Q&A with Heather Lang

Swimming with Sharks by Heather Lang and illustrated by Jordi Solano explores the true story of Eugenie Clark, a groundbreaking female scientist from the 1940s who studied sharks and changed how we viewed the creatures.swimming-with-sharks_cvr

We were luck enough to sit down with Heather and discuss Swimming with Sharks, the importance of biographies about strong women, and her own experience with sharks.

 

Q: Why did you decide to write books about strong women?

A: My first picture book biography, Queen of the Track: Alice Coachman, Olympic High-Jump Champion, came from a search for personal inspiration. I’d received tons of rejections for my fiction and was on the verge of giving up on becoming a children’s book author. Researching and writing about Alice Coachman, a woman who overcame poverty and segregation and discrimination, inspired me to hang in there and follow my own dream.

The women I write about motivate me every day to step outside of my comfort zone, be brave, and persevere. My hope is that my books will inspire boys and girls to do the same.

 Q. How do you do research for your books?

A. Every book is a different research adventure! I always search for historic newspaper articles, photos, videos, and oral histories. And I try to do experiential research. For this book, I learned to scuba and went diving and snorkeling. Sure there are tons of underwater videos online, but there’s nothing like experiencing it first hand!

Experts in the field can also be so incredibly helpful. In the case of Swimming with Sharks, I had the luxury of meeting and emailing with Eugenie Clark—an honor I will never forget.

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Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: The easiest part for me is diving into the research. The hardest part is directing my research. It’s amazing how short a thirty-two or forty page picture book becomes when you are looking at a person’s life. The challenge is determining how to focus the book.

For example, while researching Swimming with Sharks, I discovered so many amazing stories from Genie’s childhood that shaped who she became, and those alone could have been a book. I also considered focusing on the obstacles and the discrimination she experienced early in her life as a woman and as a Japanese-American. But when I met with Genie, it all became clear. She didn’t like to dwell on the discrimination. She wanted to talk about her work as a scientist and her love for and fascination with fish. I knew I needed to focus on her curiosity and her daring discoveries—specifically her work with sharks. That was the legacy she hoped to leave. Luckily there is room for some of the other information in the back matter, and I rely heavily on my website to share the rest.

 

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Q: Were you ever afraid of sharks?

A: YES! I grew up with the movie Jaws, and my fear of sharks was intense. If I couldn’t see the bottom of the ocean, I didn’t like to put my foot down. And forget about swimming out into deeper waters. My own fear is what attracted me to Eugenie Clark. She was never afraid of sharks and spent her life trying to replace fear with facts. It was challenging and rewarding to research and write about a personal fear—a fear I discovered was completely unfounded.

Q: What did you learn about sharks while doing research for Swimming with Sharks?

A: I learned so many cool and interesting facts about sharks. But most importantly I learned from Genie that sharks are “magnificent and misunderstood.” Sharks are an essential part of our ecosystem, yet approximately 100 million sharks are killed every year. Yes, 100 MILLION! That’s an astonishing number to me.

Many are killed just for their fins, because in some countries people believe they have special healing powers. People also kill them out of fear. As Genie said, “Very few people are ever attacked by sharks. It’s safer to dive with sharks than to drive in a car . . . Sharks should be more afraid of us than we are of them.”

 

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Q: What do you hope young readers will take away from Swimming with Sharks?

A: In addition to learning the truth about sharks, I hope kids will follow Genie’s example. She didn’t judge sharks based on what others said about them or the way they looked. She had no factual evidence to believe that sharks were vicious, unpredictable eating machines. She set an invaluable example to us all not to judge others based on rumors or appearance.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: Always! My next book with Albert Whitman comes out in the spring—Anybody’s Game: The True Story of the First Girl to Play Little League Baseball. I’m busy creating and adding content to my website for kids and teachers to learn more about Genie and sharks. I’m also working on a new picture book biography as well as a lyrical narrative nonfiction picture book about an animal. And I’m channeling the women I write about by challenging myself and writing some humorous fiction!

 

 

Thanks so much, Heather! Dive into Swimming with Sharks on our website, where you can also find a downloadable teacher’s guide. Plus, discover more about the beautiful illustrations created by Jordi Solano by returning to the blog on December 12 for insight into his creative process.

 

 

Q&A with Heather Lang

Q&A With Jessica Steinberg

In Not This Turkey! a family of recent Jewish immigrants to New York City get a taste of the American holiday, Thanksgiving—but when Papa is given a live turkey at work and Mel can’t bear the idea of eating the bird, holiday chaos ensues.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with author Jessica Steinberg to chat about Not This Turkey!, finding inspiration, and holiday traditions.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: Turkeys are such a central part of Thanksgiving, but in these times, not everyone actually eats them. So I wanted potential readers – that is, parents – to know that while this is a Thanksgiving tale, the turkey is saved in the end.

Q: What was the process of working with your editor like?

 A: She was wonderful, knowing intuitively where and how to tighten the prose. When you only have about 500 to 600 words in a kid’s book, every word counts, and [Editorial Manager] Wendy [McClure] spent plenty of time cutting and honing Not This Turkey! with me.

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Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: The easiest part is editing; the hardest part is coming up with the right twists and turns that make the story work.

Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book? 

A: I’m a journalist in real life and this is my first children’s book, which was about a decade in gestation. When I am actually writing, I spend a lot of time staring into space, or out the window, and then writing furiously during those wonderful spurts of energy.

Q: Why write children’s books?

A: This particular story presented itself to me, as it’s based on an incident that took place in my friend’s family. When I first heard it, I could just see it as a picture book, even though my own children weren’t born yet and I hadn’t spent so much time reading children’s books. Now that I have my own kids and have spent hundreds of hours reading out loud, I know what I like in children’s books and want to keep on writing them.

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Q: Are you working on any other projects?

 A: I’m working on two other children’s books at the moment, loosely based on my own twin sons’ experiences.

Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: As a young kid, I loved Blueberries for Sal, Corduroy, and Harold and the Purple Crayon, and I moved on to series such as All of a Kind Family and Little House on the Prairie when I was a little older. Now I’m a big fan of memoir, contemporary and historical fiction, and the occasional biography.

Q: How do you celebrate Thanksgiving?

A: With my friends and family, and my family usually hosts. I live outside the US, so Thanksgiving is a bit more of a challenge in terms of sourcing cranberries and a turkey, but we make sure to celebrate it each year.

Q: What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition?

A: I love the process of preparing the turkey, which becomes something of an all-day affair with my particular recipe. But I take my time, and try not to rush, and there’s no better feeling than sitting down with everyone to those traditional Thanksgiving dishes, each one prepared with love and care.

 

Thanks, Jessica! Find out more about life in New York, celebrating holidays in a new place, and that wild turkey on our website.

Q&A With Jessica Steinberg

Q&A with Jodi McKay

In Where Are the Words by Jodi McKay and illustrated by Denise Holmes a cast of punctuation must come together to create a story.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Jodi to chat about Where Are the Words? , quirky routines, and favorite books.

 Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: The title is usually not the first thing that comes to mind when I am writing, however, in the case of Where Are the Words? it was the only phrase running through my head as I sat staring at the computer with a bad case of writer’s block. After a while of repeating that question, it hit me that I should write a story about trying to find words for a story. The rest came together fairly quickly.

Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: There are not many books with punctuation marks as the main characters and none that have a period trying to write a story so I think that qualifies as pretty different from what’s out there. I also like that these characters talk as their punctuation roles dictate. It’s a fun twist that creates a great learning opportunity for kids that is hopefully exciting.

 

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Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: Ideas hit me at the weirdest times, so I make sure I have a way to write them down before they are replaced with something even more odd. When it comes time to sit and write, my process has actually changed. I used to be a pantser, but now I find myself writing out on paper what I want the story to look like. I will start with the character and write down his or her personality traits so I can get to know him/her a little better. Then I write out what the character wants how that directs the plot. I try to keep a theme in mind as the plot unfolds so that the end is satisfying. After I write all of that, I get to work on the computer, finding the right words to create the full story. Unfortunately, part of my routine is editing along the way. I know, bad habit.

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: The easiest part for me so far has been finding ideas for new books. I read a lot, watch a ton of cartoons, and listen to my son who is known to say some funny stuff. When I get that spark for a story, the main character is not far behind so I’ve been lucky to have that come easily as well.

What I find to be hard when creating a book is making sure that all of the intricacies of a picture book work together. By that I mean, the voice of the narrator and character, the plot structure, language, the theme, and so on. If there is too much of one or not enough of another, it can throw the whole book off. This takes time, patience, and a good critique group. It’s hard, but when you get it right it feels great!

Q: Do you have any writing quirks?

A: To answer this, I will offer a glimpse into my “writing ready” mind by showing you how I set up my workspace.

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I think this is fairly typical. A desk with a notebook for writing out ideas, coffee, a picture of my son’s smiling face, a pleasant scent, and a toy replica of Godzilla complete with classic scream. Oh, sorry, you asked for quirky. Nope, no quirks here.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: Absolutely! I have a few that are in the revision rotation and a dozen more that are waiting to hop on that wheel. There are a couple in particular that I am quite fond of so fingers crossed that they become more than a file on my computer.

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Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: When I was really young, I remember reading The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny over and over again. I loved that Peter was a little on the naughty side and I hate to admit it, but I found his disobedience relatable. Then I moved on to books like Where The Red Fern Grows, Island of The Blue Dolphins, and Skeleton Crew by Stephen King. I was a precocious child.

Now, I’ll read just about anything. I currently love The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard, and Three Sisters, Three Queens by Philippa Gregory. Of course picture books are right up there as well and I find time to read them every day whether it’s with my son or as a form of research. I’m open to recommendations!

 

Thanks so much, Jodi! To find out how Period, Exclamation Point, Question Mark, and the rest of the gang put together a story check out Where Are the Words on our website.

 

 

Q&A with Jodi McKay

Q&A With Sue Fliess

In From Here to There by Sue Fliess and illustrated by Christiane Engel, Here and There are so similar they’re practically twins. But they can never play together because Here is always here and There is always there, so they become pen pals and write to each other all the time. One day, There gets an idea that could change the distance between them forever.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Sue to chat about From Here to There, the editorial process, and finding that creative spark.

Q: What was your inspiration for your title?

A: As with so many parts of my children’s book career, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), as well as the influence of other authors and illustrators, played a big part in this book. I was at the SCBWI NY conference in 2015, watching Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s presentation on all of her amazing books. As she was showing us her books, I thought to myself, I wish I could write something as clever! Her books are so surprising and clever! At one point she was using a pointer to explain a piece of art from one of her books and said, “You’ll notice what I did from here…to there” as she moved the pointer. And just like that, I started typing a draft of the story on my phone. I don’t know how much more of Laura’s talk I heard (sorry, Laura!), but I thank her for the initial spark! People ask me all the time where I get my ideas from, and it’s so hard to answer. I always tell people that I am always listening, always open to what could be the next story. And in this case, that holds true.

Q: What’s the easiest and hardest part of creating a book?

A: If there is an ‘easiest’ part, will someone please tell me what that is? I would say there are really hard parts and not-as-painful parts. The hardest part for me is trusting that I won’t run out of ideas—that the next idea will present itself. Another hard part is having what you think is an amazing idea, then not being able to execute that idea with the right words. Or knowing there is a story in there somewhere, finally sifting through it all and finding it, only to be unable to write a satisfying ending. It takes a lot of hard work to make it look easy. But I absolutely love every part of the process and wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.

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Q: What makes your book stand out?

A: To tell you the truth, when I wrote it, even though I absolutely loved the idea and thought it was maybe the most clever thing I’d written, I was skeptical it would find a home. (My initial thought was that it would make a great Pixar animated short kind of like ‘Day and Night’). Among my own portfolio of books, it’s like nothing I’ve ever written. It’s a multi-layered concept book. First, it’s illustrating actual words as characters. And then those characters represent physical—yet abstract—locations. And on top of that, there is wordplay. It was kind of a head-trip to write. I knew it would take just the right editor to want to make it a book, and just the right illustrator (Christiane Engel) to pull off these illustrations. She did such a great job with a difficult task. I’m so glad it found the right home!

Q: What are your hopes for this book?

A: I have many hopes for this book. On a tactical level, I hope it helps teachers and educators explain to their students about the spelling of the words here and there, and the concept of here and there as locations. In addition, I hope it brings back letter writing as a form of communication. Maybe bringing back the idea of having a pen pal. So much is done on email and text these days. I got a good ‘old-fashioned’ letter the other day and I squealed inside. It shows the recipient that the person took undistracted time out of their busy day to think about me, write a letter, put it in an envelope, and mail it. It’s heartwarming to know someone has made an effort on your behalf. I hope kids get the wordplay and enjoy finding those instances in the text. Finally, on a story level, I hope it helps bridge the distance between people and families that cannot always be together—whether they are separated by military assignments, divorce, travel, schooling, financial reasons, or something else. Maybe in some small way it can help them know that even when they are physically apart, they are together in their hearts.

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Q: What was the process of working with your editor like?

A: This book was cathartic for me. The original story ended much like the story that is printed. But that’s not the ending I submitted. My critique group thought my first ending may be too sad, so I changed it to have a happier ending. But after working on it with my editor, we simplified the text even more, which streamlined the whole story and gave it more focus on letter writing. Then she suggested an ending similar to how I’d originally ended it, to give it more appeal to people who can’t be together all the time. I was so happy to go back to my original ending! It was in the process of going back and revisiting that other ending, that I was able to revise and come up with that sweet last line of the book—which, in my humble opinion, really brings the story home. If it weren’t for my editor asking me questions and pushing me, the story would not have had the same impact.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: I’m always working on multiple projects. Some get stalled to promote new releases or revise manuscripts under contract, but I would say that typically I have at least two ideas I’m noodling on at a time. It’s helpful to me to work this way because if I’m not feeling the love for one story one day, I’ll work on the other. Currently I have three picture books I’m working on and a middle grade novel.

 

Thanks, Sue. Ready to get reading and writing? To find out more about From Here to There, plus download a free postcard template, check out our website.

 

 

Q&A With Sue Fliess

Q&A with Cindy Rankin

In Under the Ashes, Elizabeth “Littlebeth” Morgan’s family wants her to become a proper lady, so they send her to stay with her Aunt Sally in San Francisco. But before Littlebeth can adjust to cultured city life, the earthquake hits. Will Littlebeth be able to survive the disaster and be reunited with her family?

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We were lucky enough to sit down with author Cindy Rankin to talk about Under the Ashes, finding inspiration close to home, and her nineteenth-century idols.

Q: Your novel is centered around a historic earthquake. Why did you choose to write about that?

A: This began as a short story about a spunky girl. When I decided to build a novel around Littlebeth’s character, I needed a big challenge for her to face. I knew the deadliest earthquake in U.S. history happened in San Francisco in 1906. In researching what was called the Great Quake, I became fascinated by the era, and wondered how Littlebeth would manage in an unfamiliar city that collapsed around her.

In 2003, my hometown had a destructive temblor. I learned first-hand how frightening an earthquake can be. It left a lasting impression. Under the Ashes is a historic novel, but young people still deal with the same kinds of  issues as Littlebeth—living up to parental expectations, finding one’s own place in the world—and unfortunately, there will always be disasters that result in loss and refugees. I hope readers experience what it was like to live in another time, yet understand how Littlebeth feels when her parents send her away, and imagine how they might react if they were caught in an epic calamity.

Q: Did you base the character of Littlebeth on anyone?

A: As a child, my daughter’s confidence amazed me, yet it was also irksome. She posted her “rules of life” on her bedroom door: “Everyone has to stay ten feet away from me!” That didn’t work. Our house was too small and I’m a hugger. Smart, strong-willed kids are a challenge to raise, but usually grow into fine adults. I dedicated this book to her.

Q: What inspired the title of your book?

A: It had to reflect the story. After the Great Quake, a huge fire broke out and burned for three days. Ash rained down and covered everyone alike from the elite to the poor as they all tried to survive the catastrophe. Littlebeth came to understand the similarity and difference between people isn’t status, religion, skin color, or nationality. It’s inside the heart that matters most. She discovered even under the ashes hope exists for a new beginning.

Q: If you lived in 1906, would you have been wild like Littlebeth or the proper young lady her parents wanted her to be?

A: Well, you’d never catch me chasing skunks or a rattlesnake! But I wouldn’t be a proper young lady either, because my imagination is too big to stay quiet or still for long. Today girls have the freedom to play sports, excel in school, and be who they want to be. It wasn’t always like that. In the past, standing out like Littlebeth wouldn’t be acceptable.

Q: Littlebeth gets to meet famous opera singer Enrico Caruso in San Francisco. If you lived in the early 1900s, who would you like to meet?

A: Like Littlebeth’s papa, I’m a fan of our 26th president,Teddy Roosevelt. Also, I admire Andrew Carnegie. He was born poor in Scotland, came to the U.S. and made a fortune, then donated great sums to enrich communities. I’d like to thank him for all the libraries he built. My hometown has a Carnegie Library that opened in 1909. My children and I spent a lot of time there. Now it’s the home of our Historical Society.

Q: What books did you like to read when you were young?

A: The Boxcar Children. Kids making it on their own struck my fancy. Also Carolyn Keene’s Nancy Drew series—solving mysteries and driving a roadster—nothing better! But my all-time favorites (I reread them every few years) are: Anne Of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith, I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith, and To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.

Q: Are you working on other projects?

A: I’m writing a contemporary middle grade novel about a boy whose father is missing in war, and the unusual way he copes with his dad’s absence. I come from a military family. This story is in my bones.

 

Thanks, Cindy. Check out Under the Ashes on our website, where you’ll also find links for purchasing the title.

Q&A with Cindy Rankin

Q&A with Linda Joy Singleton

In The Secret of the Shadow Bandit, the fourth title in the Curious Cat Spy Club by Linda Joy Singleton, Kelsey and her friends discover a new mystery at a local castle.

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We were lucky to sit down with author Linda Joy Singleton to chat about The Secret of the Shadow Bandit, her writing routine, and cute animals.

Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?  

 A: I get up each morning and write on my laptop until it’s time to exercise.  But I have to confess I am easily distracted…by email, games, Facebook, Twitter, and my family. So some days I don’t get much written. But when I need to write faster, I work morning and night. It usually takes about 6 months to write a book.

Q: Do you have any writing quirks? 

 A: I write in the mornings on my laptop in my bed. Here’s one secret for anyone who enjoys vintage series books like Nancy Drew: I sneak in series books references in all of my CCSC books. I did it in my previous series, The Seer, too. If you spot any series references, message me on Facebook and I’ll tell you if you’re right.  Hint: the name of the middle-school is based on Nancy Drew’s first best friend (all super series fans know that Bess and George weren’t in the early books). And sometimes I base a character on a real person.

Q: Why do you write for kids?

 A: Kid books are hopeful, exciting, and fun. When I was a kid, I had lots of fun with my best friend and enjoy writing adventures for my characters. Kelsey, Leo, and Becca have much more exciting mysteries to solve than I did, although there really were three abandoned kittens that ended up at my best friend’s house. We loved animals and mysteries so much we created a club we called the CCSC.

Q: Are you working on any other projects?

A: YES!  I’m writing the 5th CCSC mystery which is all about dogs. There’s a tiny pug puppy, a search and rescue German Shepard, and even a super dog with her own comic book. The main mystery, though, involves a missing person—someone very close to Kelsey. The title will probably be Dog-Gone Danger, and it should be out Spring 2017. (But first I have to finish writing it and I have about 50 pages to go.)

Q: Do you have a favorite Curious Cat Spy Club adventure?

 A: Secret of The Shadow Bandit—and not just because it’s my newest. This book is my tribute to the mystery series I read as a kid (and still collect!). My favorites were about sleuths names Nancy, Judy, and Trixie. The mysteries had fun plots with hidden jewels, missing heirs, and mysterious castles with eerie dark dungeons. So I put all these plots tropes and more in the 4th CCSC mystery.

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Q: What was your inspiration for your title, The Secret of the Shadow Bandit?

A: There’s a mysterious animal in CCSC#4 which lurks in shadowy places and steals things like a bandit. Can readers guess what it is?

Q:  What is your favorite animal?

A: Cats, with dogs as a close second fav. I have three cats and a cute little poo-pom named Lucy Goosey.

Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? 

A: Mysteries! My parents would take me to secondhand store for older series like Judy Bolton, Nancy Drew, Trixie Belden, and many more. When I was in 4th grade my teacher had a chart on the wall with how many books everyone read for that month—and I was tied for first place, reading a book a day. My favorite authors for current kids’ books are: Neal Shusterman, Ingrid Law, Eva Ibbotson, J.K. Rowling, April Henry, Alex Flinn, Scott Westerfeld, Suzanne Collins, and many more (check my Goodreads for books I’ve reviewed). I also read adult mysteries; my favorites are by Kate Morton, Marcia Muller, and Sue Grafton.

 

Thanks, Linda! Explore the latest Curious Cat Spy Club mystery, The Secret of the Shadow Bandit on our website.

Q&A with Linda Joy Singleton

Q&A WITH JULIA PATTON

Cornelius was not expecting a cat to be left on his doorstep in Drat That Fat Cat! by author-illustrator Julia Patton.

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We were lucky enough to sit down with Julia Patton to chat about Drat That Fat Cat!, her career trajectory, and the cat—and human—who inspired the story.

Q: How did you become a children’s book author and illustrator?

A: When I was very little my earliest memories were playing ‘Post Office’ underneath my Grandma’s kitchen table. I’d spend hours cutting and sticking making envelopes and stamps to post to my long suffering sister. I always knew my heart lay in being a creative so I followed this pathway through my undergraduate in Textile Design which was very fine art-based. I then spent many years creating greeting cards & wrap for international stores. My interest in children’s picture books was reignited when I began sourcing books for my own small boys. I fell in love with picture books and I knew it was time to go back to big school myself. I swiftly enrolled on the MA Illustration program at Edinburgh University and had my first picture book Unstoppable Max was published a year later.

 

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Q: In Drat That Fat Cat! which came first: the text or the art?

A: Both are intrinsically linked, interwoven at every stage. When writing books I initially create the protagonist in my sketch book, secondly the other characters, and then I create a title, which just has to be a showstopper! Then the story arc grows from there. The funnier the better. I find humour and picture books perfect partners. I wrote Drat That Fat Cat! over five years ago and showed it to my editor and art director at The International Children’s Book Fair in Bologna last year. The silly end papers had us all howling with laughter. We worked together collaboratively to strengthen the story and its publication date is this October.

Q: Do you have a cat? What would you do if one was left on your doorstep?

A: I’ve had one very fat, stray cat arrive at my doorstep a few years ago, covered in fleas, wriggling with worms and creating the most horrid smells. We loved her. The idea of the highly contrasting Cornelius Van Ploof’s character in Drat That Fat Cat! comes from my beloved father. He loves order, with everything being very neat and tidy. I knew putting him and a flea-bitten, smelly cat together would drive him utterly bonkers! He’s yet to see the book. I may be in trouble!

Q: What is your favorite medium to work with?

A: With an undergraduate in textiles I’m instinctively drawn to creating beautiful aesthetics and tactile surfaces and with my new found love of illustration the two are now inseparable. I love collage and incorporate it into picture books whenever I can. I believe the multi-media approach to my illustrations make them easily identifiable from other’s work.

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Q: What was the process of working with your editor and art director like?

A: Albert Whitman and I are on our third book together and Jordan Kost has been my art director on all of the projects. She is an incredibly talented creative to work with, professional, hard-working and we’ve developed a very close and hilarious friendship which moulds our books. She is the magical glue. I’d be lost without her encouragement, support and humour.

Q: Do you have a regular routine while creating a book?

A: The routine is work, work, work. Seven days a week, lots of late nights, until it’s finally done. The best books happen when you listen carefully taking everyone’s advice from art directors, editors and publishers. Then take a breath and begin the next project.

This quote is exactly how I feel: Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life. —Confucius

Q: Are you working on any other projects? 

A: I write continuously and have approximately 6-10 books in various states of completion that I visit and rework at different times. I have been very fortunate to have been commissioned three of my new titles recently that I’m going to be working on over the next year. It’s going to be a very busy but exciting time. I have also recently written a story called Charlie & Pip inspired by a non-verbal child we know as family friend. It’s a story about a child not engaging in the outside world or communicating with anyone, until she meets Pip. He becomes her voice, her emotional buffer, showing her how to interact with others. This is a book for anyone struggling to find their voice, whether it’s a language barrier, anxiety or self-confidence problems. I think it’s a special book with a story that needs to be told. I’m very proud of it.

I believe my responsibility and role as an author and illustrator is to illuminate words, suggest the magical and interpret the unspoken.

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Q: What books did you like to read as a kid? What type of books do you like to read now?

A: I was obsessed with any book by Richard Scarry because of all the funny details I could find, this was later replaced by Heath Robinson with his hypnotic contraptions and fabulous inventions. I adored, and still do, Dr. Seuss’s wonderful books. Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are? is a favourite of mine. Now I read every picture book I can get my hands on. I’m initially attracted to the artwork but love deconstructing the narrative. Some of my favourite illustrators include Quentin Blake, Barroux, Dan Santat, and Oliver Jeffers.

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Q: Any last words?

A: I love my job.

Thanks, Julia! Fall in love with Cornelius and his fat cat, and check out the book on our website. Find out more about Julia on her website, and don’t forget to follow her on Twitter.

Q&A WITH JULIA PATTON