By Lisa Amstutz
This week, we are excited to welcome author/illustrator Susan Kralovansky to the Six Pens blog.
Susie, please tell us a little about yourself!
I am a former librarian who began writing picture books for my students. They had a terrible time understanding the difference between a dictionary and a thesaurus. The first book was What Would You Do with a Thesaurus? By the time I had written them a book about encyclopedias, I decided to submit my idea to a publisher. That submission ended up being a six-book series for ABDO Publishing.
I write both fiction and non-fiction picture books. In February 2021, I have two books being released. My first, WE REALLY, REALLY WANT A DOG, is a story about animal adoption. And THE BOOK THAT JAKE BORROWED, which was first released in 2108, will now be released in a bilingual edition: EL LIBRO QUE JAKE TOMO PRESTADO.
I love talking to kids at school visits and hanging out in libraries and bookstores. When I’m at home, you can find me discussing a new book idea with my two writing partners.
What are some of your recent/upcoming books and what inspired you to write them?
My most recent book was inspired by a fire ant bite. I’m originally from Indiana, where ants are harmless. They march along in single file, and if disturbed, they simply get back in line. Then I moved to Texas. While planting flowers, I accidentally jabbed my trowel into a fire ant hill. No problem, right? Wrong! Tiny red ants swarmed up my arms and legs and began to sting. Ouch! I quickly discovered that fire ants are fierce! Those fiery ants gave me the idea for HOW FIRE ANTS GOT THEIR FIRE: A TEXAS TALE.
Do you always illustrate your own books? How did you get started doing that?
When writing my second picture book, TWELVE COWBOYS ROPIN’, I knew I wanted it to be both a counting book and a book about Texas symbols. Rather than trying to describe how I thought that might work, I sent the editor a couple of pieces of collage art to demonstrate the concept.
When my editor offered a contract, she asked if I would like to illustrate the book. In my head, I screamed, “WOULD I?!?!? YOU BET!!!!!” But, ever the professional, my answer to her was, “I would love to!” Luckily, I have been able to illustrate my next four books with Pelican Publishing.
What type of media do you use in your work?
Normally, most of my illustrations are fiber art collage. But, due to Covid-19, and the fabric stores being closed, WE REALLY, REALLY WANT A DOG has a lot of watercolor.
What tips do you have for aspiring author/illustrators?
My best advice is to believe in your project and persevere. I knew librarians needed THE BOOK THAT JAKE BORROWED, and I was right. That book just sold out for the fourth time!
What kind of books do you like to read?
I love to read every type of picture book. Tuesdays are library day. Every Tuesday I have to force myself to give back the books I’ve checked out and then bring home a whole new stack to enjoy.
What work do you wish you had written/illustrated? Why?
Just about everything I check out on Tuesdays!
Short and Sweet:
Pantser or Plotter? Pantser
Guilty Food Pleasure? Lily’s Salted Almond Chocolate Bar
Favorite Hobby? Reading
Dog or Cat person? Don’t tell the cat, but the dog is my baby.
Who would you like to have dinner with (living or dead)? My father
Do you do your best work in the morning, afternoon, or evening? Evening – after everyone is in bed.
Susan lives just north of Austin in Georgetown, Texas. Visit her online at www.susankralovansky.com.