It would seem my friends are creating a lot of very pink books of late! Well, Sarah Dillard's makes a wonderful addition!! Sarah is my roomie every year when I go to the Kindling Words Writer's Retreat in Vermont - and an incredibly talented author/illustrator. I'm thrilled to announce the release of her latest picture book, PERFECTLY ARUGULA!!
     Argula (a hedgehog) is a ... perfectionist. When she decides to throw a party, she imagines how perfect it will be. But when her friends bring a dose of reality to her perfect party - Arugula has to learn to adapt.

Q:     Okay, fess up Sarah - do you have an Arugula in your life who inspired the story?

A.     A lot of people I know share some traits with Arugula, but I can't say that she is based on any one person. When I first showed the book to my mother she seemed to be enjoying it, but when she had finished she looked at me apprehensively and said "Is this about me?"

Q:     Everything in Arugula's life is so completely perfect - is she like you at all?

A.     While I was writing the book, the one thing I was sure of was that Arugula was nothing like me. A while after I finished the book though, we had some friends over for dinner. I spent a lot of time preparing and had a certain idea of how the evening should go. Once our friends arrived I spent most of the evening doing everything I could to make sure things happened according to my plan. At some point I realized that I am more like Arugula than I thought. Luckily though my husband has a lot of Fidget in him and everyone had a good time in the end. I hope.

Q:     I love the colors and patterns you used in Perfectly Arugula - what was your inspiration?

A.     I wanted Arugula's world to reflect her personality. It needed to be bright and busy and maybe just a little bit garish and over bearing. If Arugula were a person, she would probably wear a lot of Lily Putlitzer clothes.

Q:     Perfectly Arugula is in a beginner's graphic novel format. Why did you create it that way and what's been the reaction?

A.     I've been an illustrator much longer than I've been a writer. When I first started writing I would treat the writing separately from the illustration and it seemed very awkward to me. I realized that my goal was not to write a story and not to illustrate a story. I wanted to CREATE a story using words and pictures and they needed to work together to achieve that goal. The graphic novel thing kind of grew out of that. Having the characters speak directly seemed a more organic way to deal with dialog and thoughts which led to using speech balloons and thought bubbles. And showing a sequence of events in panels felt more exciting than writing them and choosing one or two key things to illustrate on a page. In the end this just seemed to be the most natural way to tell the story.

Note: Read this great review and book give-away from a Mom who especially enjoyed the graphic format.

Q:     I love the relationship between Arugula and Fidget (what a great name!). In fact, all the names are so ... perfect! How did you come up with them?

A.     I've always thought that Arugula sounded like a girl's name. I suggested it to a friend of mine who was thinking of names for her baby, but for some reason she didn't take me up on it. I thought it was too good a name to go to waste though so I created Arugula. It is such a great sounding word; both fancy and awkward which after all, is kind of how my Arugula is. I have to give my mechanic credit for coming up with the name Fidget but that is a long and kind of inappropriate story.

Q:     How have you been celebrating the release of Perfectly Arugula - any fun upcoming events?

A.     I have had several local book signings and am looking forward to a teaparty at The Flying Pig Bookstore in May.
     I am also compulsively checking my Amazon sales rank which is not really a great idea.

Q:     Finally, what can your fans look for next?

A.     I have great plans for future Arugula stories as well as stories featuring her friends.

I can't wait to see them! Thanks so much Sarah!

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