Monthly Archives: February 2018

Interview with Stephanie Graegin!

Next up on my series of interviews is Stephanie Graegin! I’m thrilled Stephanie is here with me today!

Hello, Stephanie! Thank you for joining me here!

Happy to be here!

Tell us a little bit about all of the books you have coming in 2018!

In February, the third book in the Heartwood Hotel Series by Kallie George will be out. This book is titled, Better Together. If you are unfamiliar, this chapter book series stars Mona the Mouse, a hard working, brave and quick witted young maid who works at the Heartwood Hotel. It’s a really great story and series, and I feel incredibly fortunate I get to experience this world through my drawings. The fourth and final book in the Heartwood Hotel series, Home Again, is out this July. I’m really going to miss drawing these charming characters.

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Also in July—my favorite little, brave raccoon, Super Manny, is back in Super Manny Cleans Up! written by Kelly Dipucchio. This time, Super Manny and his friend Gertie are standing up for their community and the environment along with having fun, imaginative, adventures while wearing capes!

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In September, I have a picture book coming out written by Mary Lyn Ray called, The Thank You Book. This book is about gratitude for little things, for family, for friends, for home and for the earth. Mary Lyn Ray’s text is beautiful and poetic—it left a lot a room for me to play around and create without having to adhere to a traditional story arc.

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What was it like illustrating Elvis Presley’s text, Love Me Tender?

It was a really great experience! It was, hands down, the shortest period of time I’ve ever had to complete a book (the whole thing was done in just a few months). The timeline forced me to not procrastinate, to just sit down and draw quickly. I worked closely with my editor and art director, plotting out the images that would go with the lyrics. We decided early on we wanted several diverse families represented, and the book would take you through the sweet milestone moments: from the hospital nursery to crawling and walking and up to preschool. It’s really a love letter from a parent to a child. I love the challenge of illustrating picture books that don’t have a traditional story line.

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Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

I have! I’m tilted slightly more to the illustrating-side. Drawing has been my favorite activity since I was old enough to hold a crayon. I remember back in elementary school I enjoyed writing and illustrating little stories—I still have some of them. One of these books I did when I was around  8 was about beavers and bunnies playing baseball, The Magic Baseball Bats. It won a young author award at my school in Indiana. It was around this time that I started to think I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator (or a zookeeper), when I grew up. In college I studied fine art, though everything I made was a kidlit-esq masquerading as fine art.

What inspires your creativity?

The world around me. Animals, nature, the seasons, long walks, the city, and a really nice pencil. The process of making is really taking the everyday and slowly building upon it—I guess to the point where animals can dress themselves.

 

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

I’m obsessed with collecting picture books! I currently have close to 500 and they are from all around. I have some from Spain, Belgium, Netherlands, Japan, Egypt, and on…though I didn’t actually travel to get them. There are so many super talented people around the globe making great picture books.  I’m in the process of cataloging them.

If you weren’t writing and illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

I think I might be an editor or a librarian, or something in the book world. I just love reading.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

I just want to keep drawing and making books. I love what I do and the experience of having to put pictures with words. It’s challenging and rewarding—there’s a certain satisfaction of throwing yourself into a project that is unquenchable.

I will also be authoring and illustrating more of my own books. I’ve learned a tremendous amount by working with talented authors and editors and I’d like to use those lessons to unlock all the stories I have inside of me.

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

Thank you for the opportunity to chat! Thank you Dylan for your support of all of us in the kidlit world!

If you’re interested in seeing more of my work, you can here:

https://www.instagram.com/sgraegin/

https://www.graegin.com/

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Interview with Samantha Cotterill!

I’ve got some stellar interviews lined up on the blog for the next few weeks, and I’m thrilled that Samantha Cotterill is here to kick things off!

Hello, Samantha! Thank you for joining me here!

Thank you, Dylan!   It’s such an honor to be here!

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Tell us a little bit about all of the books you have coming in 2018!

2018 is an extremely exciting year for me, as I have three wonderful books coming out over the next three seasons.  February 13th will see the release of Jinx and Doom Fight Crime, written by the amazing Lisa Mantchev. This is my first book done in 3-d format, and I’m just ecstatic with how it turned out.

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Once Upon a Slime, written by debut author Andy Maxwell, slimes stores everywhere July 3rd. I know there are probably many parents out there ready for the slime craze to die down a bit, but we are enthusiastically encouraging all the kids out there to keep it going strong (sorry parents).

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Finally, Just Add Glitter by Angela Diterlizzi will hit shelves this September with sprays of glitter vs the goop of slime.  I will say that was my most challenging book to date, as in addition to the 3-d approach, piles and piles of real glitter filled each spread. (Our family is still in therapy trying to heal over the specks of glitter that are still present in every nook and cranny of our home.)

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Tell us about your very unique and amazing illustration process.

It depends on the book, and with my ADD, sticking to one method gets boring pretty quickly. I like to vary things up, while trying to be aware the entire time of the common threads that need to be sewn into every book I make. Pattern and linework have quickly become those threads for me, and it’s my goal that they take center stage no matter the medium of the work itself.  Whether the work is 2-d or 3-d, my approach to linework now is always the same. I have tried digital methods of drawing, but find the good ol’ nib pen and ink bottle to be my preferred method. Once dry, they are scanned in to be colored digitally via Photoshop.  For the 3-d books, the process continues as I print, cut, glue, and set up each diorama to be photographed.

Have you always been into writing and illustrating?

I studied bacteriology and virology for 5 years at uw-Madison, but I did eventually admit to my mother that she was right and agreed to go to art school like she told me to 😉. A good 20 years was spent as a ceramicist, oil painter, and fiber artist (ADD make more sense now?) before taking a good 8-year hiatus to focus on my family. When I hit 40, I decided it was time to get back out there, and was soon approached by the amazing Kirsten Hall, who thought my illustrations could lend themselves well to picture books.  So first my mum told me what to do, and then my agent. I need to listen to people more often.

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

Hmmm…..I accidentally shut down all the computers in Helen C White Library at UW-Madison 1 hour before closing during finals week? And all because I sent an email asking about a party.  My computer screen froze…I absent mindedly reached under the desk, turned the power strip off, and within seconds heard the shrieks of many a students’ final essays disappearing. Let’s just say I made a very stealth and quiet exit.

If you weren’t writing and illustrating books, what do you think you’d be doing?

Diagnosing everyone’s food borne illnesses.

What can readers expect from you in the future?

More books! I have a wonderful series coming out over the next couple of years that’s very near and dear to my heart. I cannot wait until I have the green light to share those details! I am also illustrating a book for debut author Jonathan E. Jacobs, entitled The Secret Rhino Society, which will debut Spring 2020.

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

Just thank you to all of the kids, readers, librarians, publishers, editors, interviewers 😉, that have already made this career so fulfilling.

Come Right In! May I Come In? Blog Tour Guest Post by Marsha Diane Arnold

“Come Right In!”

It’s always a pleasure to share book news with Dylan Teut. Maybe it’s because he himself is one of the most sharing people I know and a champion of children’s literature. Maybe it’s because Dylan feels a bit like a neighbor, I growing up in Kansas and he living in Nebraska. Whatever the reason, I’m delighted to be here to share about my newest book May I Come In? Thank you, Dylan!

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May I Come In? actually launches from Sleeping Bear Press tomorrow, on February 15, but I’ve already shared it with students from California to Connecticut to India via Skype. It feels a bit like I’m sharing a secret with them and they are more than happy to be in on it!

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Sharing May I Come In? with first graders at the Aga Khan Academy in India. 

I’ve spoken with classes at this school several times. It’s always a pleasure.

 It’s the simplest of stories, really, Raccoon searching for an open door, a friend to spend a scary night with. It’s a story about inclusion, sharing, and empathy. Jennie Poh’s delightful illustrations are also simple, perfect for the youngest readers and filled with a brightness that keeps the story light, rather than scary.

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What children find interesting and somewhat surprising is that although Raccoon is afraid of the thunderstorm, he goes outside anyway to search for emotional support, a friend to spend this frightening time with. Sadly, when he knocks on the doors of Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck, he’s turned away! Then he sees a light in the darkness, “glimmering and shimmering.” That light represents hope to Raccoon. But when he approaches the door he becomes doubtful and when the door is opened to a house full of rabbits, he’s more doubtful still. Mother Rabbit is used to a crowded home though and she invites Raccoon right in, for there is always room for another friend. Our dear Raccoon moves from fear and discomfort to joy and serenity.

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The little twist in the book is when Possum, Quail, and Woodchuck, who each turned Raccoon away, are seen first as shadows approaching Rabbit’s home and then sheepishly standing at the door because they too have realized, “Being alone on a night like tonight is scary.”

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Many of my stories take scores of drafts and lots of tweaking, but my May I Come In? folder shows only three drafts. My stories are often called character-driven and I often start my stories with a character. This particular story is an example of my following my character, who leads me through his story and shows me which way to go. Interestingly, my main character was originally Badger. The main reason I transformed Badger into Raccoon was because I had other stories with badgers as the main character and wanted to spread the spotlight around a bit. And I do like raccoons. When I lived in the country in California, they often visited our back door, and here in Florida, they appreciate our pond very much.

 Publisher Weekly recently announced news of another Sleeping Bear Press book which is planned for spring of 2019 and I couldn’t be happier. The staff at Sleeping Bear Press is a delight to work with and they do so much to help readers find their authors’ books. The name of the 2019 book is Badger’s Seeds. Yes, one of those badger stories.

It’s Valentine’s Day today, a perfect day to open our hearts, which is what my book is about. I hope you read a copy of May I Come In? with someone and do just that.

 More information about my books and author visits may be found atwww.marshadianearnold.com and more information on following your characters through your story at my course, Writing Wonderful Character-Driven Picture Books athttp://www.childrensbookacademy.com/writing-character-driven-stories.html

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