Some of my best memories as a child were the storytelling sessions
with my Grandmother. My sisters and I were mesmerized by the tales
Grandma told us about going to Montana from Missouri in a covered wagon
when she was only three years old. She showed us the scar of a
mishap when she got her hand caught under the spring seat of the wagon.
She always had a new tale to tell us about when she was a child, and
she was a wonderful storyteller. We thought she had lived a magical
I just finished reading Bernelly & Harriet: The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. What a great new idea on an old favorite!
Bev: Could you tell us about yourself? According to your biography page, you do the things that Bernelly & Harriet do in the story...fly fishing and painting. What was Elizabeth, the child like?
Elizabeth: As a child I liked to play with friends, read, paint and do the things that kids do. I was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota and lived there till I was six before moving with my family to Wimbeldon, England. I loved my childhood in England. I lived behind an old estate that was turned into a park. I would often climb over the fence of our garden with my brother and go exploring. In the park there was a bamboo forest, a pet cemetery and a giant birdcage as big as a house. It was completely enchanting. I know that a lot of my work is inspired by that time in my life. After living in England for four years my family moved to New Jersey, Connecticut and finally Massachusetts. I am dyslexic so school was never easy for me. I spent a lot of time in class drawing, when I should have been taking notes, and day dreaming, when I should have been listening. I like to think it was all good practice for my future career choice!
Bev: What was your greatest inspiration to write for children?
Elizabeth: I have always adored children's books; I like to read them still. I could loose a day in a bookstore just reading and looking at illustrations. I guess you do what you love!
Bev: Who have been your favorite authors, as a child and now?
Elizabeth: My favorite author as a child and now as an adult is Maud Hart Lovelace. I could climb to the top of a tree and sing her praises, but instead I recommend everyone to read her books.
Bev: The paintings for this book are rendered in gouache. Since I'm not an artist, I had no idea what that meant. How does gouache differ from other watercolor techniques?
Elizabeth: Gouache is a paint that can be used like watercolor by letting it harden in your pallet, or like oil, using it straight from the tube. It has a very high concentration of pigment which makes the colors it produces quite extraordinary.
Bev: Do you have other books that have been published? Do you illustrate for other authors?
Elizabeth: Bernelly and Harriet is my second book, though the first that I both authored and illustrated. My first book was Henrietta, written by the Pulitzer Prize winning author David Mamet.
Bev: How did you come to choose mice as your characters? Do you have other stories to tell about Bernelly & Harriet?
Elizabeth: I chose mice for this story, as it was the country mouse and the city mouse fable that I wanted to rewrite. I draw many other animals though, pigs, bunnies, alligators even people. As to more stories about Bernelly and Harriet I have heard, recently, that they were planning a trip to Paris. It seems that now Harriet needs a new pair of shoes; of course she wants her cousin Bernelly to accompany her to search for some. I am waiting desperately for a post card to hear all about it!
Bev: Most people who have ideas for children's books lack the great talent that you have to both write and illustrate books. What advice do you have for aspiring children's writers or illustrators?
Elizabeth: I think there are many, many talented people out there that write and paint. The only advice I can give is the advice I give myself: keep writing keep painting and you'll keep getting better.
Bev: I'm sure you have about a zillion more ideas clamoring for immediate attention...how do you see your future in the publishing industry?
Elizabeth: In the future I would love to work with my brother (a writer) and sister (a film student) on some sort of project. I think we could collaborate pretty well together. Meanwhile I continue doing what I love writing stories and painting!
Elizabeth, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us.
We are looking forward to the next adventure of Bernelly & Harriet!!
Next Month: Roxanne Camron's "60 Clues About Guys: A Guide to Feelings, Flirting, and Falling in Like" from Lunchbox Press