Friday, August 7, 2009

SCBWI TEAM BLOG - Exclusive! Zombies can't resist Marla Frazee and an AMAZING CALDECOTT FACT/CONSPIRACY

A short PSA:

Marla's interview is below, but first:

Check out Marla's lovely site.

Here is a screen shot of her site on the ACOBHTBWE page. Look at that humble inclusion of the Caldecott Honor. If I won a Caldecott Honor I would flash it in large neon on my site or make a scratch and sniff web page for it.

Did you know she wrote/illustrated THE BEST CHRISTMAS/SANTA book EVER? Seriously. It may be my opinion, but it is also a fact.

Hear Marla's speech at the 2008 Boston Globe-Horn Book Awards.

And I do believe Ben Watson will be posting about Marla in more of his fantastic Haystack roundup posts. Earlier today he told me if he was single and she was single and he was a lady and she was a dude he would totally have Marla's babies. Oh Ben.


Here's my non-zombie interview with Marla Frazee:

Thanks for the interview, Marla! Most important question first: What is your favorite snack to eat while working on a picture book?

Depends, of course, on the season, my mood, and what I've got around. I maintain equilibrium with a steady intake of caffeine in the form of lattes. I love to cut an avocado in half, salt it, and scoop it out with a spoon. Or I eat small chunks of Manouri cheese with a toothpick. (Love the toothpick! A toothpick and a bowl of garbanzo beans is a snack that can keep you busy for an hour.) But when work gets gnarly and I need to seriously medicate, I go for fistfuls of M&M's. Or if it's really bad, Cheez-Its.

What is your favorite part of the LA Summer Conference experience?

My favorite part of the conference is when, at the end of each day (or maybe even in the middle of each day), people gather outside at the bar and settle into those comfy chairs and order cocktails and tell raucous publishing tales.

Can you give us a hint about your costume for the Blue Moon Ball?

I won't have one. I am a bore when it comes to costumes.

What session or event or person are you most looking forward to at the upcoming conference?

I have been attending this conference since 1983 in the days when about 80 people came, and I think I most look forward to Lin Oliver's welcoming remarks and her continuing banter all the way though it. She and Steve Mooser bring us all together in such a welcoming, generous way, and I find that very inspiring.

Wowzers: You are freshly back from Chicago ALA and picked up your Caldecott Honor! What have the last six months been like?

I was completely floored by this award. As you may know, A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever was born out of the friendship between my son, James, and Eamon, my editor Allyn Johnston's son, and the week the two boys had at Allyn's parents' house. The fact that this book received this award blew us away. Still does, really.

How has technology helped/impacted your career?

I have a website, but I don't spend much time thinking about it or updating it, even though I should. I don't blog. And although I love my laptop for emailing and writing and such, I don't do any illustrating on it at all. I guess I am pretty boring when it comes to costumes AND technology.

What is your top piece of advice to illustrators trying to break into the children's book world?

First, tell stories with your pictures. Work hard on those stories and your images until they are as good and as emotionally engaging as you can make them. Send them to editors and art directors. Weather the almost-certain rejection. Repeat those steps, endlessly and tirelessly. Think about this as an incredible journey that can bring you closer to yourself, your artistic voice, and what you love the most. And maybe it'll be Cheez-Its. Nothing wrong with that.

If you are attending the conference, be sure to check out Marla's sessions:

  • Friday afternoon with Allyn Johnston in the 'Bringing it on Home: Picture Book Endings' workshop
  • Sunday afternoon 'How Your Words Inspire Me to Draw Pictures -- and How They Don't'
Thanks so much, Marla!

And now everyone that isn't interested in winning a Caldecott can stop reading.


Okay. Now that we are alone. If you've seen the other illustrator interviews -- did you notice the CALDECOTT FACT/CONSPIRACY??!!??

Of the illustrators I've interviewed, 100% of the Caldecott medal/honor winners eat CHEEZ-ITs while they are working.

I am going to go buy a truck full. CHEEZ-ITs. Who knew? Maybe CHEEZ-ITs knows. That is where the conspiracy comes in.

If you see me at the conference please come say hi. I'll be the one inhaling a box of orange crackers.


BJW said...

Ahh Marla. What a cool cat. There might not be anything better in the world than an avocado cut in half with salt on it. Maybe a twist of lemon or lime, but not too much.

Not only did she write/illustrate The Best Christmas/Santa book ever, but she also did a nude illustration of Santa to prove to her skeptical son that Mr. C's pear-shaped body was anatomically correct. She showed us in her slide show. One of the happiest moments of my life. Nearly.

Great interview again Jaime. You have climbed the peak of excellence. Look around. Enjoy it. Breathe it in.

And if Cheez-Its are the key to a Caldecott, what's the writer's equivalent? Single-malt? Lattes? What?

Tara said...

I'm with you: Neon letters if I had this honor (and probably a Cafe Press shirt, too). Thanks for the post.

Lee Wind said...

Loved Marla's advice!
great interview,
and thanks for the Cheez-Its tip...


Amy Baskin said...

Great interview, Jaime! Will stockpile Cheez-Its and attempt to grow inwardly from rejections a la Marla.