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A Woik of Art (Part Two)

In this week’s blog we continue our interview with best-selling children’s book author Julie Woik. Julie’s series The Life and Times of Lilly the Lash encourages children to do the right thing. In last week’s blog Julie chatted about her inspiration for the series. This week she speaks about the technical aspects of creating something beautiful that resonates with kids and adults.

You have now written five incredible modern-day allegories about doing the right thing. Why do you think children, their parents, and grandparents connect with Lilly so much?

Lilly the Lash has a special job. She’s only seen by the reader in the story. She must watch from a distance to recognize the problem at hand. From there, she writes a plan to send someone into the life of the character in need of learning the lesson. I think this fairy is loved for a variety of reasons. She’s not pink and frilly, so she appeals to all genders. She isn’t “in your face” with the lesson. She’s simply watching and assessing, not judging. And one thing that parents and grandparents really love; she doesn’t “fix” the problem magically. The characters have to learn the lesson themselves, which is, of course, just the way life works!

Lilly’s message is so powerful, and the graphics are beautiful. How did you know you’d found the right illustrator in Marc Tobin?

When I started looking for an illustrator, I quickly discovered that it isn’t that easy to find the right fit. It’s really important to mesh with the person who’s going visually bring to life something you’ve concocted in your brain! You need to be able to relay what you want and how you want it. I knew right away Marc was the right fit. When I contacted designers to discuss the creation of this project, everyone emailed back, except for Marc. He called me. We were instantly connected through conversation and laughter. It just felt right from the very get go. These days he’s not only my illustrator, he’s become a dear friend.

How did you work with him to bring Lilly and her friends to life?

Marc Tobin is absolutely the illustrator, but I’m very much the art director. Don’t get me wrong, if Marc doesn’t feel the direction I want to go is a good idea…he’ll tell me straight (in a nice way). This is very important. His thoughts on the idea itself, as well as whether it will come across in the way I’m wanting it to need to be discussed, because he may know something isn’t going to fly the way I see it in my head. But I’m the final decision maker. Of course, listening to your illustrator matters. They want to be proud of their creation too! We’ve pretty much got it down pat now. We’ve learned a lot about one another over the 11 years we’ve been working together. I think there are times when I push Marc to create something he wasn’t really sure he could do. But after I saw his first illustration, I was convinced this guy had no limitations! I often refer to him as MAESTRO. Although he always laughs, I think he gets a kick out of it.

If you had one piece of advice for someone thinking of writing children’s literature, what would it be?

If you like to write, write. You may not become the next J K Rowling, but you could end up making an awesome memory for your grandchildren. If you really want to write a book (self-publish) and get it out there in a huge way, it’s imperative that you educate yourself regarding all aspects that surround its creation. Writing it is just the first step! You must then learn about MARKETING MARKETING MARKETING!!!!!! If the thought of marketing your book makes your eyes glaze over you’re probably better off finding an independent small publisher. There are these types of businesses in most communities. If you want to write a book and submit it to a large publishing house, contact an agent and get started. Finding an agent who will take you will take time, but nothing ventured, nothing gained. So......what are you waiting for?!?!?!

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