Today I have the good fortune of interviewing Laurie Campbell, a children's author who writes and illustrates her own books. She's been honing her crafts since 2011.
Her stories are inspired by her nature photography and travels. Her illustrations are created by hand. She uses a variety of medium; acrylics, water colours, coloured pencils, pastels, and coloured chalk.
She has self-published 20 books.
-Why did you start writing children’s books?
I first started painting. There is a limited market for art. I used my paintings as inspirations for my stories. I would serialize my stories and share them via email with my friends.
-Who were your influences at the time?
I met someone on my travels who saw potential in my work and suggested I should have my stories published.
Sigrid Macdonald was my other major influence. She was my first editor and from her I learned how to craft a story.
-Name three of your top favourite children’s books and why.
The Adventures of Paddy the Beaver, The Rupert Annual, and Winnie-the-Pooh, the original by A.A. Milne.
I was raised on a farm and animals were part of my life. The stories were whimsical and had adventures.
-Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am neither. I begin with an idea. I select animals and landscape from my vast archive of photos. I create on average twenty to twenty-five illustrations.
More if I create collages. My characters tell me how the plot will unfold.
-What are your two virtues in a character?
Based on my previous comment they need to be honest and patient.
-What is your idea of happiness?
Having characters who can resolve their conflicts. It is hard having to be the referee.
-What are your ideal writing conditions?
When my characters can resolve their conflicts.
-Where or when are you most inspired?
Going for walks or being near water.
-What do you appreciate most in your friends?
Their life experiences.
-Where would you like to live?
A cozy nest up in an oak tree.
-Who are your greatest influences in your life?
My grandmother Campbell, my art teacher Mr. Bose, who told me, “It’s only paint, get on with it!”, my father, who instilled in me, “We don’t own the land, we are borrowing it.”, and my faith in God.
-If there was one recommendation you could give to authors starting out, what would it be?
Get a good editor.
-What are the characteristics you believe make a great children’s book?
The story should appeal to children’s senses and emotions. Should be meaningful without be didactic and have adventures.
-What is the title of your latest story?
Mazy the White-Footed Mouse and the Earth Beneath Her Feet
-Can you give us a synopsis of it?
It is a story set in a forest, where the trees take on the shape of animals and birds. Underneath lies the mysterious world of mushrooms. Mazy and her friends Truffles the Pig and Murray the Mole guide children through this magical land. Watch and be careful which mushrooms you want to pick. For you will be in for a big surprise.
-What sparked the underlying theme?
I want to encourage people to take the time to stop and look around them and appreciate the local environment. Our local trail is abundant in flora and fauna, but people don’t pay attention to what we have at our feet.
-Are you working on anything else?
I am now working on a story about how animals hear. Do you know if butterflies have ears? Which has better hearing a wolf or a rabbit? Do animals with large ears hear better than animals with little ears. So many questions to ask my characters.
If you'd like to find her latest two books, Dani to the Rescue and Mazy the White-Footed Mouse and the Earth Beneath her Feet, they can be ordered from her website https://storytellerlaurie.com
People can contact her or follow her through her website.
Instead of video, she has done interviews which are available on YouTube.
https://youtu.be/sdKlvlBFjhA interview Book Expo
If you love children's books, you'll enjoy The Booger Hunter's Apprentice!
Would you like to read more interviews? Here is the previous one I had with Andrew F. Sullivan.