How do you get the ideas for your books?
When I finish a book, I usually don't know what I am going to work on next, but I do know that I have lots of different ways of getting ideas. Perhaps there is something in the book I have just finished that I want to keep working on (for example, Night City led to Squeaking of Art). Sometimes I do a book about a subject I know alot about (Mr. Cookie Baker). Other times I do a book about a subject I want to learn more about (Firefighter Frank). I constantly jot down words and thoughts, and collect photos and pictures. I have a big box where I put my 'seeds of ideas". I rustle around in it when I am thinking about my next book.
Which comes first, the pictures or the words?
I usually start a book visually, with an idea of pictures I want to paint. I usually start making sketches before I even write any words at all. Both the pictures and words go through many revisions, and I am often still working on the final words after I finish the pictures.
How long does it take you to make a book?
It is different for every book. The longest was two years and the shortest was six weeks. From start to finish, it takes me, on average, about a year to make a book that I both write and illustrate.
Do you use a computer when you make your pictures?
I don't do artwork on a computer. I make my pictures on paper with paints and brushes. I often use gouache, a kind of paint that is sort of a grown-up version of poster paint. Sometimes I do collage, with cut-outs of different papers that I paint or collect, using sissors and glue.
Where do you live, and where do you work?
I live in New York City, in an apartment. My studio space is in my apartment. I love being able to work right at home.
Do you have children?
I have a daughter and you can see her in many of my books: she is the sunny little girl with blond hair. In Crêpes by Suzette I made the collage illustrations from photographs from our various trips to Paris: you can spot her somewhere in every picture! She is grown up now and is a ballet dancer with New York City Ballet.
Do you have pets?
I have two cats named Lola and Zoe. I adopted them from animal rescue organizations. I always had cats when I was growing up and then for a very long time I had two calico cats named Chelsea and Pimlico. Cats are in most of my books!
What are your hobbies?
I love going to dance performances, museums and movies. I love reading. I love everything French and I travel often, especially to England and France. I love to bake desserts and eat chocolate!