I love picture books. You, my readers, obviously know this already. But what you didn’t know is that I have a new favorite picture book author/illustrator. Who?
I’ll give you a few hints:
- This author/illustrator is an woman.
- I’ve featured two of her books as Book of the Week, one is April 2013 and the other in June 2013.
- Pink is a prominent color throughout both of her works.
If you haven’t guessed already, my new favorite picture book author/illustrator is none other than Ms. Molly Idle! She’s spectacular. I adore her work: her writing and especially her illustrations!
After reading and featuring both Flora and The Flamingo and Tea Rex as Book of the Week posts I knew I had to reach out to Molly and see if she’s answer a few questions.
Luckily, she agreed!
BookBandit (BB): You had two books publish this year: Flora and the Flamingo, and your most recent Tea Rex. In regards to each of them, where did you draw your inspiration from when creating them?
Molly Idle (MI): While it may sound far-fetched to say that the inspiration for stories about dancing with a flamingo, and inviting a tyrannosaurus to tea, came from my life… it’s true. Not that I have ever had the chance to actually do either of these fabulous things (though I wish I could), but the ideas for both books came up in conversation with my boys. You have conversations when you are a kid, and when you’re with kids, that would never happen between grownups. My boys’ minds are filled with wonder and they ask amazing questions when they let their minds wander. I’m lucky that I get to wander with them…
BB: What comes first (for you): the words or the art? With that, what is your creative process when working on a new project?
MI: Oh my… sometimes I wish, I really, really wish I had a set process. (I’m sure there are times when my editors and art directors wish I did too…) Sometimes, it’s an image that pops into my head that starts a story. Other times- as is the case with Tea Rex- a word or phrase will start me thinking… and I never know when either a word or image is going to set me to work on a new project.
To that end (and in a semblance of process) I keep a sketchbook/notebook with me at all times. I scribble random thoughts or compositions that come to mind… reworking and re-scribbling… and over time the scribbles start to make sense- if only to me. Once I have an idea of where the story is going from start to finish- I’ll start trying to make it work within the format of a picture book’s 32 pages.
BB: Flora (from Flora and the Flamingo) is such a great character? Can readers expect to see more of her somewhere down the line?
MI: Thank you so much. Yes, I am just starting in on the final artwork for another story featuring Flora and… a penguin!
BB: Have you ever thought about writing for other age groups – like middle grade, teen, or adults? Why or why not?
MI: Yes, I have thought about it… and so far that’s about as far as I have gotten. The thing is- to be a good writer you have to do a lot of reading. I have spent the past decade reading A LOT of picture books to myself and to my boys. After reading so many- I started to get a very definite sense of what I liked or didn’t like in those books… dialogue, pacing, palette, perspective, etc… I haven’t read nearly enough chapter books, middle grade or YA to even begin to understand them in the same way. I have a lot more reading to do!
BB: I have to ask, what are your favorite pictures books and/or books for children?
MI: There are so many books that I love that I can’t possibly list them all. But I can tell you that my favorites all share a common thread… they all assume that the kids reading them are capable of understanding much more than they are generally given credit for. Be it absurdity or empathy… just because young readers may not be able to articulate these abstract concepts doesn’t mean that they aren’t feeling and embracing them. They are.
BB: Can you tell anything about any upcoming projects?
MI: Well yes, and no. There are a few projects that I can’t mention yet, but I can tell you that Flora and the Penguin will be out in the Fall/Winter of 2014. Camp Rex will be out in April 2014… and I am just starting work on a third REX book that will be out in the Spring of 2015- though I can’t tell you what it is…yet!
BB: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers? To aspiring illustrators?
MI: My favorite professor once told me: “Every artist has 10,000 bad drawings in them- get started!” I think that quote applies to writers as well. Each drawing- each draft- that doesn’t work gets you closer to the one that will!
I (personally) cannot wait to see what else Molly Idle has is store for us readers!
A very big THANK YOU to Molly Idle for taking the time out of her busy schedule to answer some burning questions! Make sure to check out Molly Idle’s website
for more information on her and her (awesome!) books!