Elizabeth Rose Stanton began her picture book writing and illustrating adventure after a brief career as an architect and long career as a parent and fine artist. Her debut picture book, HENNY (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), was released in 2014. Her next book, PEDDLES (Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), about a little pig with some big ideas, is due out in this coming January. Elizabeth is represented by Joanna Volpe of New Leaf Literary & Media in New York, and is a member of SCBWI International, and SCBWI Western Washington, and the Pacific Northwest Writers’ Association.
For what age audience do you write?
So far, I write and illustrate picture books for the three-to-eight year old crowd.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is PEDDLES. PEDDLES is a companion book to my first book, HENNY, which is about a little chicken with the (mis)fortune to have been born with arms instead of wings. Peddles, however, has all the usual pig parts, plus some big ideas.
Henry: All the usual pig parts, including bacon?
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
PEDDLES is all about the creative spirit and determination. I hope young readers will take away that it’s OK to try and fail, but it’s just as important to support and be supported and, ultimately, to give back. But really, it’s just a story about a pig.
Henry: “All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.”
What aspect of writing or illustrating do you find most challenging?
I am an expert procrastinator when it comes to the writing part. I have to force myself into the chair when I’m working on the story, but once the manuscript is finished, I don’t seem to have any problem staying put until the illustrations are done.
Henry: The write-first approach makes perfect sense to me, but I also know some author illustrators who are more comfortable illustrating first. You artistic types!
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer/illustrator?
That when we all do well, we all do well. This is a competitive business, but I’ve learned that being supportive is one of the best things anyone can do to move the whole creative process forward, and that there’s room for everyone.
Henry: Agreed. I have to say that SCBWI and the KidLit author community on Facebook are extremely supportive and collaborative. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer/illustrator?
Having close to one hundred people turn out for my book launch for HENNY. Blew me away! Who knew a chicken with arms could be such an attraction?
Henry: Well, one typically only sees chickens with arms near nuclear power plants, hence the attraction.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Keep aspiring. Put it out there no matter how old you are or whether you think you can do it or not. See where it leads. You have nothing to lose, and something extraordinary might happen. It certainly did for me.
Henry: Perseverance and a thick skin.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
“You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” –Eleanor Roosevelt
“It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” –George Eliot
“Cats and monkeys; monkeys and cats; all human life is there.” –Henry James
Henry: “Cats and dogs living together. Real wrath of God type stuff.” – Ghostbusters
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you work?
I usually require some combination tea, cats, and quiet. My cats are kind of strange, so I suppose that counts.
Henry: Including an adorable Scottish Fold named Bea. She deserves her own book.
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
I would have speed-reading superpowers, because you know the saying about so many books and so little time. . .
Henry: Read faster, but not write/draw faster?
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Beatrix Potter because she and her art prevailed in spite of it all; Dorothy Kunhardt because she could write about about everything from Abraham Lincoln to Junket to patting bunnies; and Ruth Plumly Thompson because she picked up the Oz baton and ran with it. Incidentally, I’d prefer them to show up alive– although having ghosts over for dinner might be kind of fun.
Henry: You gotta’ love someone with the middle name Plumly. Wikipedia helpfully offers:
Beatrix Potter – an English author, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books featuring animals such as those in THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT, which celebrated the British landscape and country life. She left almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.
Dorothy Kunhardt – wrote nearly 50 books, including one of the bestselling children’s books of all time, PAT THE BUNNY, which has sold over six million copies. She had initially written it for her youngest child Edith, who has followed her mother’s footsteps and is a popular children’s author. Other works include the well-known TWENTY DAYS, an account of Lincoln’s assassination and the twenty days that followed.
Ruth Plumly Thompson – began her writing career in 1914, when she took a job with the Philadelphia Public Ledger; she wrote a weekly children’s column for the newspaper. She had already published her first children’s book, THE PERHAPPSY CHAPS, and her second, THE PRINCESS OF COZYTOWN, was pending publication when William Lee, vice president of Baum’s publisher Reilly & Lee, solicited Thompson to continue the Oz series. Between 1921 and 1939, she wrote one Oz book a year.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
The Gump—an amalgamation of a goat-whiskered moose head, a couple of couches, palm fronds, and a little magic dust– from the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. I want a ride!
Henry: Well, that is as bizarre a choice as they come. I’m more of a traditionalist. Give me a dragon or a griffin.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing or illustrating?
Reading, sketching, thinking and, quite often, nothing.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
“All’s well that ends well.”
Where can readers find your work?
penspaperstudio.com Thank you, Henry!
My pleasure. This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner