“ON A PERFECT DAY I HEAD OUT AT SUNRISE AND SKI THROUGH THE WOODS, AND LISTEN TO THE WIND. IF I AM LUCKY I HEAR THE OWLS AND SPOT A WHITE TAIL DEER PEEKING BETWEEN THE TREES.”
It's time again for another interview with an author/illustrator as part of my Children's Authors and Illustrators Interview feature. This month I'd like to introduce you to my good friend Wende Essrow! She is author and illustrator of Paintbrush Dreamer and her latest children's book, If You Listen to The Trees.
I met Wende at a very serendipitous point in my life and it was my introduction to her that lead to me publishing my first book. Wende visited the East Aurora Art Society meeting one cold February night to share her latest picture book with us. I was immediately smitten with Wende and wanted to learn more about how she got published. She readily shared everything she knew with me and we became fast friends over the last three years. I can't wait for you to meet her! Below is my interview with Wende that took place over coffee and e-mail.
You have been an inspiration to me ever since I met you at the East Aurora Art Society meeting three years ago when you published your firstpicture book Paintbrush Dreamer. Who are some people who inspire you?
I have been inspired by many authors and artists over the years. One author that I love is Sigurd Olsen. He has written beautiful books about his solo travels in North Country areas. I also love to solo hike and explore. Olsen's capacity to bring his reader along for his adventures at hand is exceptional. I also refer back to my childhood fairytale collection, The Fairytale Book (by Golden) illustrated by Adrienne Segur, a true master of beautiful fantasy illustrations. There are so many beautiful picture books I could go on forever. One book, The Whales' Song by Dyan Sheldon and illustrated by Gary Blythe is another favorite. I actually had the distinct pleasure of corresponding with the author who kindly volunteered to review my first manuscript. I also received a beautiful letter from France from the illustrator. I was so overwhelmed by the art I wrote to the publisher who forwarded my letter directly to the artist. The artist wrote back a beautiful letter which I cherish and have kept in the book for over 25 years as a reminder to always try to connect with my reading audience in a personal way.
What made you decide to become and author/illustrator of picture books?
I have always painted and written poetry and kept a journal. When my children were younger I would read bedtime stories and make up stories as well. My youngest son is a graphic artist and for my birthday decided to give me the gift of his time. He called and said Mom, "It is time you share your stories with a greater audience. I always loved them and I want you to learn how to design a book so you can share them." He basically encouraged me to put together a story and helped me work it into a manuscript. I loved the first project, showed to an indie bookstore owner and he said, "you have something very special here." From that point on, with a project in hand I met with a publisher and the journey began.