Friday, January 24, 2014

SCBWI Team Blog Exclusive Interview with Children's Book Editor Peter Brown

To get you in the conference mood, Team Blog has happily asked a few of the faculty to do some pre-conference interviews. Peter Brown's work recently caught my eye for this gorgeous Publishers Weekly cover he did for a recent issue.

Awesome cover image by Peter Brown

Jaime: Hi Peter! You're an editor at not one, but two Harper Collins imprints, Walden Press and Balzer & Bray, and yet you found time to do such a beautiful piece for Publishers Weekly. The limited colors are lovely, lots of atmosphere, kid-friendly, and for a standalone image it's really sparking some narrative ideas—tell me—have you ever thought of not just editing, but illustrating children's books?

Children's book editor Peter Brown

Peter: I think you have me confused with the children’s book editor, Jordan Brown. He’s like a smarter, handsomer, more youthful version of me. Thanks for bringing him up.

Apparently this is Peter Brown

Jaime: Oh! Gosh, sorry for the mix up. So you write AND illustrate? That must be fun. Let's see, all of my other questions concerned what it's like to work with Jon Scieszka... Is there anything you'd like to talk about? Your latest book about lions looks really lovely, can you tell me a little about that? 

Apparently Peter's latest book, who knew?

Peter: For the record, Mr. Tiger Goes Wild is about a tiger, not a lion. You’re not the first person to make that mistake. Whatever the case, my latest book is about a very proper tiger who gradually becomes more and more wild, and eventually takes off his clothes and runs out to the wilderness. It’s my most autobiographical book to date, except that I’m not a tiger, and I’m not a nudist, but I have been known to swim in fountains. Maybe it’s not so autobiographical, after all. It’s probably best if you just watch this video that we made about how and why I made the book:

Jaime: Oh my god, I know that office! I've even worked in that office! You're my friend, Peter! I just always thought your name was Peter Raw Umber! Hey, man. 

Peter: Hey.

Guys, this is Peter Brown!
Jaime: I borrowed your computer once in that very office to work on a book deadline while you recovered from a book tour. You spent the entire day binge watching the final season of Breaking Bad and ordering burrito deliveries. Every few hours you would come into said office to visit me and do some armpit farts. Is there a chance you'll be doing some armpit farting on your conference panel?

Peter: I always reserve the right to rip some epic armpit farts, but I’ll probably just focus on the panel discussion. It’s the Sunday morning keynote panel, moderated by Arthur Levine and the panelists include Shadra Strickland, Raúl Colón, Marla Frazee, Oliver Jeffers and me. With a lineup like that, who needs faux farts?!

Jaime: Oh, man, Jeffers is coming? He owes me some pony money. He's good with picking the paint palettes, but not with picking the horses, know what I mean?

Peter: Typical Jeffers. 

Typical Jeffers

Jaime: Oh, I remember something important I wanted to ask a talent of your caliber about, how do you feel about Viking River Cruises? Or does that ad not play before and after every masterpiece PBS show in NY? Those ads have brainwashed me into wanting a Euro river cruise.

Peter: I like to make fun of the voiceover guy in those commercials. But yeah, it actually looks pretty cool. I bet those ships are crawling with octogenarians looking to party…

Jaime: Peter, I have to run, got a poker game starting with Karen Cushman and Kirby Larson in a few minutes, but before we say goodbye, are there any museums or sights near Grand Central that you think conference goers should definitely check out if they can?

Peter: SCBWI attendees should definitely stroll down to the NY Public Library on 5th Avenue. Besides being a beautiful, historical library, it also has a great children’s book exhibit called “The ABC of it: Why Children’s Books Matter,” curated by Leonard Marcus. Not to be missed!

Great idear, Pete!
Jaime: Thanks, sir.

Peter Brown is one of my favorite persons on the planet and I'm honored to call him my friend. We are all so impressed with the care and attention he puts into writing and illustrating every book, and fingers crossed Mr. Tiger gets some ALA award love this coming week, right? But it's already garnered a lot of kid love, which is a shinier feeling than any medal can bestow and the biggest award of all. 

Not that I don't have some Teamsters on my payroll, not that they aren't working the ALA MidWinter Conference in Philly, not that said Teamsters aren't aware of what to do to the Caldecott Committee come Monday morning if my top award picks don't get picked...

Be sure to watch Peter's process video above, and check out some interviews that are actually good:

And my favorite book trailer of all time remains:

1 comment:

Lee Wind, M.Ed. said...

Great interview - so funny!
Loved the video of the artistic influences for Mr. Tiger, and thought the book trailer for The Purple Kangaroo is a great example of talking to gatekeepers - and being so, so funny!
Thanks, Jaime, and thanks Peter!