Greetings to my friends here at Kent Holloway Online! Sorry I missed last week, but I was just so busy (and not really feeling very well), so I decided to skip a week. But let me tell you! Be expecting some great new interviews coming up starting with tonight’s featured author! I’ve been hard at working lining up some incredible talent (including a couple of rather big surprises in the next few weeks!). But for now, let me introduce you to one AMAZINGLY talented author…Carrie Clickard.
I fell in love with the world of children’s books as soon as I could read myself. The tongue tickling rhymes of Dr. Seuss, the magic of a C S Lewis or Edward Eager, the wonder of fanciful creatures like the Moomins and the Wombles, the breath stopping beauty of the illustrations by Arthur Rackham, Mercer Mayer, Maurice Sendak. When I discovered how much fun writing my own stories could be I wanted to be able to do those amazing illustrations as well. So I started writing, and drawing, and hoping. I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, attended every workshop I could find, and when I got brave enough, I picked up a copy of the Children’s Writers and Illustrators Market, and started sending out queries and manuscripts. Then one day that first “yes, we want to pay for your work” came through – and I knew I was hooked. Writing children’s books was simply something I had to do.
When I compare writing to illustration they each give me a different kind of satisfaction. Writing children’s fiction is a lot like telling yourself a bedtime story. If you’re doing it right, the words and the characters themselves will surprise and delight you along the way. Illustrating is more meditative, a soft, wordless discovery of what those lines on the paper will grow into. My characters seem to introduce themselves from the nose outward, so it’s a bit like walking a spiral path that ends in meeting a new friend.
2. Looking at all the projects you’ve done in the past, which would you consider to be your most important work…the work you’d want EVERYONE to know about? Which would be your most fun to work on? And which would be the most fun for readers to take a look at?
I should say that I love all of “my fictional children” equally, but I do have my favorites. For sheer fun, my picture book, Victricia Malicia with the tongue twisting rhymes and piratical follies is a great read, if you can just wait till its release next Spring. As a reader and as a writer, The Nightmare Market, (sadly no longer in print) let me explore the darker side of my imagination and create wickedly shudderous words. As an illustrator, I’d have to say Sydney, my stealth pygmy elephant who uses his talent for hiding to stay invisible in New York has been one of the most enjoyable projects, along with an upcoming project A Dragon called George. In the children’s book world, my work stays on the “windy side of care”, as the old saying goes, so the focus is fun. I aim to delight my readers, not hammer home a profound message. So oddly enough the one book I want everyone to know about is always the next book I have dancing around in my head, the ones not yet published. Those are the ones I’ll bore you to death talking about if you give me half a chance.
3. Besides children’s books, you also have an interest in young adult/science fiction (they’re a work in progress I know) and historical mysteries. What can you tell us about these projects?
Clarity, my science fiction WIP, is so much fun to write, I can’t seem to stop. It’s primarily set on two planets, Celibore and Giglak. Once a vacation paradise, Giglak has become the pariah planet of the great Celibore empire, doomed by the incurable osteo-arcus disease, known as the “bone-bender”, with its horrible convulsions and coma-like sleep. Now a virtual prison planet, its inhabitants under permanent military quarantine, Giglak has developed a thriving aboriginal culture without the comforts or controls of Celibore civilization. Korinna, raised in the Giglak camps, is contentedly ignorant of Celibore ways or her blood ties to the Voxtress, the calculating viperous leader of the Celibore High Council. When the bone-bender takes Korinna’s mother the Voxtress descends on Giglak to claim her granddaughter, thrusting Korinna out of her superstitious, myth-bound culture into the cold, constricting life of a Celibore citizen. Unknown to the Voxtress, the grieving Korinna is carrying more than memories with her. Inside this young girl is the proof that the long rumored and government denied Giglak “talents” are real. When Korinna discovers her ability to awaken Celibore’s lost sentient races, she inadvertently exposes the web of corruption, secrecy and death that are the foundation of the Celibore empire. Appalled at the crimes against other sentients committed by her own family, Korinna sets off to find the one race she hasn’t yet awakened, the legendary Arbaz.
Kaitlin Mathers and the Horror of Hoarshanks, is an historical mystery with a supernatural twist. Kaitlin works as a folklore researcher, traveling throughout the expanding United States gathering tales of the supernatural and folk magic traditions for her uncle, an eminent museum curator. The problem is that the stories Kaitlin records are turning out to be more than “old wives’ tales” – they’re real. When she digs into the roots of an obscure Appalachian tradition of sacrifices to the mythical “Old John”, Kaitlin faces trial for murder, and worse, Old John himself.
4. Berenice the Traveling Bear…tell us about that project? Where did the idea come from? Are these places you’ve actually been to get so many cool photos with Berenice and the places that bear has been? Any interesting stories you’d like to share?
Berenice began as a joint project with my lifelong friend Barb, who is an elementary school teacher back in Michigan. Barb’s classroom has a bear named Bob who the children take home on weekends and journal about their shared activities. Barb and I got to talking about how much more the kids could learn if Bob travelled further afield. So I suggested a “cousin” named Berenice who could travel with me. And yes, Berenice lets me travel with her, so we’ve seen quite a lot of the world. Our latest trip, to Egypt and Jordan, is currently up on her blog at www.berenicebear.com. This fall the pages will change over to China, followed in rotation by Greece and Crete, the Amazon, Australia, New Zealand, the UK, France, etc.
The best part of travelling with Berenice is how quickly she makes friends. Rigged out in her safari gear, she charms adults and children alike, even when we don’t speak a single word in common. She’s such an ambassador of friendliness it’s often hard to take her back home with me. I’ve been offered some very strange objects in exchange for Berenice… including a baby goat, which was tempting , but only for a minute. One young traveler who was bravely exploring the catacombs in Paris found courage by holding Bernice’s hand “so Berenice won’t be scared.” And at one charming guest house in New Zealand, Berenice was given her own spot at the breakfast table, complete with a serving of honey and biscuits.
5. Your upcoming book “Victricia Malicia” sounds REALLY fun and cool. What’s it about? Who’s it for? When’s it due out?
Victricia Malicia is rhyming romp of a picture book for 4-8 yr olds about a young pirate girl who is completely unhappy about being a pirate. “Her cradle was ship shape, her blankie was black. She learned her first words from a parrot named Jack…. ” but Victricia wants only one thing: to be on dry land. Her un-piratical land-lubbing ways create havoc on board until a scaly, scary visitor arrives …. and that’s all I can say or I’ll spoil the surprises. Victricia Malicia is being illustrated by the immensely talented Mark Meyers, published by a wonderful house, Flashlight Press, and should be out in time for next spring.
6. When you’re not writing, illustrating, or blogging, what do you like to do for fun?
I read, travel, cook, attend the theater and concerts of all kinds. I do a bit of RPG gaming, feed my ever growing school of koi fish, catch drum corps and winter guard competitions when I can and am currently learning American Sign Language.
7. You have created a very cool curriculum for children’s Sunday School and VBS called Bible Tails. What can you tell us about that? How might a children’s worker at a church use this curriculum? How exactly does it work?
Oooh, shameless self promotion time! Bible Tails provides Sunday School teachers and homeschoolers with a fun, fresh gospel lesson for every week in the year. Starring a cast of fun loving woodland creatures, each week’s 2 page handout starts with an illustrated front page story and coordinated pencil page with age appropriate puzzles. Then a teacher can expand as much as their budget allows with coordinating craft and game packs that include themed snacks, songs, and take home with family activities to reinforce the lesson throughout the week. So Bible Tails can be tailored to fit whatever a church needs, whether they’re simply looking for a keep ‘em busy worksheet, or a full Sunday School program. The curriculum can be purchased by subscribing for the summer, the school year, year round, or you can purchase a “gospel pack” to work your way through Matthew, Mark, Luke or John. To round out the program there are student reward stickers, puppets, puppet scripts and free puppet stage designs. And they can all be found at www.holymoleyandfriends.com
8. I’ve had numerous authors/writers on this blog, but you’re my first professional illustrator. If someone wanted to become a professional illustrator, what would they need to do? Any advice you could offer them?
Other than the expected advice to find the best art school you can afford, I have two bits of more personal advice to offer. The first is simply: don’t stop drawing. No matter what chaos life coughs up, make time to work on your art. If you truly have the passion to illustrate this will sound like common sense. But the world around us has a way of providing persistent interference – and it’s hard for other people to see your “doodling” as a priority. You have to carve out that time to work on your craft, no matter what. Now the second bit of advice is harder: you must develop the courage, and the humility, to accept critiques. A few rare people are born with an artistic gift that flows naturally and need no guidance. But for the rest of us, we hone our skills only when we are willing to expose our work to more practiced eyes and accept criticism. It’s heart-breakingly hard to expose a work you’ve put your soul into, and risk hearing a teacher’s or a peer’s negative comments. But those are the moments that challenge an artist to try something new, to push themselves further, to see with different eyes. Every response to your work can help you improve – don’t miss that opportunity.
Thank you so much Carrie for such a great interview! If you want to know more about Carrie and her work, check out her website at: http://www.clclickard.com/. And keep your eyes peeled for more of her books (I’ll be sure to keep you guys posted)…including Willy Wiggles and the Weaving Web written by yours truly and illustrated by Carrie!