What kind of books from your childhood inspired you to write?
There are many books from my childhood that have inspired me to write the Jazzy series. The most memorable one is the Twinkle short stories. This was a great series about a young girl, Twinkle, who with the help of her puppy, Lulu was involved in many adventures. I remember looking forward to reading the stories every week.
What was the inspiration behind the Jazzy series of books?
The inspiration behind the Jazzy series is my three year old daughter, Jenna. Jenna is an animal lover just like Jazzy. All the pets in the Jazzy series are out own pets, thanks to Jenna. Puppy is our 16 year old cat. Snowball is our 8 month old dog. Furry and Precious are our budgies and Shue was our goldfish who recently passed away. So, yep, our house is full of pets. I love animals and so do my kids. I feel that kids learn unconditional love and kindness when growing up with pets.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I feel that for a characer to be believable, the read should be able to relate to it. I created Jazzy because I felt that there is a lack of books depicting the power of animals in a child's life. Research has indicated that children who grow up with animals learn to be kind and gentle adults. This is exactly what I am trying to achieve with the Jazzy series.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
Well, I hope so. I know my kids enjoy me reading stories to them. So far, I have read the Jazzy books to my son's preschool class, a mixed group of kids and my older son's third grade class. All of them really enjoyed the stories. Next month, I'm booked to read in two elementary schools in Edina, MN. So...I really hope that I am a good story teller.
Does reader feedback help you? How do you obtain this?
I really appreciate reader feedback because after all, it is the readers that I am trying to relate to with the Jazzy series. I rely on the reader's feedback on the type of story, the illustrations, the media tha tI use to illustrate with and the font that I use. If my readers enjoy the books that I have created, then I feel that I have achieved success. So, I strongly feel that reader feedback is critical in this field. I obtina reader feedback firstly from the most critical group ... my family. My husband and three kids show me no mercy when they read one of my books for the first time. I then pass it on to extended family, friends and neighbours. Once those suggestions have been incorporated, I get the first proof of the book which I pass on to reviewers, librarians and teachers. Then the final copy is done, I ask fellow authors to post review of the books on Amazon.com and on my website. So, it is a long process but it is totally worth it.
You are one of a growing number of self-published children's writers/illustrators. Why did you decide to take this route? Is it difficult?
I did a lot of research prior to deciding to self-publish my book. The thing that attracted me to self-publishing is that you can have the freedom of when to make your work available to the market. For instance, I published Jazzy's Lovely Christmas just prior to Christmas. I also like that the books can be printed on demand, so inventory is not an issue. Finally, I also like that the author has more control over the entire publishing process.
Self-publishing is difficult. I am not very computer savvy. So, my husband had to teach me the programs for illustration and layout. Also, he was kind enough to help me design and set up the website.
How do you create your illustrations?
First, I sketch the illustrations on paper. I then scan them and perform touch ups in Adobe Illustrator. Finally, I add colour to the sketches using Adobe Photoshop.
What is the hardest thing for you to draw?
The hardest thing for me is people. But I think I am slowly getting better at it.
Do you ever work with other authors or do you prefer to only illustrate your own work?
As of yet, I have not worked with any other authors, but I am certainly open to the idea.
Describe your workspace and how you work.
My workspace is the kitchen table. I usually get all my work done once the kids go to bed.
Do you have a website where we cn see some of your work?
All my books are posted on my site both as slide shows and as PDF files. The site is http://www.jazzyseries.com
How do you set about promoting and selling your books?
I do a lot of networking online. Some of the sites that I have found useful are the children's writers' group on Yahoo and Jacketflap.
What are you working on now?
I am currently workingon three short stories (not Jazzy related) and the fourth book in the Jazzy series which will hopefully be ready in time for Father's Day.