• This is your first children’s book?
Yes! And it is such a thrill to see it in print! I have been interested in writing for children for a couple of decades and I have a file drawer full of manuscripts (and rejection letters ) to prove it. I joined the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) in 2004 and in 2007 I submitted Belle for a manuscript review at my regional conference. The author who reviewed the book was so enthusiastic; she kept me from getting discouraged in my hunt to find the right publisher. The Editor-in-Chief at the National Gallery also loved the book when I showed it to her, but sadly, we don’t have a children’s book publishing program at the National Gallery. Ultimately, though, it was she who put me in touch with Bunker Hill Publishing.
• What or who inspired you to write Belle?
The short answer is – my daughter! I used to bring her down to the National Gallery for the wonderful family programs offered by our education department, but I also wanted her to enjoy a simple walk through the galleries with me. I searched for a book based on the Gallery’s collection with the thought it would help spark her interest in doing that, but I quickly discovered the kind of book I had in mind didn’t exist! I wanted a fun-to-read, fictional story that featured a variety of paintings from the National Gallery’s great collection and focused on the magic of the museum and the ‘art experience.’ So when I couldn’t find that book, I decided I’d better write it!
• You obviously are someone who loves art. Can you tell us how you chose your paintings for Belle?
• Is there something else you are currently working on?
I would love to make Belle into a series, so I am currently working on a manuscript that takes her on a journey to another museum. Art travels all the time for touring exhibitions – the perfect set up for another adventure!
I am also working on a manuscript that features the art of the National Gallery’s wonderful outdoor sculpture garden. This book would have completely different characters, and I am envisioning it for a younger audience (ages 4 to 8 years).