The Write Space is a monthly Q&A series from Creative Collective covering a local writer and a North Shore space(s) s/he associates with writing. Questions? Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Give us your best writerly bio.
My art and stories were first reproduced by my teacher from her classroom mimeograph machine when I was in kindergarten. She handed copies to my 5-year old peers and I’ve been hooked on publishing for young readers ever since. These days I’ve created over 25 picture books; having written and illustrated Breathe, The Boy Who Cried Bigfoot and I’ve illustrated Spoon by Amy Krouse Rosenthal, most recently Misunderstood Shark by Ame Dyckman and the New York Times best-selling Rescue & Jessica A Life-Changing Friendship with Jessica Kensky and Patrick Downes. I’m a husband to a librarian and dad to two boys, both voracious readers. We go on lots of adventures together on the North Shore and beyond.
Tell us about a North Shore Write Space.
I like working a in a couple of places in and around Reading but mostly I’m in my home studio. I’ve got tons of legos, books, toys and relics from my own childhood there (alas, no vintage mimeograph machine yet) that make me feel at home and in the right frame of mind to create. Music’s in the air there too. I also try to work outside from my backyard patio—but when I need some true solitude I’ve a hilly spot in the town forest where I’ll sometimes write and sketch. The hill is covered with tall pine trees and the canopy is dozens of feet overhead; from the canopy to the ground below is free of branches and open air—like you’re on a hill of chimneys. Its beautiful and quiet except for the squawking jays and creak of the old trees bending in the wind. Its secluded; I’ve seen deer walk by. If I need some bustle and background noise I’ll do the cafe thing on Main Street and go to Caffe Nero. One can be a country mouse or city mouse around Reading and I like that balance.
When I’m in the North Shore, not writing, I’m …
I run most every day of the week around Reading: in our town forest, down Main Street. I especially love running from my house to, around and back from Lake Quannapowitt in Wakefield. Its about 10 mile route. During my long marathon training this summer I ran the trails and roads of Harold Parker State Park.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the illustrations for a book by the late great Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Its the third book in a series that began in 2007 with Spoon, continued in 2012 with Chopsticks—and now, the last: Straw, out in 2019. Each book in the series uses what’s special about each utensil to tell a relatable and relevant and very punny story. In Spoon it was about a spoon that was envious of what fork and knife could do—but by the end of the story Spoon learns to appreciate his talents—diving headfirst into ice cream among them for instance—that no other utensil could or would do. In Straw the title character drinks up life very quickly missing out on the sublime. After one chilling experience though he learns to slow down and savor the wonder in simplest things—finding the awe. In Straw’s case it could be the rainbow in a bubble or the reddest strawberry at the top of a milkshake for example. Readers will see a young reader and themselves in Straw. Its been fun to go back and draw these characters once more—I hope Amy would have been proud of how it comes out.
And finally . . .
I’ll soon be working on a book about a Mars Rover by Kristin L. Gray for Random House to be published in 2020. And I’ve written a new picture book; its called Linus the Little Yellow Pencil. Its about a pencil who loves to draw and wants to enter the art supply family art show—but every drawing he creates, Ernie, his eraser, erases it. “Its not good enough!” He exclaims. What big idea will draw these two together? Pencil this one in for Fall 2019 and find out.