In today’s Picture the Books Two Debut Interview, debut author Camille Andros discusses PAX AND BLUE with debut author/illustrator Lori Richmond.
PAX AND BLUE is illustrator Lori Richmond’s authorial debut (Simon and Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books, Fall 2017). Pax is the littlest everywhere he goes. In school. At playtime. On the train. Then Pax meets a pigeon at the park—he names him Blue and makes a friend who knows what it’s like to be small. And understanding each other can lead to the best friendships. You can purchase Pax and Blue now, or ask for it at your favorite bookseller.
CAMILLE: Hi, Lori! I thought we could take a page out of Cece Bell and Lauren Castillo’s pro book and have a conversation like they did on Phil and Erin Stead’s Number Five Bus blog.
Which brings up several of my favorite things…Cece Bell, Lauren, and the Stead’s. It doesn’t get much better than those four, does it? You are lucky enough to know Lauren right? When did you guys meet?
LORI: Yes! Lauren was a former student of my husband’s at School of Visual Arts MFA program. But the first time she and I personally connected was at her reading of CITY CAT at Greenlight Bookstore in Brooklyn.
CAMILLE: Ahhh…the Brooklyn connection. Nice! CITY CAT is adorable. It reminds me a bit of YOUR darling new book PAX AND BLUE!
Do you have favorite authors and/or illustrators that inspire you and your work or PAX AND BLUE specifically?
LORI: I know, Brooklyn is everywhere, especially in kid lit. I absolutely love Bernard Waber’s LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE. Lyle is this big green thing on every page that stands out against all the neutral backgrounds. I wanted PAX AND BLUE to be a modern version of this. Since the story is about the emotional connection between two friends, I wanted them to really stand out on every page and have their surroundings recede. The background people and environments all visually blend together in the same shade of purple-y gray to allow the eye to go right to Pax and Blue. Was that answer too long?
CAMILLE: Not at all. I love it! I love to hear the process/reasoning behind the story and the art. I’m not an illustrator but the art has always been my favorite part of picture books. I love LYLE, LYLE CROCODILE and I love how you incorporated the elements you loved from it into PAX AND BLUE.
Do you remember CRICTOR by Tommi Ungerer? I remember staring at those pictures for what seemed like hours. I was fascinated by the idea of a friendly helpful snake.
How does your process work? Do you come up with the story first and then art or does an image come to you that you create a story around?
LORI: The story always comes first. Even if the full narrative isn’t there, there is some idea or basic outline in place before I begin drawing. I admire those artists who live with characters for years in their sketchbook and have a lightning strike. That never, ever happens to me. It’s usually not even raining. Writing is hard.
CAMILLE: I think so too. The only time I’ve ever had a lightning strike was when I was a senior in high school and I hadn’t finished an AP English assignment to write a Thanksgiving poem. My subconscious must have worked on it all night because I woke up early the next morning and wrote the weirdest, wackiest, poem in about one minute flat about decapitating a Thanksgiving Turkey. My teacher read it to every class, and I was so proud. I wish I knew what happened to that poem.
Someone asked me this question once and I thought it was interesting. If you could take credit for writing/illustrating one picture book already out there, which one would it be and why?
LORI: Fun question! I really love THE CARROT SEED by Ruth Krauss and Crockett Johnson. It is deceptively simple with spare text and simple drawings of figures without environments. But the message of never giving up on what you believe in is so universal and timeless.
CAMILLE: Yes! It’s the deceptively simple books that are some of the best. I could go back and forth picking your brilliant brain like this every day, but I should let you get back to creating beautiful books.
I’ll leave you with this one last question. If you could tell anything to your six-year old self what would you say?
LORI: “Lori, when you are in 5th grade, you will win the school spelling bee on the word ‘bivouac.’ This will happen after a several-round final battle against a kid named Billy. It will be an incredible triumph that you will continue to share with people when you’re 40.”
CAMILLE: I can’t think of a better note to end on. Thanks Lori!
Now, everyone should go check out PAX AND BLUE available wherever books are sold!
Lori Richmond is a corporate creative director turned picture book author-illustrator. Her first solo book, Pax and Blue (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), released February 2017. Her second solo book, Bunny’s Staycation (Scholastic), will debut in 2018. Lori is also the illustrator of A Hop is Up! (Bloomsbury) and two more books coming in 2018. As a former contributing editor and media spokesperson for pregnancy and parenting brand, The Bump, Lori has appeared as a sought-after expert on all things baby on TODAY, Good Morning America, CNN, and more. She lives and creates with her family in Brooklyn, NY. Learn more about Lori at www.LoriDraws.com and on Twitter @loririchmond
Camille Andros is the author of Charlotte the Scientist is Squished, her picture book debut, illustrated by Brianne Farley (HMHKids/Clarion, March 2017). She loves asking questions and won first place in the school science fair when she was in Kindergarten. She lives in Chapel Hill, North Carolina with her husband and six children who know a little something about being squished. Visit Camille online at www.camilleandros.com on Twitter @camdros, and Instagram @camilleandros.
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