Happy Thursday Critters! Can you believe it’s already the end of the year?! This year has flown by. We have just a couple interviews left in 2018 before we make the leap into the new year. One of the wonderful experiences I had this year was traveling to Bowling Green State University here in Ohio to speak with teaching students about writing and illustrating books. During my visit I had the opportunity to meet our guest on Critter Lit today, Lindsay Moore.
It’s rare in this business to get face time, so anytime I can connect with a fellow author or illustrator in person, it’s always lovely. And Lindsay is no exception. Her debut picture book, SEA BEAR: A JOURNEY FOR SURVIVAL will be released January 22, 2019 and has received a starred review from both Kirkus and School and Library Journal, with many other rave reviews. A lovely and lyrical text set against stunning watercolors and delicate line work, you won’t want to miss this book. I’m thrilled to be sharing her story and work with you today!
So without further ado, please welcome Lindsay Moore!
Where do you live?
I live in Bowling Green, Ohio. It is a small town south of Toledo, surrounded by corn, with a state university and railroad tracks running through it. I am new to town, but my family and I like it here.
When did you know you wanted to write/illustrate picture books?
This question has 2 answers. When I was in third grade my teacher, Mrs. McDonald pulled me aside and told me that I was good at writing and I could grow up to be a writer someday. It was the first time I thought of authors as actual people and I believed her.
Around the age of 13 I was reading lots of books by Madeline L'Engle. She had become my favorite author and I came across a her biography at our school library. I read about the challenge she had finding a home for A Wrinkle in Time and the amount of rejection she had to push through in order to publish it. I came to the conclusion that if Madeline L'Engle had that much trouble, then there was no hope for me. Madeline L'Engle was special and I was completely aware of how absolutely ordinary and un-special I was. So, I put any real dreams of being published aside, but continued to enjoy writing for school and for whoever would read it.
It wasn't until I was five or so years out of grad school, living in Ann Arbor, when I went to a Caldecott panel with Brian Floca, Chris Raschka, Erin Stead and Phil Stead, that I really thought seriously again about publishing. I scribbled this quote into my notebook from Erin Stead about working on books:
"Constant state of anxiety with deep shades of regret."
It spoke to me because that summed up a good deal of my experience in the creative process. I didn't know you could be apprehensive and make books.
I read two really good books after that panel at the Kerrytown Bookfest: Writing With Pictures by Uri Shulevitz and Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom by Leonard Marcus. They kind of confirmed that...I'm struggling on how to say this...making picture books made sense to me in a way that fine art didn't. I needed a story. I wanted there to be words. It was the way my brain/heart/hands worked. I felt like I found the perfect form of art.
Tell us about your road to publication, what did that involve for you?
It will have been about 4 years from the time I seriously decided to write to SEA BEAR coming out in January 2019. I think it is important to say that it wasn't clear from the get go that I would ever be published. I didn't believe in myself or even tell many people that I was writing.
Ann Arbor is a great place for writers though. That is where I started. They have this wonderful program through the Ann Arbor District Library called The Emerging Writers Workshop. They meet twice a month and I met a few aspiring children book writers there. We formed a critique group and met every two weeks to work on our manuscripts. I owe all three of them so much because they patiently and attentively listened to draft after draft of the same story.
SEA BEAR was my first manuscript and I worked on it for about a year, but I was told that maybe it was a bit too serious for children. I put it aside to write manuscripts that were more "fun". I wrote this really quirky one about a traveling lobster, but everyone my agent submitted it to said it was too off beat for them to follow. Probably the hardest critique I got was unsolicited from another agent that said my artwork looked dated. Her opinion came out of nowhere and it kind of stopped me in my tracks. Like, maybe I should just give up. I was looking up jobs online, thinking maybe I should find a job in the field of medical illustration. That is in fact what my degree is in.
Around the same time I (somewhat reluctantly) shared my work with another author, Phil Stead. He encouraged me to submit SEA BEAR and challenged me to experiment with new mediums in my illustrations. So, I finally got a dummy together, but my agent still had to call me for a pep talk because I was so deep in self doubt that I needed someone else to say it's time to submit. I went into the submission of SEA BEAR telling my husband to get ready for a suite of rejection and that it would probably lead to me crying in the shower like Tobias Fünke. Thankfully, that didn't happen. SEA BEAR found the perfect home at Greenwillow Books.
Can you share a bit about your process?
Sure! So, I'm really slow at the beginning. I research a lot. Even though SEA BEAR is fiction, it is based-off radio collar data that tracked the long swims polar bears make in the Arctic. I read a lot of journal articles and books. The library was an indispensable resource. Honestly, I get a little giddy when I find out that I have interlibrary loan holds ready for pick up. Then I read and think. Like...I sit in silence and stare at walls and ceilings and light fixtures and focus.
My favorite part is storyboarding. I feel like if there was a job, just making story boards, I would be the happiest person.
My illustrations are done with watercolor and two different kinds of drawing ink. The inks have slightly different properties and so they interact differently with the watercolor. I also use conte crayon and colored pencil. My goal with SEA BEAR was to say, "I think the Arctic is a wonderful, mysterious, large, beautiful space, worthy of our awe and conservation."
What do you do to shake the rust off or get new ideas?
Walking in the woods clears my mind. I also just try to keep my eyes and ears open to the world, because it's really full of small stories that are just waiting to be noticed. That all being said, I am currently suffering from a bit of writer's block. So….
Anything you can’t live without while you write/draw?
I really like silence and time. Also, I like to read the Psalms.
Any authors and/or illustrators who inspire you?
Absolutely. There are so, so many. So many, Lindsay.
I'm going to name two, because otherwise there would be too many and I wouldn't want to leave anyone out.
1. Lynne Rae Perkins - When I read her books, I can feel my heart. She draws out very real childhood feelings and places them honestly on the page and its like she just explained to me something that I had been confused about since I was a kid. I really love The Broken Cat and the artwork in Snow Music makes me pause every time I read it.
2. Erin Stead- Erin is just brilliant. The illustrations in The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine made me weep because she handles her figures (both animal and human) with such care that you can feel their sorrow.
Dream project to work on?
That is a good question. It would probably have to do with the water, but I'm really not sure.
Tell us about your debut book.
SEA BEAR is a 48 page picture book about a long distance swim a polar bear makes from the pack ice to dry land. It's based on field research in the arctic. It focuses on the relationship between polar bears and their sea ice habitat.
What’s up next for you?
I'm working on a second book with Greenwillow. It's in really early stages though...research phase, so I won't say too much, other than I need to go for a walk in the woods.
And last, but not least, favorite 80s movie?
Oh, I'm not much of a movie person, but "When Cameron was in Egypt's land......"
Thank you so much for stopping by Critter Lit today Lindsay! We are so excited to see SEA BEAR out in the world!
Lindsay Moore is an artist and writer with roots in Northern Michigan. She studied Marine Biology and Fine Art at Southampton College on Long Island and figure drawing at the Art Students League in New York City. Lindsay earned her Master of Science in Medical and Scientific Illustration from Medical College of Georgia (now Georgia Regents University) and has received recognition for her work from both the Association of Medical Illustrators and the Australian Institute of Medical and Biological Illustration. After 5 years spent primarily in Queensland and Ontario, then some time Ann Arbor, Lindsay now lives Bowling Green, Ohio with her family.
FOR MORE INFORMATION about Lindsay and her work visit her website: www.lindsaykmoore.com or follow her on Twitter @YesPlankton.
TO ORDER Lindsay’s debut book, ring up your local bookstore, or click here.
Want a chance to win a copy of SEA BEAR: A JOURNEY OF SURVIVAL?! Comment on this post or share it on Twitter. One lucky winner will be selected Thursday, December 27th! US addresses only please.
What's up on deck? Tune in next week for a Critter Lit Interview with debut author Monique Fields!