thinking about doing a story about a middle child. My editor at Simon and Schuster suggested I combine the two. . . and out came BUB!
Have you always been into writing and illustrating?
I studied art history in college, and then went on to become an architect. Getting married and having kids bumped me off my creative track for a while, but as soon as my youngest entered kindergarten, I dove into art (since at that point it wasn’t practical for me to return to architecture). I worked as a portrait artist and fine artist, and completed certification in scientific illustration. It turns out that all this, as well as my training as an architect, was great prep for building picture books!
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
I’d have to say it’s coming up with the with the characters. It’s fun because it involves drawing and, at first, the sky’s the limit! When they appear on the page, I make lots of notes and keep drawing them until a story begins to emerge. The second most fun, once I have the story figured out (which I think is the hard part), is winnowing away at the text and fitting it and the preliminary drawings into a dummy. It’s like solving a challenging but fun puzzle.
What inspires your creativity?
I’m not really sure. I think creativity is a combination of mystery and hard work. Things can be hard-thought, or come out of nowhere. But one thing I know is that it’s something I can’t seem to let go of, in spite of the ups and downs. One of my favorite quotes is from Maurice Sendak: “I do it because I can’t not.”
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
Well, since BUB is about being in the middle, here are two middle things: One is, I’m not a middle child. I am the youngest. Second, my middle name, Rose, was actually my last name before I got married. Sometimes I wish I hadn’t changed it. Beth Rose take up so much less space 😉
If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?
Playing the banjo.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
I recently signed a contract with Simon & Schuster for another picture book! Henny and Peddles will have a companion . . . COWIE. Yes, I’m back to farm animals. Cowie (who, by the way, is not a cow), will be released in early 2020.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
Only to say thank you, Dylan, as well as all the other people like you who work so hard on behalf of children and children’s literature. You make the world a better place.