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1. Where do you get your ideas?
I get my ideas for my stories from my dreams, from nature and from children. Every year I draw a dream wheel where I record those of my dreams that are inspiring to me and sometimes they are used for new characters or settings. When I want some ideas, I also sit under a tree or by the ocean. When I do my creative writing and art workshops with children, ideas come to me as well.
2. How many books have you written or illustrated?
I have five books and three in the works. I have both written and illustrated and enjoy doing both. One book is a book of poetry with other writers. A book I am presently working on eight storytellers.
3. How long did it take you to write and illustrate a book or do a painting?
"Journey to Dodo Land " took almost four years to complete. Most of the paintings came before the writing.
"Magical Earth Secrets" took almost twelve years from the time I first had the idea till it was published. Since it was a story about the environment, it was really written before its time, and I had to wait for the world to be ready for it. This was difficult for me but now that it is a best seller it was worth the wait. My latest book was written in two weeks.
IIlustrating varies in time - sometimes my paintings are very detailed and take months and sometimes they are more wash-like and can be done in a day.
4. What advice do you have for the children?
I would advise them to try doing a picture of the characters and place where the story takes place before you/them write the story. When I work with the children, they begin by creating Heros and Heroines and Imaginary Maps. The stories then just seem to flow.
5. Is it hard to write or illustrate?
It has usually been very difficult for me to write. I want everything to be right. When writing "Journey to Dodo Land" and "Magical Earth Secrets" I rewrote them 40 times. I have not found illustrating hard and have loved art since I was a child.
6. Who inspired you to do your work?
I have many people to be thankful, for the work I have done. Dale has been my greatest friend for support. My mother was my greatest inspiration as she always encouraged me to be creative. From the time I was a small child she made me feel anything was possible. Tedrian, who produced my book as a play in New York inspired me to dream large dreams. Henryk Binder, "Walking Night Bear," always gave us advice on our dream of working with the children of the world.
7. What kind of materials do you use?
I sometimes write by hand first but then I use the computer to edit. My paints are usually water colour and ink. I have done large acrylic canvases for the shows in New York .
8. Do you do a lot of research for your books?
The Environmental Activity Guide took years of research . This was very difficult as there were few books teaching the environment to children at the time it was written.