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.
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!
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.
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.
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: