1) Where do you get your ideas?
When I’m in receiver mode (daydreaming) I think about curious events in my every day life. I think about occurrences in my childhood. I think about odd and funny newspaper stories, and conversations between local characters. I use my imagination to paste these things together to make an interesting story.
2) What is a normal day like for you?
A normal day? Boys wrestling on the trampoline outside my studio window, opera blaring on the stereo, me working at my tornado of a desk with a cat sprawled over my papers and a dog opening the screen door in the next room so she can chew her bone on the living room carpet – that’s a normal day!
3) Where do you work?
I write in a log cabin in our back yard, my only distraction a window that looks out into our jungle-like garden. I paint in a well-lit room in the centre of our house, cluttered to the ceiling with supplies and curious objects.
4) Please tell us about your family or children. Any pets?
My husband of 30 years is a transplanted Dutchman. We have two children – a twenty-one year old daughter and a ten year old son. Our daughter studies writing at the University of Victoria. Her brother skateboards, snowboards, and invents songs for piano and guitar. We have a “stout” Golden Lab and two obnoxious cats. Our son’s room houses a thriving aquarium of tropical fish.
5) What do you enjoy creating the most?
In writing, I like the stage when the elements of my imagination and my internal wordsmith fuse to create something that feels original and calls out to be illustrated. In illustration, I enjoy creating the story board – constructing the page-by-page layout of the book.
6) Do you ever put people or places you know in your artwork?
Often – sometimes just their ears or noses or their hair. Sometimes I mix and match characteristics of people I know. Much of my yard and household shows up in my books. The house in the Clee series was built by my husband, Leo.
7) What do you use to make your artwork?
I use Winsor Newton tube watercolours, natural bristle brushes, and medium-grain quality watercolour paper. And a big jar of water which my cat drinks out of..
8) Tell us about when you sold your first piece…
I sold my first piece in Grade twelve: a story in rhyme that I had written and illustrated outside of school. I sent it to a tiny publishing company with two watercolour images and they sent me back $100.! Unfortunately that year their funding was cut, and I was cut with it. I still have that manuscript in my bottom drawer.
9) Who inspired you the most to be an artist?
At home my parents encouraged me, even when I doodled on inappropriate things. At the library, my librarian friend introduced me to the illustrations of Maurice Sendak. In Grade four, I copied his Hector Protector from cover to cover.
10) Any advice for young readers, authors and illustrators?
Read in front of the television set. Push the “mute” button. Read further, then pull the plug!