- Q: How long does it take to write a book?
A: It depends on the book. I've written a manuscript (and re-written it many times) in as few as three months. Sometimes it takes a lot longer—several of my story ideas have been with me for over ten years now, and I still haven’t decided how best to tell them.
- Q: Where do you get your ideas?
A: Ideas can come from lots of different places: things that you like to do or you've done in the past, things that you see that make you curious, or things that people you know say or do. There are lots of ideas everywhere, and all you have to do is start paying attention to things around you. Also, when you get an idea, write it down in a notebook or a sketchbook, so you won’t forget it!
- Q: I’ve written a children’s book. Is it possible that you might be able to illustrate it for me?
A: At this time, I’m focusing on my own writing. But even if that weren’t the case, it’s the editor and art director at a publishing house who choose the illustrator for a book. You don’t need to have an illustrator with you before you submit a manuscript for publication—the most important thing is that your story is as strong as it can be.
- Q: Would you be willing to read my manuscript and give me some advice about it?
A: Though I enjoy giving critiques, I’ve been advised not to read manuscripts any more. It could get very awkward if someone sent me a manuscript similar to something I was working on!
- Q: What were your favorite books when you were a kid?
A: My favorite book when I was very young was Richard Scarrys Best Word Book Ever. Other early favorites were The Wonderful Treehouse by Wende and Harry Devlin, Why I Built the Boogle House, by Helen Palmer, Drummer Hoff by Barbara and Ed Emberley, and Fortunately, by Remy Charlip. When I was a little older I loved Jean Craighead Georges My Side of the Mountain, Helen Bushs Mary Annings Treasures, and all of the childrens books by Jane Langton (The Diamond in the Window, The Swing in the Summerhouse, etc.). I also enjoyed reading Edward Eagers books (including Half Magic and The Well Wishers).
- Q: Of the books you’ve done, whats your favorite?
A: I’d bet most authors or illustrators would answer that whatever they’re working on when you ask the question is their favorite. My favorite book so far is Bats at the Library.
A: Sometimes Ill work on an idea for a while, and then decide that it either doesnt really work as a book, or isnt something that I want to spend a lot of time on. But Ive definitely found that persistence is the best way to succeed.
- Q: Does your hand hurt after you draw a book?
A: If Im working seven days a week to get a book finished, my hand will start to hurt a bit. But I can paint or draw for eight or more hours a day and not have it bother me. What gets really tired is my head. Its hard to concentrate on something for such a long time.
- Q: Why did you become an illustrator?
A: Ive always loved coming up with ideas and putting them down on paper, whether it was writing or doodling. Becoming an illustrator seemed the best way to do something I loved (and make a living doing it!).
- Q: What do you like most about writing?
A: I think what I like most is the idea that I can make up a story and if I do it well, it will actually seem real to some readers
- Q: Does writing and illustrating books become easy?
A: Mostly, no. Writing and drawing take a lot of time and effort, and it never feels easy. But at the same time, as I do more and more books, I feel better about the amount of work it takes to make a book—I think I have more confidence about it, and it has become more fun than it was in the beginning.
- Q: When you were young, were teachers impressed by your stories?
A: No, I don’t think so. I think I was probably seen as a fairly creative student, and I clearly loved to write and draw, but I don’t think I was ever considered “a future author/illustrator.”
- Q: Which one do you like better, writing or drawing?
A: It’s hard to say—they’re so different from each other. When I’m working on a long story, I sometimes forget that I’m writing, and feel as though I’m really living the story I’m writing. When I’m drawing, I’m almost always aware that I’m drawing, and trying hard for a certain kind of effect. So in some ways, the drawing feels harder…
- Q: Have you ever written a book about seasons or holidays?
A: No—so far, the stories I want to tell havent been tied into seasons or holidays. I do think itd be fun to do a Halloween book some day, but there are lots and lots of them already. Also, if you do a season/holiday book, youre limiting when people read your stories to that time of year.
- Q: I like how you illustrate because you color in the lines good.
A: Thanks! It takes a lot of practice to make drawings or paintings look good—keep on practicing with your own drawings!