What’s it like to put your creative baby into the world?
Creating a book is both wonderful and terrifying. Once terrifying couldn’t stop me anymore, I was finally ready!
This process has been filled with moments of elation and trepidation. I found myself sometimes saying, “don’t judge my child!” But so far the two books in the Desdemona’s Dreams series have been affecting people in such a positive way (our first book: To Dream of Dancing won the Outstanding Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year). The biggest feedback is always curiosity about the details; there is so much wonder in this series!
What’s the hardest part about working together with an illustrator?
Working with Aaron is an interesting endeavor- we vibe really well and usually come up with too many ideas. The hardest part is lining things up in a row. To be honest, I’ve been wary of collaborating with other artists because it can be so frustrating! I’ve had experiences working with other creatives in the past where the projects became battlefields of schedules, egos, and flakiness. I was looking for an artist that was committed to their work, and that could visually bring my books to life. Aaron and I both have the drive to get the work out there.
So, in your opinion what makes a professional artist?
Art is about the purity of expression. But I think the difference between a professional artist and a hobbyist comes down to producing. A hobbyist creates things without a sense of time, because it doesn’t matter if people see their work. A professional, on the other hand, puts dedicated time into their craft because they must show it to the world-
“I must finish this so the world can see.”
Art is the expression, but the urgency and subsequent execution is what makes an artist go pro.
Jumping topics a moment, your book has all main female characters in it, why is that?
For so long the majority of mainstream fairytales have portrayed women as damsels in distress, but, the truth of the matter is, women don’t need men to solve their problems. I think Desdemona’s Dreams having a strong young woman as the lead protagonist, and her two aunts as the matriarchs of her story, will hopefully serve to empower little girls to believe more in themselves. There is enough patriarchy going on in the structure of the modern world, and we need to facilitate less of it.
How do you feel about the patriarchy situation as of this past Tuesday?
To be honest, I wish it surprised me. Unfortunately, my country has lived under the slogan of equality, to cover an extremely bigoted patriarchal system for as long as it’s existed. Perhaps, with all of the ugliness now at the absolute forefront, people will wake up and realize they’ve been living in someone else’s dream, and that it’s not a good one. I think now is the time when empowering women, and girls, not to tolerate the status quo of inequality, is even more important. Nurture the imaginations of our youth, and you grow a better future.
So after a result like that, how do you keep doing this work?
The prospect of positively impacting our current generation of parents, and future generations of citizens, through children’s books is what gets me going again. Just 3 days ago at our first book signing for our new book Desdemona’s Dreams: The Land of Mar I remember two little girls who had traveled to the shop. According to their moms, they had been reading the 1st book to each other over and over from the backseat of the car. They came with so many questions about what was going to happen next. This reinvigorates me- igniting a sense of curiosity and wonder, that sparks the imagination of children as they adventure in Desdemona’s dream world.
Are you recommending escapism?
No. But this world is crazy and we all need to hone our imaginations if we are going to try to create something better.