Friday, June 30, 2017

Interview with Children's Picture Book Author Miri Leshem-Pelly

Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).

Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.

Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.

Her latest book is Scribble & Author.



About the Book:

Scribble & Author is written as a dialogue between the main character, Scribble, and the author who created her. 
Scribble's journey starts on a peaceful shore called THE BEGINNING, continues to the rough, adventurous MIDDLE, and leads finally to the gate of THE ENDING, but it’s not at all what Scribble expected… Scribble is a scribble and Author is an author, but who really gets to tell the tale?
A picture book about finding your own voice, making your own decisions, and writing your own story.
Watch the book trailer at Vimeo.


As a book bloggin’ and book luvin’ Princess, I’m always curious to find out how authors got the ideas for their books.  How did you come up with the idea for your book?

The idea for the book Scribble & Author came when I was thinking about the interesting conflict between authors and their characters. On one hand, we love our characters with all our hearts. On the other hand - we make them suffer… We make our characters face problems and challenges, then make the situation even worse for the poor protagonists. We, authors, have to do it, because that’s what makes the story interesting. So I imagined a situation where an author and his character meet and interact. How would the character react when the author puts him/her into trouble? How would the author react when his character doesn’t want to follow the story line? This thought led me to begin writing the story of Scribble & Author.

Can you tell us what your book is about?

Scribble & Author is the story of a character who is a little scribble on the page. The author is also a character in this story. He creates the land of story for Scribble to explore and talks with Scribble as he is creating the story. Scribble walks on the path of story and enters the gates of Beginning, Middle and End. Scribble wants, more than anything, to find a friend. On her journey, Scribble walks through some challenging places such as The River of Questions and the Mountain of Challenge, but she must finds creative solutions to overcome the obstacles if she wants to find her promised friend. Would she find him?

Can you tell us a little about the main characters of your book?

Scribble, the main character, is just that - a scribble. The book starts with a description of how Scribble is created:
“A color spot,
some pencil lines,
and here you are…

Scribble is a child-like character, curious to discover the world. She is very creative and imaginative, and her solutions for problems and obstacles on her way are very surprising. Her biggest wish is to find a friend, and for that she is willing to go through challenges and overcome fears. She doesn’t always follow the rules of the story, and that’s one of the most interesting parts of this book - who really gets to tell the tale, the author or the character?

The second character in the book is Author, which is the author-illustrator who creates the story of Scribble. We do not see him in the illustrations, only “hear” his voice as he is talking with his character, Scribble. He is encouraging and supportive of Scribble, and doesn’t solve the problems for her. In the illustrations we see his tools: the pencil, the brush, the eraser etc. Scribble uses these tools, sometimes in an unexpected way.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would that be?

I would tell my younger writing self to learn the craft of writing a story. When I started writing, I didn’t learn how to write. Now, after attending several writing courses and conferences, I know how much it helps to know the structure and elements of stories. I wish I did this learning when I started writing.

What would you say is one of your interesting writing quirks?

I’m not sure if that counts for a writing quirk, but I do a lot of day dreaming and careful observations of the littlest details around me, and I think that these things effect my writing a lot, even though they happen outside of the house. I think that a big part of the writing happens not in front of the computer, but inside my head, while I’m doing other things.

Do you hear from your readers?  What do they say?

I do a lot of school visits (around 200 per year) so I get to meet my young readers all the time. For me, this is the best part of being an author. Sometimes kids come to me, all excited, and say things like: “I read your book and now I want to become an author when I grow up.” I think it’s is such an honor to inspire children.

What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

One of the toughest things for me as an author is getting rejected by agents or publishers. I’ve experienced that a lot. It is very hard, after you put your heart and soul into writing a story, and it is scary to send it out to other people. Then, when you get a rejection, it hurts. But with time, I learned to deal with it, and realized this is an inevitable part of the process of getting published. You get to hear many NO’s until you finally get that one YES.

What has been the best accomplishment?

I’m glad to say that it is hard for me to chose one. I won several illustration awards, I got accepted to a great literary agency, I now got my new book, Scribble & Author, published by an American publishing house, even though I live in Israel. And yet, nothing compares to this moment, as I described before, when I’m talking to a child who’s read my book and I feel how my book touched that child. Those moments feel to me like my biggest accomplishment.

Do you Google yourself?

Sometimes I do… I sometimes google my name or titles of my books, and discover interesting surprises such as reviews I didn’t know about, or Youtube videos of people reading or recommending my books. These are fun discoveries!

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I write a lot of stories, and I’m part of a critique group, who’s very helpful by the way. Participating in a critique group gives you deadlines, when it’s your time to submit to the group, so I’m motivated to write all the time. Most of the stories I write don’t end up as a story I’m even submitting, because not all of them are good enough. Some of the stories I submitted got rejected to the point that I gave up on them, and only a few have been published. I never counted all of them, but I guess there are a few dozens of stories which are not published and would probably never be. But that’s part of the process to get to the few good ones.

Do you have anything specific that you would like to say to your readers?

My readers are children, as well as parents and educators. So if you are a parent or teacher I want to say to you: Don’t give up on books. Today children have many other attractions, but there is nothing like a good book to open up their minds and hearts. At the young age, parents can sit with their children and enjoy the best quality time of reading a story together. This activity would stay with your child forever, so don’t give up on books.

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