I've wanted to feature the creators of SLEEP LIKE A TIGER written by Mary Logue and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski since the first moment I saw this luscious picture book. I'm thrilled to have both the author and illustrator here today! Let's get straight to it...

Q. SLEEP LIKE A TIGER arrived and I am even more blown away than I thought I'd be! Mary, your words are luscious, and Pamela, I can't begin to express how much I love your work! I have questions for you both...

Mary: It seems you've written every genre of children's books! Has it always been a dream to do a picture book, and not just that, but a bed-time book?
A. While I can't say that it's been a dream forever--I have had this idea for a don't-want-to-go-to-sleep book for many years. I was an editor at the Creative Company and that's when I first thought of it. Then I taught at Hamline University's low-residency MFA program, Writing for Children and Young Adults, and I learned so much from my fellow faculty members. I decided to give a try.

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Mary: Did you ever picture anything like what Pamela came up with for the artwork? How did you react when you first saw it?
A. I knew Pamela's work from her previous books--but I was still completely blown away when I saw my little girl come to life and the amazing world that surrounded her, really the world of her mind. When I opened the package that brought the first galley proofs my way, it was like Christmas and my birthday all in one. A wonderful present!

Pamela: When you first read the manuscript, did the images come right to you? Can you give us a sneak peek into your method? How does that creative mind of yours work? And are there symbols that you tend to use often? (I'd love a photo of your work space!)
A. ..answering questions with words about process is always hard for me... I just draw and paint - my process is completely intuitive- but I knew-yes-absolutely- I wanted to paint this book and I could see images in as much as I can see anything in the early moments...nothing ever ends how it begins- this I find to be most true about art- any art....when I create, I go into another space mentally and come out the other side somehow changed...I enter a time warp of sorts...things happen that I can not describe with words and often I do not even feel like it was me at all that created it....

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I can not paint or illustrate a book, if the words are not felt instantly....the images come to me much like a movie...they come in and change from frame to frame - moment to moment- images come to me in the middle of the the early morning- while I am at the grocery store...working- all times of day and night...and bit by bit . Images are not originally seen like a "picture " in my mind.... more like a feeling... I memorize the words much like an actor would memorize their part in the play, it becomes part of me - it becomes like breath-heartbeats- there all the time-subconsciously- and then I can tell its story with pictures without "thinking " about it too much. I do all my sketches in my journal...they are rough and scribbled. I go directly from scribble to a finished painting...not to lose the freedom of expression....and yes, my books are riddled with symbols....but I like to keep them mysterious a secret code to be cracked by the viewers....I don't like to describe in words - i want the viewers to feel something more than being told what is... ...because a meaning to me might not mean anything to another ...but if a viewer can create one's own meanings-that is great!!!....or if the symbols create dialog between child and adult then thats all that matters....

Mary: I love how you circle back around with your text. All the creatures show up again as the little girl goes to sleep. Was that tying up of ideas so different from writing longer works?
A. No, not really. A circular structure is very satisfying and is often used in novels and poems too.

Pamela: Your influences seem to be so eclectic. What is your inspiration?
A. LOVE of LIFE. NATURE. SPIRIT...I am inspired by the mystery of creating or the need to create itself ....

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Pamela: You won a Caldecott Honor for SLEEP LIKE A TIGER as well as your first book RED SINGS FROM TREETOPS: A YEAR IN COLORS. You really took the industry by storm! How has that experience been for you?
A. I just want to stay grounded and try not think about it very much...I am so grateful...I really am....but I try really hard to just focus on the next thing in front of me and my love of art....

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Both of you: My readers love to hear about paths to publication. How did you break into the publishing business? And are there any funny stories surrounding this particular story?
Mary: I feel like I often back into some of my work. What I mean by that is, I started working with children's books when I was asked to translate a number of French children's books into English. It was so much fun. Then I began editing them and now I have written one myself. My decision to write for children happened so organically, almost out of my control.
Pamela: I always knew i would do this work from as early as I can remember....luck and hard work and hard work and luck....and more hard work and practice, practice, practice...and a little more luck...

Both of you: What's in the pipeline? Will we see more picture books from you?
Mary: I sure hope so. I have a number that are simmering away. Ideas come very easily to me--it's getting them right that's the hard part. I do feel like I've learned a great secret--writing picture books is terrifically fun. In so many ways, I find I'm writing for the child in me, the child that needs comfort and encouragement, and, yes, sometimes help in getting to sleep.
Pamela: I am writing and illustrating my own story ...I will do this work for an entire lifetime-fingers crossing here......and if there are in fact other lifetimes for me then I can only hope paint in those too!

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has kindly agreed to give a free copy of SLEEP LIKE A TIGER to one of my lucky commenters. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter below. (The winner will be announced in a week.)
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