Welcome JANIE BYNUM, our guest author/artist for 2011 NaPiBoWriWee Day Seven!
Janie Bynum is an author and illustrator of children’s books. Originally from Dallas, she has lived half her life in Texas and half of it in Michigan (with a one-year residency in Oak Park, IL). She graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from the University of North Texas. Over the years she developed her illustration and writing skills and attended two children’s book illustration classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. In addition to writing and illustrating books, she operates a successful graphic design business. In 1997 she got her first picture book contract based on a story she wrote and for which she created rough illustrations (a full “dummy”). The book, ALTOONA BABOONA, hit the shelves in the spring of 1999. Since then, she’s written and/or illustrated another 20 picture books. Her most recent picture book is KIKI’S BLANKIE, from Sterling Publishing. She has several other picture book stories in various stages of “un-done.” For more information on Janie, please check out her website here: http://janiebynum.com/
Janie graciously agreed to autograph a copy of Kiki’s Blankie for this year’s prize giveaway. Thank you, Janie!
(Keep reading for the rest of our Q&A with Janie Bynum after the jump…)
Q&A WITH JANIE BYNUM
— Where is the best place for you to write your books?
On a beach with a margarita in my hand? Oh. Wait. Then I couldn’t type. But I could THINK a lot in that place…
In the REAL world:
I’m pretty clichéd—as I like to write in coffee shops. I try to write at home, and sometimes I do, but there seems to be more DO-able distractions at home. And something about the energy of a public place seems to catalyze me. I tune it out, but I like the din. Can’t say I always like my fave coffee shop’s taste in music, but, that’s what ear buds and iPods are for.
— If you weren’t a writer/artist, what would you be?
A forensic pathologist. Or an heiress.
— Tell us something about yourself that most people don’t know.
I’ll tell two:
1. I got the Science Award my senior year of high school. In college, I worked on a minor in pre-med sciences for medical illustration for a while before I majored in graphic design. And at one point in my life, I considered going to medical school—to become a doctor.
2. I really hate to admit this in public… I’m hooked on those “real” crime shows (ie, 48 Hours, Crime 360). I swear, I will write a “whodunnit” one of these days. You know, if I can ever write more than 1,000 words.
— What was the most unusual job you ever had?
Working in the pathology lab of a hospital at 17 (between my senior year of high school and my freshman year in college). I helped stain slides for the pathologists to read, saw a lot of “removed” organs and tumors (post-operative) and witnessed a few autopsies— but it didn’t creep me out. Now THAT’S the unusual part.
— Tell us about your first published book – what inspired the idea? How long did it take to write (for artists – or illustrate & write)? Any fun details about the road to your first book’s publication?
ALTOONA BABOONA. Born on the train between Kalamazoo, MI and Chicago, IL in 1997. The lines: “Altoona Baboona flicks peas with a spoon-a. She dances all night and sings songs to the moon-a…” arrived in my head. I have no idea why. I’ve never been to Altoona, PA. And, really, baboons are NOT the cutest or cuddliest of animals to anthropomorphize. But there she was. So I sketched her and developed a dummy that sold to Harcourt.
— If you could give one piece of writing advice for our NaPiBoWriWee participants, what would it be?
You know the one that all writers say? The one about keep a journal or pad of paper—ANYthing to write on—nearby at all times…Yeah. That one. Because, don’tcha know, it’s always the brilliant ideas that are the hardest to remember.
— What is your favorite art medium and why? (oil, watercolor etc.)
Water color, pencil, pen & ink, pastel—traditional and digital.
— When you write and illustrate your own picture book, do you write the story first or do you come up with a certain image first? I’m curious to hear this process.
For me the processes are fairly simultaneous. I may get an idea for a book; but before I write the story, I usually create the visual character. The only character-driven book I did differently was OTIS. I felt I had to “prove” to myself that I could write a story without having to draw and paint the character. So I wrote and submitted the story before I developed the visual. I’m sure, though, that that fastidious little piglet lived in my head fairly vividly. So even though he didn’t make it to paper (or digital file), there was probably a “character sketch” in my head.
Thank you so much Janie for your generosity in answering our questions. For NaPiBoWriWee participants, you might win an autographed copy of Janie’s Kiki’s Blankie at this year’s drawing, too! We look forward to your comments on Janie. Until then… Happy Writing! WRITE LIKE YOU MEAN IT!