Nancy Meyers is a new friend whose linework is fun and light and absolutely awesome. Check out her incredible artwork at nancymeyersdesign.com.
Dave Biedrzycki is a longtime friend, a wonderful author and illustrator, and a really swell guy. Check out his amazing work at his website, davidbiedrzycki.com.
What am I working on now?
Right now I’m working on several different projects. It’s not my personal ideal way to work, but I’m happy to have the work to do. My biggest, most exciting project right now is a book that I wrote and illustrated called, A Cape!.
It’s the first book that I’ve self-published for myself. After 17 years of working with traditional publishers, I wanted to try doing one for myself. I ran a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to cover printing costs and I just finished up the layouts and will be getting it off to the printer in the next couple of days.
A Cape! gave me a chance to work completely at my own pace and do everything creatively in exactly the way I wanted to do it. It was an exciting process and I’m thrilled with how the book came out.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve never considered this question too deeply before. There are thousands of talented children’s authors and illustrators out there, most of whom do a great job creating work for kids.
I try hard to reach kids where they are. I don’t set out to write books that teachers and parents and librarians will swoon over (though I hope they do, of course). I write things that I think kids will really enjoy. I don’t try to instill values or teach lessons or morals. I want to share a moment of laughter with kids. I want their stomaches to hurt from laughing when they’re finished with one of my books - what better feeling is there than that?
Why do I write what I do?
I write funny books because I love funny books. It’s as simple as that. I love sharing my books at schools and hearing hundreds of kids roaring with laughter. As an author–someone who spends most of his time working alone–that’s a thrill that I never tire of.
How does your writing process work?
I suppose it’s very much the same as most other writers: weeping, wailing, black magic, voodoo, and a captive army of evil trolls slaving away in underground dungeons to produce my work for me while I sit around in a hot tub, swilling expensive champagne.
Isn’t that how everyone does this?
On the few occasions when my evil army of trolls is unable to produce anything worthwhile and I am forced to take pencil in hand, I generally start out with some very simple idea or situation. From that point, I decide how to tell the story - will it be first person? rhyming?
There are lots of ways for the same idea to be fleshed out into a story.
I will generally get to work on drafts then, spending a lot of time tweaking, revising, and fixing my story, often discarding lots of previous work when I come up with a better idea.
Once the story is basically fleshed out, I start on the illustrations, planning how to best show what will be happening on each page. I do lots and lots of thumbnail sketches, working hard to decide what I want the book to look like.
The story and the pictures will then typically develop together, one influencing the other until, eventually, I have a rough story complete with rough illustrations to accompany it.
My final artwork is almost always pencil and watercolor. I love the look and feel of working with pencil and brushes. Creating the final artwork is certainly one of the most satisfying aspects of the job.
Next week, the featured artist will be the talented and delightful Gina Perry.
Gina Perry lives under the tall pines in New Hampshire with her husband and two children. She graduated from Syracuse University, working in animation and the scrapbook market before happily (and nervously) making the leap to writing and illustrating for children. Gina has been illustrating for children’s books, magazines, and products since 2006. She starts her illustrations with gouache and pencil and finishes them with top-secret digital magic. You can see more of Gina’s work here: http://www.ginaperry.com