Saturday, May 16, 2009

Elizabeth Dulemba Stops By to Chat!

Today's Children's Book Week Celebration post is a chat with illustrator, now author, Elizabeth Dulemba. You can read more about Elizabeth and her books at her website and blog.

Hi Shelly, Thanks for inviting me to "Write for a Reader"! I'm an award-winning children's book illustrator and now author. I've been creating picture books for eight years and was a graphic designer/in-house illustrator, mostly for child-related businesses, for fifteen years before that. I have two dogs (one of them, Bernie, is in all my books), a cat, and a wonderful husband.

Write For A Reader (WFAR):  What was the first book you illustrated?

Elizabeth Dulemba (ED):  My first illustrated picture book was The Prince's Diary, written by Renee Ting (Shen's Books). It's a Cinderella story from the Prince's point of view and was named No.1 2006 Valentines Day Pick by Book Sense (now Indiebound)!

WFAR:  What made you move from just illustrating, to doing both writing and illustrating in your new book?

ED:  I've always loved to write, but the art ability showed up first, so that's where most of the focus in my life went. It's been my life-long goal to do both, but it's taken years of practice to get my writing skills up to snuff. Meanwhile, I have dozens of dummies in my drawers which the public will never see.

WFAR:  Do you have illustrating/writing mentors or favorites? If so, who are they?

ED:  So many! Maurice Sendak of course. Paul O. Zelinsky, Chris Van Allsburg - those were my first heroes in the business. But I've become a huge fan of too many others to name since then!

WFAR:  Can you give us a little of the back story behind your new book? How did this book come to be?

ED:  Paco and the Giant Chile Plant ~ Paco y la planta de chile gigante (a bilingual adaptation of "Jack and the Beanstalk" written by Keith Polette) was the first book I illustrated for Raven Tree Press. They liked it so much, they wanted me to do something else for them, preferably another Jack Tale (which I adore). So when I presented them with Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón!, they flipped over it and snatched it right up - yeah!

WFAR:  What’s next for you as an illustrator/author? Do you have anything in the works?

ED:  I always have lots going on! I'm about to start illustrating The12 Days of Christmas in Georgia (written by my friend Susan Rosson Spain) for Sterling and am doing some illustration work for Highlights Magazine. I also just sent a new picture book to my agent. She loves it, so that will go out soon. I'm also writing a YA novel that I'm having a great time with.

WFAR:  What is your favorite piece or book that you have illustrated?

ED:  PACO is the winner so far, but I can't wait for SOAP to hit the world!

WFAR:  What do you like to do when you are not illustrating or writing?

ED:  Truly, illustrating and drawing are the things I love to do more than anything. But I also love chilling out with my husband, gardening, walking my dog, and driving around with the top down.

WFAR:  Describe your illustrating/writing atmosphere…where do you work, when, snacks, drinks, music while working, etc?

ED:  I redid my office last year and still love it (you can see it at I make a pot of hot  tea in the morning and drink it all day. I mostly listen to an NPR station out of Chattanooga - 88.1. Or if I'm illustrating I'll watch shows on hulu, listen to audiobooks, anything that let's my hand just do what it needs to do without my brain getting in the way. If I'm writing, it has to be dead quite - it's so loud inside my head, extra noise is distracting!

WFAR:  What are some of your favorites? Author, food, color, book, any others…

ED:  Author: Too many to name - but mostly YA. Food: I am a sucker for melty cheese and good breads. Color: I'm loving chartreuse of late - totally excites me. And favorite book? Wow, again, too many to name. Although I think the praise for The Hunger Games and The Graveyard Book is well-deserved. Loved them both.

WFAR:  What is a typical day like in the life of a children’s book illustrator/author?

ED:  Well, since I do both, I have two Muses fighting for my time which keeps me pretty darned busy. I'm usually in my office by 7:30 and work until 6 (or later if I have a deadline) at least six days a week. It
depends on which one is screaming the loudest or if a deadline is looming as to what I end up working on for any given day. Somewhere in there I walk my dog and grab a shower. The walks are something I've
recently made a requirement to stay healthy - otherwise I will work from sunup to sundown. Lunch out with friends is also important. I usually try to do that at least once a week. One day a weekend is when  hubbie and I go play. (He's a long-distance motorcyclist, so he's usually gone one day a weekend.) Otherwise, I'm working, but don't feel bad for me. It's what I love to do most.

WFAR:  I follow your Tuesday Coloring Page feature. Can you tell readers about it, how they can find it, etc?

ED:  Sure! It's at or  I wanted to create something that would draw attention to my books, bring people back to my site on a
regular basis, and give me regular content. So about two years ago, I started offering a new coloring page on my blog, free for download, every Tuesday. The collection quickly grew (over 100 now) and became an enormous hit! Recently, I added a subscription form so people could receive weekly alerts and the response has been outstanding! I'm thrilled to be able to share them and even more thrilled that people are enjoying them!

WFAR:  Is there anything else you would like the readers to know?

ED:  As you brought up, my first picture book as both author and illustrator will come out this Fall. It's a bilingual adaption of a classic Appalachian tale: Soap, soap, soap ~ Jabón, jabón, jabón!  I hope you'll
look for it!

Elizabeth, thanks so much for stopping by and chatting today!

Thanks so much for having me on today!

Do you have a question for Elizabeth?  I'm sure she'd love to hear from you!  Leave your thoughts/questions in the comments and I will be sure she gets them .


bermudaonion said...

Her illustrations are beautiful!

KR said...

Thanks for sharing. as a kindergarten teacher, I'll use her site often!


kathleen duey said...

I love Elizabeth's artwork...!! I never thought about having two muses and can only be amazed at how she handles them.

Staci said...

I love getting to meet an illustrator and now author!! Love her work!!

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