This week, I got to interview Quebec picture book author and illustrator Mélanie Watt. (I'm doing a profile of her for the CANSCAIP newsletter.) Mélanie is the author of 15 books including Scaredy Squirrel and Chester. She's also a great person to interview because she is honest and funny.
Scaredy Squirrel is doing amazingly well and it's going to be the basis of an animated TV series scheduled for broadcast in spring 2011. If you haven't read it, it's about a squirrel who's afraid of just about everything. Mélanie admits she has some Scaredy Squirrel inside herself! She says she's quite shy (though she wasn't with me) and that while she was trying to come up with the idea for this book, she hardly ever left her house (a bit like Scaredy, who doesn't want to leave his tree).
Mélanie says she was "happily surprised" by how much Scaredy's story touched readers: "People working with autistic kids asked me, 'Did you research autism?' Forty-year-olds told me they ran marathons -- thanks to Scaredy."
I asked Mélanie what advice she had for picture book author/illustrators. She said, "Assemble a book. If you want to make books, make a book. You'll figure out the complications in terms of fitting it into a certain number of pages. That's what worked for me."
Mélanie also had advice for aspiring authors: "Overcoming your discomfort adds to your confidence. People are afraid of the words 'author,' 'book' and 'writer.' In my case, when I took the plunge, it took away the fear."
Here's to Mélanie Watt -- and to taking the plunge! Hey, if Scaredy did it, so can we!!