I spent most of the official release date at the car repair shop. So, um, woo?
To celebrate (the release date, not the car repairs), I am posting my interview with David Gardner, the book’s incredible illustrator and a fellow I am truly blessed to be associated with. When I first saw his rough sketches for Sarah, I knew this book was going to be something special.
A while back, I held a contest asking you to suggest questions for David and, boy, did you folks deliver. Every interview question here was submitted by a reader. I would highly recommend that, after you finish this post, you click on the links to the questioners’ blogs. I follow every one of them and you should, too.
As you peruse this, you will note that many of the questions are silly. So if you would like to learn more substantial things about David, I would suggest going to his website.
And now on with the interview!
Vanessa Chapman: If you weren’t David Gardner, which David would you like to be?
David Copperfield. Not the Dickens character, but the magician. Because, well, he’s a magician, which is cool in itself, and he can fly (on stage, at least). Oh, and he owns an island. What’s not to like?
LJ Clayton: I can’t draw noses, they all look the same when I try. Have you a tip for drawing a really good nose?
Well, noses are tough, right up there with hands. I break it down into simple geometric shapes. The tip of the nose is a bulb of sorts, so I start with a circle. then the triangle, sort of an elongated pyramid, for the bridge, then two circles for the nostrils. Then I erase everything I don’t need. Sometimes I’ll just start with the triangle-pyramind thing, to place it on the face. One tip: Almost never draw the nostril holes. Even if you see them there, they look piggy when you draw them, unless you’re very close to your subject and at a very low angle. Or unless, of course, they are a pig.
Erin Brady Pike: What best describes your attire while illustrating?
Casual. Sloppy, depending on mood or the weather. Usually barefoot. Short sleeves, or sleeves rolled way up (they get in the way of making big moves with the pencil). I tried drawing naked once, but I found it distracting, and constantly worried that someone would walk in and catch me.
Wendy Lawrence: What was your favorite thing to draw as a kid?
Cartoon characters, any of them, really, but especially Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, Fred Flintstone, Jiminy Cricket and most of the Seven Dwarfs. In the second half of first grade, I drew nothing but the characters from a strange movie called Pinocchio in Outer Space, which my dad sat through twice with me, bless his heart.
Lauri Meyers: Your interpretation of Sarah’s face and body language shows us the hardship this 30-something widower has already faced. Did you try on a corset and bonnet to get into the character?
The short answer is, No. The long answer is No, too, but my jeans are pretty tight these days, so it’s not much of a stretch to imagine squeezing into a corset. I guess I’ve seen Gone With the Wind so many times that imagining myself in a corset and bonnet just feels like my subconscious default. I’m glad you picked up on Sarah’s weariness!
Nancy Tandon: Have you ever been so engrossed in a project that you almost forget to stop and take a bathroom break, dashing to pee at the last second and barely making it?
Yes. I tend to be a bit obsessive, not wanting to stop until I solve a problem. But bathroom breaks are inevitable, unless you’re on a hunger strike, and I find they’re good at easing the obsession, forcing me to step back, walk away, and come back to the painting with a fresh eye. Sometimes, its not obsession, but simply being in The Zone, which feels like a gift of grace, so I like to milk that grace whenever it comes. It’s precious, like sighting a doe in the woods.
Cathy Ballou Mealey: If Sarah Hale were to throw a pie in your face, what kind of pie would you want it to be?
Not pumpkin, like on the cover, that’s for sure. That would hurt, and it would have been in a crockery pie pan, so blood would be involved. I’d pick a lemon meringue, and in a flimsy aluminum plate, please.
Kaleidoscopebrain: What is a secret, really weird thing you love or love to do?
I’m a Virgo, so I don’t do weird things. Or, if I do, I like to keep it a secret. Sorry.
But I’ll fess up to this: Lately I love to watch the Cloud Atlas movie trailer online and cry at the exact same place every single time, when Susan Sarandon says in a voiceover, “Our lives are not our own,” and then, “every act of kindness,” as somebody pulls a blanket over a shivering, sleeping Halle Berry – it gets me every time.
Madame Weebles: If Mike were going to write a children’s book about you, and you could choose someone to illustrate the book (anyone except yourself, that is), who would you choose and why?
Trina Schart Hyman. I love the way she handled people, the flow of her line, so elegant. She wasn’t afraid to be honest and expressive and she hit the full range of emotions head-on, from happy to heartbreaking (just like my life!) Also, she would make me look good, like a real character, and she could paint my life to look more interesting and romantic and mysterious than it has actually been.
Anne Woodman: Which interview question about being an artist or illustrator irritates you the most?
I like mostly any question – it means the work is being talked about, at least. But I do find it irritating when someone asks something like, “What was Harvey Milk like as a boy?” because I don’t know the answer. I research as much as I can, but I’m not as much of an expert on the subject as the writer will be, generally. I’d rather they ask me how to draw a nose.