I met Roxie Munro on Facebook in one of the fun writer's groups I belong to. I checked out her books and then of course asked her for an interview. Luckily for me, she said yes!
Roxie is a busy writer and artist. And she's even got an app out, which was chosen for one of School Library's Journal's top ten apps of 2013. Way to go Roxie!
Roxie's got more than 35 books under her belt and that amazing list is growing every year. And in her spare time…ah-hum- she creates pieces of artwork in various medium which are displayed in museums and galleries across the US.
Yes, Roxie is a creative rock star. Below are the questions I asked her. I hope her answers will help you along your way to reaching your artistic goals.
Dream Big! Roxie does and the world benefits from it.
You have more than 35 books for children under your belt. Where do your ideas come from?
A week later, I woke up at 7AM and before my eyes opened, I saw in red letters the words: “The Inside-Outside Book of New York City.” I called her, and said, “I have a weird title for a book.” It won the New York Times Best Illustrated Award and was a TIME magazine Best Children’s Book. Eventually, did a series of seven Inside-Outside books.
One day years later, on a school visit, a 4th grade boy asked me about the Flatiron building in that book. I started to talk about the full-page image. “No,” he said, “I mean the other Flatiron Building.” I realized he meant the tiny one in the gutter of the title pages – the whole southern half of Manhattan is depicted. I have never forgotten that – how children see the details. I mentioned his comment to the librarian, and she said, given my love of detail and pattern, I should do a Where’s Waldo. But, I didn’t have an idea…
A few years ago I started thinking about how a book based upon a maze could work. Didn’t want it to be schematic or cartoon-like, but more real, illustrative – each detail different, not a formula. Have now had five real life maze books published. Besides solving the maze, there are other game elements – counting, naming, finding, ABCs, hidden objects.
Then, I had an idea called Doors, developing out of the Inside-Outside books. One day, my editor suggested something more interactive. I created a tiny 2”x3” dummy - a lift-the-flap idea. After that, I published three more paper-engineered books.
So, creation develops in a sort of logical way out of previous work; none of these would come into being without the earlier books.
The aha!, the idea, is almost an end, as well as a beginning.
Explain your art work or voice in 5 words:
Nonfiction, conceptual, interactive…
How long does it take you to write and/or illustrate a book?
Between six months and a year.
What time do you get up and what do you eat for breakfast?
Up around 6:30-7AM. No breakfast; early lunch around 11AM.
Who are you reading right now?
Some Scandinavian mysteries.
What is the funniest/cutest thing a child has asked you about your books?
On a school visit once, after the program, we had a Q&A. Later, as I was packing up my materials (which included big spreads of the original art), a teacher came up with a 3rd grade girl, and said, “Ellen had a question – you didn’t call on her.” “Oh,” I said, “What is your question?” She asked, “How do you make them so pretty?” I almost teared up, and kept her question on a post-it in my studio for years.
I have never forgotten that girl. Children appreciate beauty.
When you heard you won the New York Times best Illustrated Award, what did you do first?
Cried, called my then-boyfriend (now husband). We had a glass of wine, and he proposed that evening!
Who in your past helped you to be come the writer and illustrator you are today?
My first editor, Donna Brooks.
What are you working on now?
MarketMaze, for Holiday House (Spring 2015), about where food comes from and how it gets to a town’s greenmarket.
Where is the best place to get a cup of joe or tea in your town?
The rather basic Silver Deli downstairs from my studio.
Give us one word that best describes you.
What’s easier to paint or create…illustrations for children or cityscapes for adults?
Children’s book illustrations.
How has Long Island influenced your writing and art?
I live in midtown Manhattan; it’s great to come across (or under, via subway) the East River to this open industrial area where my studio is. More peaceful.
What 3 bullet points of advice would you give a newbie writer/illustrator?
Hone your crafts: perfect your drawing skills; write, rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
You’ve been drawing since you were six. Why do you think you were drawn to this type of creativity?
My parents took us to museums, gave us books to read as babies, encouraged us to draw, make our own toys, clothes, build stuff. My older sister is also a professional artist.
More art classes. Recess. Not as much testing and programmed time.
Why is creativity important for kids?
Where will our society be if we don’t have creative people?
Who is your biggest cheerleader?
My Swedish husband, writer/photographer Bo Zaunders.
How can my blog readers help you to become an even bigger success?
Check out my interactive apps (Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure; Roxie’s Doors; Roxie’s Puzzle Adventure).
Any big news?
Have a cool project (which I’ve been working on for 20 years!) coming out this summer called KIWiStoryBooks (kids interactive walk-in story books).
Giant (5ft high by 13 ft long) “backdrops,” printed front and back involving various themes (dinosaurs, oceanographic research ship/coral reef; rainforest/desert; space station inside and out; medieval castle, more).
Curriculum materials and free interactive apps come with each theme.