Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 31 January 2020

From Brightly: 11 Books About Kindness for Kids Ages 3-5

From The Guardian: Children's and teens roundup: the best new picture books and novels

From EW: Who's the star of the Hunger Games prequel? Read the exclusive first excerpt

From the University of Glasgow: Call for Papers for the first OUTLANDER CONFERENCE

From SLJ: We Need Diverse Books Names 2020 Walter Dean Myers Award Winners Also, Reese Witherspoon Seeks Book Club Librarian-in-Residence

From PW: WI15: Cummins Speaks, Booksellers Divided on 'American Dirt'

From The Bookseller: Peter Riley wins Profile Aitken Alexander Non-Fiction Prize

From Nathan Bransford: What does it mean to be your "real self" online?, also What is a character arc?

From SLJ's Fuse #8: Cover Reveal (and Excerpt!): Everything Sad Is Untrue (a true story) by Daniel Nayeri

From Library Journal: Missouri Bill Proposes Parental Review Board for "Age-Inappropriate" Material, Legal Penalties for Noncompliance

From The Bookseller: McDougall joins S&S Children's from HarperCollins as creative director (UK)

From Nathan Bransford: My plot framework

From ChronicleVitae: Scholars Talk Writing and The (Not-So-)Secret Way to Attract Majors to Your Department

From Bookshelf: Rubook bookcase

THE 3X3 ILLUSTRATION SHOWS No.17 - click to enter, and the
and Muddy Colors is offering a scholarship - a free booth at the next Spectrum Fantasy Art Symposium. Don't know what Spectrum is? CLICK HERE!

From PW: THE AWARDS ARE IN! Craft, Kadir, King Win Newbery, Caldecott, Printz

From Heroes Aren't Hard to Find: The annual Charlotte Mini-Con is coming up on February 7th, featuring Sanford Greene, Adam Hughes, and Brian Stelfreeze

From Muddy Colors: 12 Problems Artists Have With Making Effective Compositions - This is GOOD - a must read! Also, This is What You Want, This is What You Get and 5 YEARS OF DEAR ART DIRECTOR (Links to GREAT articles!) One more: "Goblin Ambush!"

From the National Parks Arts Foundation: New residencies available! (Get a paid vacation to paint!)

From January Newsletter packed with good info!

From the Bologna Children's Book Fair: 2020 Selected Illustrators

From Hire an Illustrator: The Results Are IN! Here is the State of Illustration 2019

Carowinds Kaman's Art Shoppes is hiring for the summer! These are the folks who do caricatures and t-shirt painting.

From SLJ: Books on Film: How Picture Books are Illustrated with Soyeon Kim

From The Guardian: Every Studio Ghibli film - ranked!

From The Art Room Plant: Paula Metcalf

Brian Wildsmith

From Joe Jacobi: Deep Work Math - a new way to look at goal setting

Eugenia Nobati's EEK! You REEK!

Jane Yolen and Heidi Stemple have a new book out with the best title: EEK! You REEK! I just love the illustrations in this funny story, so was eager to interview their illustrator, Eugenia Nobati. English isn't her first language so I truly appreciate her taking the time to translate and answer my questions!
e: What was your creative process/medium for EEK! You REEK!, can you walk us through it?
I am fundamentally a children's book illustrator, and greatly enjoy humorous texts. It is a pleasure for me to illustrate such books. When I first read Heidi and Jane's poems I really got excited because they gave me the opportunity to draw what I like the most and have fun in the process (this is the reason I chose this profession).
      Like with any other book, the task began with several readings of the poems. In this particular case, I also needed to search for appropriate visual sources, so the species showed in the book were recognizable and their habitat was correct. Then I began to sketch the images, which in some cases were complex because they included all the animals mentioned in the book. It was almost like a puzzle. That's my favorite moment: sketching with paper and pencil.
      For the color I scanned my sketches (I included my own pencil lines and the dirt of the graphite on the paper to give the image a warmer texture), then I painted digitally.
e: What was your path to publication?
In this particular case, the contact came through my agency, AdvocateArt, and the moment I read the text by Heidi and Jane, proposed by Lerner, I was very excited. I knew it was going to be a book I was going to enjoy.
e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of this story?
We should ask the authors of the text, but in my case, it must have been making faces while drawing... I can't help but make faces imitating what I draw while I work. I don't do it consciously, but I guess it helps me identify with the character I am trying to represent.
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call “Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
I think that's different for each illustrator. The secret for me is to fall in love with the text, and to feel engaged to tell that particular story the way I see it. When that happens, ideas arise almost spontaneously, even though there's still a process of polishing and selection.

e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
In the pre-internet era I visited the publishing houses with my samples under my arm—that's how I started. Fortunately things changed a long time ago.
      I am not a good self-promoter, and I have a hard time finding the moments to upload my work to the networks (formerly a blog, later Facebook, now mostly Instagram). I periodically push myself to review and upload illustrations from my latest published works. My agency helps a lot in that, from time to time they remind me that I have to take care of promotion.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
The first stage of sketching, when I start looking for a shape for the characters with pencil and paper, that's at the same time the most challenging moment and my favorite part. I enjoy it immensely.
e: Is there something in particular about this story you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
One of the things that I loved about these poems is that I think they show that things that are maybe unpleasant for some can be great for some others. I think it helps to understand and respect diversity of interests.

e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am very excited with a project of new funny poems with animals, they are my favorites! My dream project is changing all the time, but for a long time I've been thinking in a book about very crazy and funny villains. I'm working on that in my free time.
Question from Heidi Stemple:
One of the coolest things (in my humble opinion) is the fact that you figured out how to illustrate smell--something that is, really, unillustratable. It's as if you branded the Eek You Reek odor--it is immediately recognizable on each page. Can you tell us how decided you were going to need to do that, and then, how you came up with the idea.
I've been a fan of comics since I was a teenager. A graphic language that represents nonvisual elements like movement, smell or sound, is fundamental part of comics. Odor is a protagonist in Eek, You Reek!. The way I chose to represent it is not the only one posible, but the it’s the one I felt best fits into these complex scenes.

e: Thank you, Eugenia and Heidi! I can't wait to see your next books! :)

Picture Book Trends: A Curated Workshop

If you've ever thought of learning more about the trends happening each year in the children's publishing industry, now is the time to sign up! This summer, I will once again be teaching my Picture Book Trends: A Curated Workshop at Hollins University from June 8th through 12th in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains of Roanoke, Virginia.
     Since the books we study are the best from publishing houses submitted for the annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize, the collection changes every year. This means no two workshops will ever be the same. So, come once, or come every year. Either way, it's a great opportunity to stay on top of publishing trends. Here's the official blurb:
Are you a teacher or librarian overwhelmed by the prospect of picking out the best new picture books for your young readers? Are you a creator who needs to stay on top of today’s picture book marketplace? If so, let this expert guide you on a curated reading journey.

Over the course of five days, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator, Elizabeth Dulemba, will walk you through the picture book submissions for the annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize and other best-sellers, covering current themes and trends, and pointing out the written and visual tricks that make them popular, successful, and beloved. By the end of the week, you will have a solid grasp of the current picture book landscape to better prepare you to recommend books to others or create them yourself.

Sessions will cover:
Guided group readings on key elements to look for in picture books Readings of current trade picture books Investigation of common picture book themes Identification of picture book trends occurring via words and pictures Immersion into picture book design elements that sway readers Resources to stay on top of the marketplace after the workshop ends

Class goals:
We will create a reading list of books for you to use in your library, classroom, or home. Individuals will keep reading journals, although, no grades will be assigned. The intensive is limited to 12 participants. Bring your favorite picture books to share.
Read about last year's workshop HERE, or CLICK HERE to learn more and register. Hope to see you there!

Come Draw With Me at the York County Museum!

Saturday was the annual Come Draw With Me celebration at the Museum of York County. The museum has an astounding collection of African taxidermy animals with an interesting history. The story goes that a Rock Hill councilman was on a flight to Washington, D.C. and ended up sitting next to Maurice Stans. Stans had been on Nixon's re-election committee back in the 60s. He was a wealthy man and a big-game hunter, but he was getting old, and his children didn't want his collection. So, the two men parted with a handshake agreement that if York County would build a facility worthy of Stans' taxidermy collection, they could have it. Hence, the amazing collection in the wonderful museum.
     Now, however you feel about taxidermy, all of these beasties were acquired back in the 1960s. And whereas if they were still in Africa, they would have long ago turned to bones and dust, now they reside in a museum where children and artists of all ages can learn more about these amazing creatures and create art that disseminates a message of conservation to a wider audience. The museum embraces the positive, scientific, and artistic value of their specimens opening their doors to the community for free once a week and during the Come Draw With Me event, and it really is something special.
     They have displays that show the process of making taxidermy, both the beasties...

and the dioramas in which they sit on display.
     This year, forty artists signed up to come sit and draw whatever they wanted to concentrate on—anything from bugs to buffaloes. Many of the artists were Winthrop students. Here are (from the back) Joy, Noel, and Sierra.

Here's Josh drawing (he recently shaved his head and dyed his hair to one of the colors in his personal color palette - HA!)...

he was drawing this guy, a HornBill.

And here's David, in the zone.
     My predecessor, David 'Doc' Brown was integral in putting together this annual event, here we are together, mentor (him) and mentee (me).
Rather than draw, he introduced me around to artists from across Rock Hill who look forward to the event every year.
Artists such as Dr. Brad Sabelli, who showed everyone around...

before doing some painting of his own,

and illustrator Herb Dumaresq,
who gave an impromptu portfolio review to a recent Winthrop graduate, Lilly.
     In fact, several artists I met used to live in Pennsylvania or New York City as professional illustrators, but moved to Florida for retirement, found it too hot, and ended up half-way back in Rock Hill. It seems there's an artists' colony blooming here that I wasn't yet aware of, and with a supportive local council, more arts support is in the works. It's an exciting time to be in this fast-growing city.
     Certainly, it was thrilling seeing so many generations enjoying the same practice with equal intensity and mingling together over a shared passion. Truly, the event was an enormous hit! I mean, how often in life do you get the chance to draw while sitting in the shadow of a Giant Eland...

or standing nose to knee with a giraffe?
Maybe next year I'll actually sit and draw too - ha!

ABC - Arts in Basic Curriculum

Friday I had the wonderful opportunity to attend the annual Arts in Basic Curriculum Conference hosted but the 2020 South Carolina Arts Higher Education Forum at Winthrop University. This is a gathering of art educators and education policy-makers from across the state who come together to discuss how the arts can be more strongly valued, better graded, and generally better promoted within the state. Dean Jeff Bellantoni, my boss at the CVPA - College of Visual and Performing Arts, opened the conference. To the left is Kim Wilson, Director of the ABC.
Part of the reason for the event is to meet fellow educators from across the state, and as I'm prone to simply say 'hi' and make friends with people, I did exactly that, sitting at a table with several interesting people all advocating for the arts.
     The Keynote was Dr. Ron Beghetto, Pinnacle West Presidential Chair and Professor at Arizona State University. He talked about how we tend to overplan our student's curriculum, which can hurt their creativity.
He said that,
"...creative self-efficacy and high school rank showed a significant negative correlation. This finding indicates that students who are more academically successful in high school may be less likely to consider themselves to be creative. (Pretz & Kaufman, 2015)"
He had some wonderfully inspiring slides, like this one of the path of creativity.
He also included this inspiring quote by Miles Davis.
For indeed, it's what we do next that is most important.
     Why is all of this so important anyway? Because it translates to jobs for our students.
     South Carolina ran a survey of companies a few years ago, asking them what traits they most valued in employees. Ironically, exact skills, the things schools most assess, weren't even on their lists. What they wanted most was employees with perseverance, adaptability, and problem solving skills. These are exactly the things that the arts teach.
     I'm finding that outside the world of the arts, instructors are fascinated by how we creatives think. They want to understand the alternative to hard science and numbers, and how one goes about learning to think differently. With all of the concentration on STEM skills in primary schools (leaving out the A=Arts), those skills are becoming in high demand. And that's exactly what we teach!
     Our future depends on people who can pivot and adapt with new technologies, and an arts education is one of the best ways to prepare oneself to do exactly that. It was validating to hear the data behind what we creatives have always known. It was also a wonderful introduction to the advocates of arts education state-wide. I'm so glad Winthrop is at the helm of this important discussion!

VIDEO: Cory Godbey Demo

Cory Godbey is one of my all-time fave illustrators. So I love when he shares his process, like he did for the background on this GIANT TROLL for Muddy Colors. Click the image to go have a look.

My Kids

I always consider my students 'my kids' - no matter their ages. In my Narrative and Editorial class, my kids just finished their first project - postage stamps with environmental awareness themes - and wow, did they kick it out of the park! I was such a proud mama bear, I had to get a photo of them with their projects. From the left are Joy, Sierra, David, Josh, Izzy, Erin, Eli, and Mars. J.J. isn't in the picture because he is in a leg brace at the moment behind the camera.
Their stamp themes were bees and pesticides, icebergs melting, saving dying reefs, walking with nature, Australia's wildfires, renewable energies, Puerto Rico's Golden coquí frog, and environmentally sustainable edible cups. What a great job they did. SO PROUD!

VIDEO: Tomorrow's on Fire

Watch this beautifully animated short with a profound message - "Tomorrow's on Fire." Click the image to watch at

Friday Links List and Illustrators' Treehouse News - 24 January 2020

From The Horn Book: 2020 CaldeNotts

From ReadItForward: Your 2020 Literary Horoscope - HA!

From The Guardian: 'Why would I close the door to a queer person?' LGBTQ fantasy comes of age

From The Bookseller: Hamish Hamilton to publish 'The Lost Spells' by Macfarlane and Morris

From SLJ's 100 Scope Notes: That’s So Meta! Recent Metafictional Books (Books about books)

From PW: HarperCollins Launches Quill Tree Imprint

From SLJ: Jason Reynolds Officially Becomes National Ambassador of Young People's Literature at Library of Congress Ceremony and here too Twitterer Carla Hayden from the Library of Congress

From Bookshelf: The Rise of the Book Nook

From Brightly: 11 Middle Grade Books for Environmentally Conscious Kids

From The Bookseller: Donaldson’s decade: children’s author seals 10th year of eight-figure success

From SLJ: The 2020 Project: Thinking About Serving Tweens and Teens with Disabilities in Our Libraries

From Penguin Random House: The BBC’s List of the Most Impactful Novels

From Brightly: Richard Scarry’s 10 Best-Loved Picture Books also How to Talk to Kids About Social Media and Self-Respect and more! The Most-Anticipated Picture Books of 2020

From We Need Diverse Books: Read about their latest accomplishments, news, and opportunities

From Slate: How One Librarian Tried to Squash Goodnight Moon

Do you know about The FANTASY ART WORKSHOP?

Do you know about The Art Licensing Show? They will be in Atlanta soon for the America's Mart Gift Show!

From SLJ: 13 Graphic Novels To Look Forward to in 2020 | Stellar Panels

From Hire an Illustrator: Survey Results are IN!

From SCBWI-British Isles: ILLUSTRATION KNOWHOW Creative Block and ME AND MY AGENT Nick Cross and Heather Cashman

From Diamond Books: Diamond Book Distributors Spring 2020 Announcements

Do you know about the Key Colours Competition? (International Award for the Best Picture Book Concept)

Sign up for the AIGA Design Conference - early bird prices end soon! (Pittsburgh, PA)

From Muddy Colors: Processessessess - good read! Also, Rhythm and Counter Rhythm

From A Casa Tombada: [21/01] A Fantasia, o Design e a Literatura para a infância, com Michaella Pivetti

From The Art Room Plant: Lisa Berkshire

From YA Outside the Lines: The double hustle (Jennifer R. Hubbard) I'm posting this again in the illustrator section this time - it's an important read!

From CommArts: HERC: This elegant and easy-to-navigate site from RONIN Amsterdam shows off HERC’s bold identity and even bolder advertising work.

Register now for HOW Design LIVE Can't go? Have a listen to some of their inspiring HOW PODCASTS

Read the CGSociety newsletter HERE

From CommArts: The Neverlands: Reflecting the exploratory nature and magical experiences of exploring The Neverlands’ venues, ActiveColor’s site design incites the senses through animated illustrations.

From Kidlit Artists: Finding Freedom in the Digital World: How I learned to become slightly less anxious and love the tablet - In her article she mentions ViviBrushes for the iPad

Redbubble has a new policy: Carbon Neutral Creativity - "We’ve partnered with renewable energy specialists 3Degrees to invest in programs that help the environment, offsetting the carbon emissions from shipping Redbubble products."

From The NYTimes: How 17 Outsize Portraits Rattled a Small Southern Town

Carlyn Beccia's MONSTROUS

When I was a kid, I could not get enough of creepy, scary things. So, when I saw the cover of Carlyn Beccia's new MONSTROUS, I got all excited! Turns out there's a little more to it than just interesting beasties. She stopped by to talk about it...
e: Hi Carlyn! What inspired the story, Monstrous?
Fear was my main inspiration for Monstrous, or more specifically, the science of fear. It’s been said many times that authors write the books they wish they had when they were children. I was definitely an anxious child and according to recent studies, anxieties in children are on the rise. I am not sure why this is happening but it could be because we live in a culture of fear where in many situations, our perception of danger is outweighing the real threat of danger.
      That’s where monsters come in….I view every monster’s rise in popularity through history as a mirror to these cultural fears. For example, vampires became popular in the eighteenth and nineteenth century because they reflected a fear of death and disease and a misunderstanding of how diseases were spread. At the time, wasting sicknesses like tuberculosis were confused with vampirism which led to deviant burials. (Burials in which corpses were contained in the grave with boulders, chains, and rocks in their mouths to prevent feeding on the living.) In the Romantic period, Frankenstein became the first sci-fi novel because it reflected a fear of science being stronger than man. Electricity had been discovered and after Galvani’s experiments, many people wondered if electricity could give life. And if it could…. what would be the consequence of men playing god? In the post-war era, Godzilla reflected a fear of self-destruction through nuclear weapons. And currently, as our world becomes more mobile, zombies have a xenophobic bent and reflect a fear of a pandemic taking out the population.
Werewolf (and dogs) just need to be understood.

      In all these examples, knowledge can dispel fear. I want to give kids of all ages the tools to use science (and logic) to control their fears in a way I could not master as a child. It may seem fatuous to educate kids on how to communicate with werewolves but there actually might be a time in their lives where they come across a very angry dog. My hope is that by giving them the tools to survive monsters both real and imaginary, they feel more empowered.
e: Fascinating! What was your creative process/medium for Monstrous, can you walk us through it?
The third image was made by my kids. I asked them to throw paint on a rumpled paper towel. I like to put my kids to work.
      I used a three-step process when creating the art for Monstrous. First, I sketched out a very rough idea of a spread. Second, I used Adobe Illustrator to put together shapes, patterns, and colors in the same way that you would move around cut paper. Third, I scanned in my own mixed media textures and layered them on top of the flat vector art to create more depth. (I did not do the last step with the infographics because I wanted to keep those legible.)
My very messy desk. I sketch on an Ipad pro and paint on a Wacom pressure sensitive monitor. The audio equipment is for my podcast interviews.

What was your path to publication?
I believe success happens when luck, perseverance and talent intersect. That intersection occurred for me when I was working on my first book 16 years ago. At the time, I was doing the corporate slog in a well-known advertising firm. It felt soulless and I needed a new direction. I blindly submitted some circus illustration samples to Houghton Mifflin and waited back for another rejection letter to add to my growing stack. The editor at HM, Ann Rider, saw my circus illustrations and asked if I could write a story around them. Of course, my first reaction was to jump around my office like an overjoyed crack addict (I was doing anti-drug ads at the time).
      My second reaction was - oh, I am not a writer. I can’t possibly write books. I just wanted to illustrate them. So, I sent an email back saying just that.
      Ann’s response was - ok, so why don’t you TRY to be a writer.
      And so, I did. I tried to be this thing I was not.
      I like to tell that story to kids at school visits because I often hear kids (including my own) say things like “I am not a great basketball player. or I am not an artist.” And I want them to say I am not that thing YET.
Important real world survival skills for blood loss and vampires.

e: Fabulous! Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Monstrous? (Although, that was a pretty good one!)
My sense of humor can be a bit twisted. About 5 years ago, I went through a serious illness and had to have a blood transfusion. When I was in the hospital, I was watching The Vampire Diaries and I kept thinking - there is NO WAY anyone could have that much blood loss and survive. I remember wondering why is the vampire always biting the neck? Why not bite the femoral artery instead? And what if a vampire bites you…. how much time do you have before you are dead? Those thoughts became a spread on how to survive blood loss from vampires (or other calamities). My gallows sense of humor is what leads me to come up with many ideas for my books. e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
I love this question! And I am going to get geeky when answering it because that is what I do…
      Due to our brain’s neuroplasticity, technology is changing our brains. EEG scans are showing changes in attention span, memory, and sleep cycles. One study showed frequent Internet users have twice as much activity in the prefrontal cortex compared to sporadic users.
      In other words, in our fast paced, technology driven world, our brains are evolving in a way where attention spans are getting shorter and shorter and even the way we learn is changing. This is why I am drawn to infographics. Infographics give me a way to teach a science concept through pictures in a way that is just as fast paced as my reader’s interactive electronic devices.
On this page, I ask the reader to guess which King Kong traits are factual and which are not before turning the page.

So, I think the art that strikes at the heart is the art that is a fast-paced boomerang and not a blunt instrument. It’s the kind of art that not only communicates quickly but gets the reader to throw it back at you and opens a dialogue. For me, art IS communication. It asks the reader not to just look at the art but to PARTICIPATE with that art. I see the future of art going in this direction where it becomes more and more interactive and less one-sided.

e: Ooo, great answer! How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
When it comes to advertising, I think everyone has their strength. Some people can charm people at book signings. (I have not done one in four years). Others are social media mavens. (This causes me heart palpitations). I like radio, podcast and tv interviews because I prefer one on one interactions and I like to have philosophical conversations with people. I think the most important thing is to find the type of advertising that fits your personality and focus on that area.
      Advertising is a struggle for me because I am very high on the introverted scale. I can’t tell you how many times friends have said to me - “I thought you were such a snob when I first met you.” (sigh) Introverts don’t open up easily. So, this past year I realized that if I did not advertise….my books would never get into the hands of my readers. It’s advertise or die now. With that said, I am going to recommend some “homework” for my fellow introverts who have to playact the extrovert:
Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People by Vanessa van Edwards
If you are curious about behavioral science, you won’t be able to put this book down. You will learn about microexpressions and how to read them. (Microexpressions are the subtle body language we use to reveal are true intentions.) van Edwards has a human lab where she does thought experiments on subjects like; why you should sit in certain spots in a meeting, how to flirt in a way that won’t creep people out (this is important with book signings) or how to have conversations that form more meaningful connections with people.

Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking by Susan Cain
I am recommending this book because I think it is important for introverts to understand their strengths. I realize that I am never going to be the life of the party or miss popularity with a million followers. And I think it is important for every introvert to be ok with their quietness. So, if you’re an introvert, avenues like social media are never going to be your strength but you will probably be able to give a great presentation. (Contrary to popular belief, introvert often excel at public speaking.)

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know About the People We Don't Know by Malcolm Gladwell This is such a strange combination of fascinating stories throughout history combined with behavioral science. It lets you dive into the minds of despots, serial killers, and poets and understand why we invest in the wrong people and misunderstand the right ones.

And of course, the classic - How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie
This should be required reading in every high school. We give kids all these STEM, history and language arts tools but the most important decisions they make in life are the relationships they form and keep. And I think if you are an awkward person like myself, this book teaches you how to communicate with people in a way that is both vulnerable and powerful. No one succeeds without friends. And most authors already know this - when it comes to advertising, your friends are your biggest fans.

      My last bit of advice is that if you know you are not great at advertising…. hire a publicist. Your in-house publicist can only do so much and it is unfair to put the burden on that one person. It might mean that you don’t get to take that vacation, but investing in your passion is one of the most rewarding investments you can make. I used Jennifer Musico and she has got me tons of publicity…. but only the kind I wanted to do.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
Variety. Every morning I wake up and get to decide if I am going to do research, art, design, or write. The challenge with that is I am often pulled in ten different directions. Throw a sick child on that pile and nothing is getting done.
Empathy begins with not eating each other….even if you become a zombie.

e: Is there something in particular about Monstrous you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Empathy. On the surface, Monstrous breaks down the origins of the monsters we fear and gives readers the science to combat those fears. On a deeper level, I want readers to understand that conquering fear also leads to greater empathy. As human beings, we act out in horrible ways when we hold fear in our hearts. That’s when man truly becomes the monster.
      There are a lot of monsters big and small to fear. My hope is that by asking readers to perform vivisections on those fears, it will not only help them become a stronger and better version of themselves, but also see the better version of those around them. I know I sound preachy, but I would like to see more tolerance in the world. With so many virtual connections and fewer REAL connections, I worry that our isolation is increasing our fears and making us less tolerant and accepting of others.
This is my very messy reading corner of my office. The weight of the books is starting to warp the floor. It is so worth it.

e: So true. What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I am working on a more inspirational book called TEN AT TEN. It’s ten famous people told from the standpoint of their ten-year-old selves.
      When I am done, I really hope to do another book on the science behind all the beasts that got cut from the book - dragons, mermaids, unicorns, witches, wizards etc. I feel I still have a lot of “heart art” to give back on this subject. I spent 5 years on Monstrous and I could have easily spent another five.

e: Sounds awesome! I hope you'll visit again and share those too!