Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Q&A with Sue Rama, illustrator of "Daddy Adventure Day"

It was such a thrill to finally have the book launch party for my picture book "Daddy Adventure Day" last Friday. It's been a long time since I wrote the story, so to see it brought to life by illustrator Sue Rama has been extra rewarding. It's quite difficult to describe the experience of seeing your story actually illustrated for the first time. It's truly a thrill.

Most people assume the writer and illustrator collaborate throughout the process, but that isn't how it works. Typically, the book arrives at the writer's doorstep fully illustrated, so opening that envelope is one of the most exciting parts of being an illustrator. I was lucky to have someone as talented and as insightful as Sue Rama to find the sweetness and humor in my little story. Here's an interview with Sue about the book and her life and career as an illustrator.

1.) How many books have you illustrated? How long have you been illustrating children’s books?
I've been illustrating children's books for five years, and I have illustrated 16 books.

2.) Have you always been a good artist? For example, were you the best drawer in your first grade class?
Yes, I was always drawing. My older sister and I used to write and illustrate stories on our long bus ride to school when I was in kindergarten and first grade. My mom sent me for piano lessons, but after a few months my piano teacher showed my mom my piano books covered in drawings and gently suggested that perhaps art lessons might be a better idea! I think it is REALLY important that everybody pay attention to the special gifts that children have and nurture them.

3.) What can you draw best? People? Animals? Cars? Monsters?
People, definitely. I'm not real fond of straight lines. I used to draw
storyboards for commercials, and I was told that my soft-sided cars
looked like there were blown up, like balloons.

4.) What is the hardest thing for you to draw?
A proper ellipse, like the opening of a jar or a coffee cup. They should
always be more narrow then I think they should be.

5.) As an illustrator, what did you like best about the story in “Daddy Adventure Day?”
The understated humor in the dialogue, absolutely.

6.) What was your biggest challenge in illustrating this book?
Casting… that is, figuring out what the characters should look like. I
got so frustrated trying to cast the dad that I finally prayed to be
shown. Seriously! The next day I came across a photo of some sweet guys
I know from Brooklyn and I thought, eureka! That's it. Kinda big, but
sweet and easygoing! In the end I combined those Brooklyn guys with a
bit of my Uncle Donnie from Queens.

7.) If you had to pick just one, which illustration is your favorite?
Probably the kitchen scene, where the boy is giggling because he hid
Dad's paper. I like the contrast between him and his grumpy dad.

8.) Did you ever go on a Daddy Adventure Day with your dad?
I don't remember one. But I do remember being really mad when my dad
took my older sister—who was seven—to Ebbets Field for a Brooklyn
Dodger's game, and left me home because he thought I was too young. I
think that might have been the angriest day I had as a kid.

9.) Where do you live?
I'm in the middle of moving from Connecticut to Hampton Beach, New
Hampshire. I'm looking forward to living by the ocean.

10.) Which sport is your favorite to watch? Which sport is your favorite to play?
I like to watch soccer and baseball. My favorite sport to play is racing
sailboats, but I haven't done that in quite a while.

If you'd like to see more of Sue's work, visit her newly redesigned website.
To order your copy of "Daddy Adventure Day," visit the book's Amazon page.