Rosalinde: Hi Susan! As you know, I illustrated a myriad of awesome stories written by fabulous French, English and American authors, but I particularly connected with your writing and humor. I love your characters who are an endless source of inspiration for me! Now it’s my chance to know more about your creation process. What sparked the idea for Poppy’s Best Babies?
Susan: It started with a friend’s story. She was very close to her only grandchild and was happy to help when the second baby came along. Imagine her shock when the older sibling’s new-baby jealousy was transferred to the formerly beloved Grandmother! While of course, I felt bad for my friend, that story intrigued me with her details of revenge that only a five-year-old could dole out. Meanwhile, my own daughter had recently welcomed twins into the family—thus the inspiration was born.
Rosalinde: I am a big fan of Poppy’s strong personality. What was your inspiration for her?
Susan: Being human is a great place to start even if you are writing about a bunny. I have always been fascinated by the idea that your greatest strengths can also be your greatest flaws. One of the first places I look for those flaws is within myself! Poppy’s enthusiastic optimism and big dreams can sometimes blind her to reality. My husband would say that he knows someone else who needs an occasional reality check.
Rosalinde: All your characters have fun, distinct personalities. How did you manage to do that?
Susan: Even though they are woodland creatures, they are very human. Lavender is the calm stable personality that I WISH I could always find within myself. I have a few beloved cynics in my life, like Petunia. Mrs. Rose is modeled after my 5th grade teacher Mrs. Beaton, BEST teacher ever.
Susan: It is disjointed and non-linear at first. I just have to write down everything that occurs to me without self-editing, so I can go back in and pull out what matters. Depending on the manuscript, I am often drawing pictures as I write. After my first draft is coherent, I send it to my writing group. We are small, just 5 total and 4 of us are author/illustrators. I learn as much from critiquing their manuscripts as I do when they are critiquing mine. Having to stop and analyze is a great exercise to go through.
Susan: I do think about stories visually and sketch them out in my head and on paper. Even if I do not create the illustrations it helps in pacing out the book and creating drama.
Rosalinde: I laughed out loud the first time I read the manuscript. Does the humor come naturally in your writing or is it something you have to work at?
Susan: I write things that are funny to me. And I figure that if I find it funny, at least one other person will share my sense of humor. I’m glad that it happens to be you !
Susan: Never being sure if I am moving in the right direction as I develop the story. I spend untold hours muddling through until the concept is clear to me. For me, there is just no easy or straightforward way to do this. The whole process is very messy as I go through scores of revisions and feel my way through. And as a person who likes to tick things off a list and feel that I have made progress every day, it can feel disconcerting not to have progressed as quickly as I’d like.
Rosalinde: You’re very active in presenting your work in fairs, libraries, bookshops and schools. What do you like most about that?
Susan: Although I am naturally shy, I adore going to schools and talking with kids about books and art. I truly love the process of making books and I’m enthusiastic about showing it. As a matter of fact, this summer I will be giving a clay illustration master class in Rwanda to help train artists to produce books in the Kirwandan language (through Save the Children). I love the excuse to play with clay and share that passion with others !
Susan: I have a couple that are in the hopper. My dream project is to illustrate one of my own stories that incorporates my love of the natural world. I have several I have been kicking around for a lot of years and I would love to see them come to fruition. And of course I have lots of ideas for new Poppy books too !
Susan Eaddy Bio
Susan Eaddy works in her attic studio writing picture books and playing with clay. She was an Art Director for fifteen years, has served as a judge for the Audie Awards for 10 years, and has won international 3D illustration awards and a Grammy nomination.
Her clay-illustrated trade books include, My Love for You is the Sun by Julie Hedlund and Papa Fish’s Lullaby by Patricia Hubbell, and her clay artwork appears regularly in Babybug, Ladybug, Click and Spider Magazines. She is the author of Poppy’s Best Paper and Poppy’s Best Babies (illustrated by Rosalinde Bonnet) and the forthcoming Eenie Meenie Halloweenie, (illustrated by Lucy Fleming). www.susaneaddy.com
Watch the book trailer on Rosalinde's website - click on the image: