Amalia Hoffman's MY MONSTERPIECE

I'm happy to have Amalia Hoffman on today. She's been creating children's books for a very long time and I was tickled by her latest picture book, MY MONSTERPIECE—it's so full of JOY! She stopped by to tell us more about it.
e: There is so much JOY in this artwork. It’s obvious you had fun making it. What was your creative process/medium for My Monsterpiece, can you walk us through it?
I decided to create my monsters for the book with art supplies that kids actually use. Children are very free in their creative process. They’ll doodle on any torn paper, the kitchen table, wall — anything! Well, I didn’t doodle on my table or wall, but I did paint on a supermarket shopping bag, crumbled bits of paper, and even paper plates. In some illustrations, I glued on yarn, glitter, buttons and even fruit loops. Kids love to get their hands messy. So I dipped my fingers in gooey blobs of paint. It was very therapeutic. A lot of the art in the book was painted with my fingers, rather then with brushes. I also spritzed paint with a toothbrush, letting the bits of color drop where they may. At the end of the day, my studio was a mess but I felt liberated!

e: You’ve been in the business for years. What advice would you give to others who want to get published?
The best advice I can give other authors and illustrators is to write and create from the heart. By that I mean that any creative journey begins with love and passion for what we do. Working on your stories, try digging deep into yourself, your childhood, and your life experiences. Then, look for a way to make your story compelling and appealing to your readers. Join organizations where you can meet other writers & illustrators, editors and agents such as SCBWI. Make friends with other like-minded folks. The road to publishing could be rough; with many bumps along the way and so I think it’s important to have a supportive group of friends.

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of My Monsterpiece?
Apparently, I was a very temperamental child. When I got angry with my mom and dad, I used to punish them by tearing the greeting cards I created for their birthdays and anniversaries. Years later, when I visited my parents who lived in Jerusalem, I found an envelope with all the bits of torn art that my father saved. When I created My Monsterpiece, I showed the kid’s frustration by creating one spread that feature the kid’s torn monsters. I remember that when I was about 8, I entered a contest, sponsored by a children’s magazine, to draw a scary witch. Apparently, mine wasn’t scary enough because I didn’t win...

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 what makes an illustration magical is when the artist creates an image that is uniquely personal, with imagery that could be interpreted in many different ways by the viewer. To me, “Heart Art” is what I call, “Risky Art,” when artists dare to break out of the safe standard, the “normal”, the “rules”, and strive to create images from their own imagination. In such art, the reader can join in the creative process and discover bits of details every time he or she read the book.

e: How do you advertise yourself and your books?
I advertise myself and my books mostly on social media. When I have a new book coming up, I post the cover reveal and later, a sneak peek of an interior page or two. This creates a “buzz” in anticipation for the new book to launch. For My Monsterpiece, Yeehoo Press created a 5-day countdown for the cover reveal. For the big day, I created coloring and activity pages, based on images from the book, that were offered as free downloads.

Right Click the image above to open a larger version suitable for printing and coloring.
I join social media groups that might have interest in the kind of book I have created or the theme of the story. I create a book trailer for each book, often featuring me as I present the story, wearing an outfit that matches the theme. I love to present my books in a fun way with puppets and props. Over the years, I have composed a mailing list of librarians and teachers. When I have a new book on the horizon, I send information and a proposal for a presentation and also a link to my website which has many free downloadable stuff such as activities, coloring pages, teacher’s guides and even recipes. I also appear on many blogs and have been interviewed by local TV stations. Nowadays, I have adapted my book programs into exciting Zoom presentations and I plan to appear as guest on many Zoom talk shows.

e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
My favorite part of being a creator is when young readers finally get to look at my book and comment on it. This is also the most challenging part of being a creator—hoping that kids will be able to express their reactions to the words and pictures in the story.

e: Is there something in particular about My Monsterpiece you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
What I hope readers will take away with them is the realization that by accepting people that are different from us and by overcoming stereotyping and bias, we can form wonderful friendships and make the world a better place for all.

e: What are you working on next? or what would be your dream project?
My next project is a concept board book, Hanukkah Nights that received the first PJ Library Author and Illustrator Award. It will be published by Kar Ben Publishing in 2022. My dream project is a YA graphic novel, which I’ve been working on for a couple of years.

e: Fabulous! For more information about Amalia and her books, visit her website

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