by Liza Gardner Walsh
Illustrated by Hazel Mitchell
Everyone knows fairies love spring flowers and summer sun, but what happens when autumn comes and the days get shorter and colder? Now, Liza Gardner Walsh, acclaimed author of the Fairy House Handbook and Fairy Garden Handbook, explores the matter in a charming children's picture book of rhyming questions. Combined with delightful illustrations by Hazel Mitchell this whimsical book will help children discover just where fairies go when it snows and offer a subtle lesson about the importance of helping one another.
Today I'm thrilled to have both the author - Liza Gardner Walsh - and the illustrator - Hazel Mitchell - as my guests on Writ of Whimsy!
We'll be discussing their delightful, recently released picture book:
Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows?
Before we dive into the interview (and the giveaway!) here is a brief bio/background of each of these talented and accomplished artists:
Liza Gardner Walsh
is the author of four books, Fairy House Handbook, Fairy Garden Handbook, Haunted Fort, and The Maine Coon Cat. She is a high school English teacher and has worked as a children’s librarian, writing tutor, museum educator, and holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College.
Drawing, reading and horses were my big passions as a youngster. After I attended art college in my home country of England, I ran away to sea and joined the Royal Navy. Now I'm doing what I've always dreamed of - illustrating and writing children's books.
Welcome to Writ of Whimsy, ladies! I'm so excited to be able to interview both of you. I hope you don't mind, but I'll be bouncing back and forth between you two with questions. So, here we go!
VL - Since I've already purchased and read the book, Liza, I just want to say how much I love it! When did you start writing picture books?
LGW - Oh my goodness, thank you so much! This is actually my first official published picture book, although I have written several other non-fiction books for kids.
VL - Thanks, Liza. Hazel, I've admired your illustrations for some time; however, your work on this book is extraordinary. How long have you been illustrating books for children?
HM - Thanks so much, Victoria! I illustrated my first book (How To Talk To An Autistic Kid) in 2010 and have been lucky to be working on one book or another ever since! Before I illustrated for children I did commercial art work and graphic design.
VL - Gosh, I didn't know that, Hazel. I'll have to take a look at that book, too. Liza, what inspired you to write Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows?
LGW - I have led a number of fairy programs over the last few years and one of my favorite parts is listening to the questions children ask about the unknown possibilities in the fairy world. I have developed that habit too and one day, while I was walking in the snow, I wondered if the fairies hung around during the winter and those questions formed the framework of the book.
VL - I love to hear where authors find their inspiration. Thanks, Liza. So Hazel, you're the first illustrator I've interviewed! Could you briefly explain the steps you took in creating the illustrations for this book?
HM - Illustrators can be tricksey! The first thing I do when I am asked to illustrate a book is read through the manuscript several times to get a feel for the language/mood/character/setting. I think about what age of child it is aimed for and if the words are suggesting a particular style. Sometimes I make a mood board for the book. I think about where the page turns in the book might be. Usually I will begin with sketching the main characters and decide if they are human or animal! Sometimes I use models. With 'Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows?' it was pretty easy...they were fairies! When the characters are shaped I create 'thumbnails', very small drawings that are really just little scrawls of what's happening on every page, at this stage everything can change. Next I will work the scrawls up into bigger sketches of each page, still very loose and sketchy. If I'm happy with them I'll then send then to the art director/editor and they'll give me their input...at this stage the author will usually see them too and pass any comments to the editor. (Not to me directly.) We might have another revision (or two!)...and then it's on to the final art, which can take anything from a couple of months to a year depending on detail and length of book. There will be a final check over that everything is ok, maybe a few tweaks and VOILA! It's a book!
VL - Thanks, Hazel. I loved getting a behind the scenes description of how you approach your work. Now another question for Liza. I know writing a picture book in rhyme is not easy, at least not to do well. Your text in rhyme in this book is exquisite; what is your secret?
LGW - Thank you again! I adore poetry and like to read poems before I write. I majored in creative writing with an emphasis on poetry in college and to this day, I spend much of my time making silly rhymes about our daily life - often to the horror of my family, I even add a tune!
When I was working on this book, there were a few clunkers and so I just kept going over it until I could get it just right. As with most writing, revision is the secret!
VL - I love the word clunkers, Liza. But I agree, they're not cool in our writing. So Hazel, what advice would you give novice illustrators of children's books?
HM - Know your craft. The basics of drawing and creating art are essential. And then you need to supplement this with a good understanding of children's books and how they work in today's market. If you can study at a good college in children's illustration, that's a great place to start. There are part-time courses and some fantastic books on illustrating for children. I would suggest you join the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators and go to conferences that are held by the SCBWI; the Highlights Foundation in PA also has wonderful courses. Harold Underdown (children's book editor) has a website www.underdown.org that has great information for those just getting started and for those who are working in the field. Most importantly READ a great many books and keep up with what's new from publishers. And DRAW! Always DRAW!
VL - Thanks for those great tips, Hazel. So Liza, what one thing would surprise me about you?
LGW - I am not a terribly surprising person but kids are often quite shocked that I have never seen a fairy.
VL - It sounds like your stories are super believable, Liza!
Hazel, I know you reside in Maine, but hail from Great Britain; what brought you to the States?
HM - Easy question - my husband is American and I moved here in 2000 to be with him. I do love Maine, it reminds me very much of Yorkshire where I come from in the UK.
Well, thanks so much for your time, Liza and Hazel. Your answers were fascinating, as well as informative. I wish we could chat all day!
* * * * * * *
Liza and Hazel are offering a special giveaway today! One copy of Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows? as well as this whimsical Fairy Kit to one lucky person who leaves a comment on this post.
(The winner to be selected by Liza and Hazel.)
Here are the online links where you can visit Liza Gardner Walsh:
Here are the online links where you can visit Hazel Mitchell:
Here are the buy links for Where Do Fairies Go When It Snows?:
Thanks for stopping by Writ of Whimsy!