How do you get the ideas for your books?
When I finish a book, I usually don't know exactly
what I am going to work on next, but I do know that I have lots of different
ways of getting ideas. Sometimes there is something in the book I have
just finished that I want to keep working on (for example, Night City
led to Squeaking of Art in this way). Sometimes I do a book about something
I know alot about (Mr Cookie Baker). At other times I have done books
about subjects I wanted to learn more about (Firefighter Frank). I constantly
jot down words and thoughts, and collect photos and pictures. I have a
big box where I put a lot of these kinds of things, and that is a good
place to go looking for ideas.
Which comes first, the pictures or the words?
I usually start a book visually, with an idea of pictures
I want to paint. I usually start making sketches before I even write any
words at all. Both the pictures and words go through many revisions, and
I am often still working on the final words after I finish the pictures.
How long does it take you to make a book?
It is different for every book. The longest was two years and the shortest
was 6 weeks. From start to finish, it takes me, on average, about a year to
make a book that I both write and illustrate.
Do you use a computer when you make your pictures?
I have a computer but I don't do artwork on it at all.
I make my pictures on paper with paints and brushes. I often use gouache,
a kind of paint that is sort of a grown-up version of poster paint. Sometimes
I also do collage, with cut-outs of different papers that I paint or collect,
using sissors and glue.
Where do you live, and where
do you work?
I live in New York City, in an apartment. My studio space is in my apartment.
I love being able to work right at home.
Do you have children?
I have a daughter and you can see her in many of my books: she is the sunny
little girl with blond hair. In "Crepes by Suzette" I made the collage
illustrations from photographs from our various trips to Paris: you can
spot her somewhere in every picture! She is grown up now and is a ballet dancer with New York City Ballet.
Do you have pets?
I have two cats named Lola and Zoe. I adopted them both from animal rescue
organizations. I always had cats when I was growing up and then for a very
long time I had two calico cats named Chelsea and Pimlico. Cats are in most
of my books!
What are your hobbies?
I love to go to ballet performances, museums and movies. I read a lot,
and lately I've been especially interested in reading books in French.
I travel as much as I can, especially to England and France. I love to
bake sweet desserts and eat chocolate!