Lisa Lowe Stauffer and Angelika Scudamore on TWO BY TWO

I love to help friends celebrate the release of their first books after seeing them work so hard to achieve publication! And that's exactly what I get to do today! Lisa Lowe Stauffer and I attended many a conference together over the years. Today, she and the illustrator of her new book, Angelika Scudamore talk to each other. Enjoy!
Angelika: Lisa, how did TWO BY TWO come about?
Lisa: I have two ways to answer that, both of which played into this story. First, when I was little, I desperately wanted a pet monkey. Finally, all these years later, that childhood wish became two mischievous monkeys on the page.
      Secondly, here’s the more adult answer:
      It’s been a long journey to publication of my first book. I’d been writing middle-grade novels for many years, without sales success, when I attended a poetry retreat led by the fabulous children’s poet Rebecca Kai Dotlich.
      I was certain I had no talent for poetry, after all, my background was in no-nonsense journalism and marketing communications. But I went because I’d had to return to full-time work and to keep my children’s writing going, I’d promised myself to attend every local SCBWI event.
      To my surprise, I found that playing with words at the detailed level of poetry gave me great joy. TWO BY TWO started at that workshop.
      Later, I was trying to get the ending right, and playing jazz on the radio. Monkeys got involved, jazz beats took over, and my originally staid lines became something a lot more fun.
      While I liked my crazy beats, I didn’t think anyone else would. But, having nothing else ready to send, off it went to the annual Southern Breeze (SCBWI) contest.
      When it won second place, I was floored. Maybe I could do this poetry thing after all!
      Six years later it sold to Zonderkidz.

Lisa: Angelika, when you received the text for TWO BY TWO, what was your creative process/medium for illustrating it?
Angelika:
The first thing I do is to read the story to get an idea and a feel for what it’s all about. Then get stuck in with the brief! I follow up with a lot of research with the type of animals and get started with preliminary sketches to plan out the composition of each spread. Once I’m roughly happy with those I start to add more detail and structure with the roughs. After this is approved the magic starts with the colour stage. I then start colour blocking, which I then start adding detail and texture. I have a few ‘go to’ brushes which I only use to make my work consistent.

Lisa: Angelika, which illustration from the book is your favorite?
Angelika:
My favourite spread was definitely the last one as all the characters were featured here! I really had fun creating this spread and love working with dramatic lighting too. I feel it adds to the drama of the story and brings the characters to life.
Angelika: Lisa, which is your favorite?
Lisa:
I love them all, but the double-page spread with the animals playing instruments is my favorite. It reminds me of how my family would play Christmas carols each year, with instruments ranging from piano to oboe to spoons!
Lisa: Angelika, what are you working on next?
Angelika:
I’m currently working on a few projects, an animal alphabet book, 2 story books, and a series of educational books. I’ve written and illustrated 2 picture books and my dream would be to get these published, fingers crossed :)
Angelika: Lisa, what are you working on next?
Lisa:
I’m in what I hope is the final major edit of a young adult novel, HOLLYWOOD MIRA. Here’s the elevator pitch: Accidental immigrant Mira’s plan to smuggle her sister into the U.S. goes awry on the same day that an “A to Z storm” of movie proportions hits L.A. Mira, 3 small children, 2 cute boys and 1 famous dog must navigate post-disaster Hollywood to find her sister and get themselves to safety.
      And I’m working with a mentor on the second draft of a middle-grade novel. This is currently titled KERILU. Here’s its elevator pitch: A small-town, 6th grade girl, who has confidence she can remake herself via checklists, tries out for the school musical as a way to fit in with the popular kids. But when she meets a cheerful, overly-helpful theater ghost, it becomes impossible to hide who she really is.
      KERILU is especially exciting, because I’ve been able to utilize a family cache of letters from the early 1900s in developing the ghost’s personality. The 170+ letters were written by a young man who went on to write a very famous children’s book . . .and that’s all I’m sayin’ for now.

Lisa: Angelika, where can readers see more of your work?
Angelika:
You can find a lot of my books on Amazon and in a few bookshops. As well as book illustration, I also work on greeting cards and custom illustrations for families and couples. You can find my work on my online folio, website, and my instagram page.
Angelika: Lisa, where can readers see more of your work?
Lisa:
I’ll be blogging about books, monkeys, travel, and more at my website. Plus I’m on social media: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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