Q: What was your inspiration behind creating Hello, Moon?
The story of Hello, Moon was inspired by a few different things and changed over the course of making the book! Initially, I had the idea because my husband, Chris, commented one night about how difficult it was to catch a night with a New Moon. So I began thinking of an idea of a parent teaching a child a ritual of going out on the night of the New Moon to see all of the stars. I liked the idea of appreciating the moon on nights when it wasn’t glowing as well. As I worked on the book, my nephew, Graham, who was around two at the time, began to be fascinated with the moon. One night, when we were all camping in the Grand Canyon together, he pointed up and asked his mom where the moon was, and I loved that moment as the impetus for the parent and child’s nightly walks in the book.
Q: When it’s time to create a new story, what part of the process do you find the easiest: the writing or the illustration?
I think figuring out the direction for the story is the most difficult for me: zeroing in on the central theme and arc for the book. There are always a million different variations and directions a story could go in, so it can be difficult to figure out what parts need to get cut. The illustration is the fun part. I generally always have an idea of what I want the book to feel like as I’m writing it, but once I start putting brush to paper the world of each book starts to come alive for me, and that’s the most exciting part.
Q: Your illustrations are always so rich and expressive with their color palettes, how do you decide on the look of your stories?
I always try and find a style or a medium that captures the essence of each story. For historical non-fiction books, it’s always influenced by the subject, time period, and art related to where the story takes place. For a book like Hello, Moon, that is more open, it’s about capturing the right feeling. For this book, the most important thing for me was trying to capture the magic of the night sky, which is an almost impossible task! I used marbling inks to create a swirling pattern on the nighttime scenes that gives the skies the subtlety, motion, and intricacy of a starry sky (without painting each and every star, which doesn’t have the same effect).
Q: What advice would you give to young authors and budding illustrators?
My advice to young authors and illustrators is to experiment! There are so many ways to create pictures and to tell stories, and the more new ideas you allow yourself to try, the more stories you will be inspired to make. I think a lot of times artists can get stuck in thinking there’s a “right way” to make art or write a story, but each author and illustrator has their own unique and personal perspective that makes their art special.