Interview with Hank
When did you start writing?
I began writing seriously in the second grade. I wrote a science-fiction story about time travel.
Where do you write?
Anywhere an idea strikes me, but mostly at my computer. If I’m away from my computer, I’ll sit with a notebook and pencil to sketch out ideas or write down dialogue that occurs to me.
Do you write your stories on a computer or do you use a pencil?
I use both, but mostly I write using my computer. I learned to type during high school and over the years have become very good at it. I can type almost as fast as I can think up ideas. At one time I could type over eighty words per minute.
Have you always been a writer?
As I said before, I started writing seriously in the second grade at age seven. I have written pretty consistently since then. Most people never knew it because I didn’t show my work to anyone. I had some very encouraging English teachers along the way who helped me continue to write. I did write, direct and act in a play during high school.
Where do your ideas for stories come from?
Ideas come from anywhere, but mostly from things around us. I use the people I meet, places I visit or things I see to build backgrounds for stories, but the inspiration for plots comes a lot from reading and talking to people.
Where do the character’s names in your stories come from?
I have always loved the names that movies give people and since I have been a movie-goer since age five, I have been collecting names that I have seen and heard in movies. One of my all-time favorite names is Jack T. Colton from the movie “Romancing The Stone.” I hope to use that name in a story some day.
How long does it take to write a story?
As long as it takes. That sounds like a smart alec answer, but I don’t mean it that way. A story doesn’t always come all at once, unless you are writing fact based history. Usually you begin with an idea and then see where it takes you. In my latest book “The River Rats” I started out to tell one story and another just kept coming into my mind. At one point, I had written fifteen pages of the second story before I realized I had left the first behind. Now I am attempting to go back and write the first story.
Once you have written the basic story, then you have to go back and reread and rewrite what you have just written. That may take many attempts to get it just right. During this time you may add or delete parts of the story until you get it to sound just the way you feel it should. This may take weeks, months or possibly even years. I have one story that I began six years ago and felt it was completed six weeks after I started. Now I feel like it is incomplete.
Are all of your stories for kids?
No, I have written for adults also.
Are you writing anything right now?
Yes. At the present time my wife and I are writing a follow-up to our book “Marky The Barking Bullfrog” and I am also laying out the next book in my “River Rat” series. It is tentatively titled “The Great Dirt Clod Wars.”
Do you choose your illustrator?
So far I have been very lucky, because I am married to a very talented artist who illustrated my first book for youngsters – “Marky The Barking Bullfrog.” She and I are now working on a follow-up, so I guess the answer is yes. I do choose my illustrator.
What is your favorite picture book?
I have loved the book – “The Snowman” since I first saw it. I think it is my favorite picture book.
What is your favorite book?
Two that come to mind are – “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee and “Raise The Titanic” by Clive Cussler.
What sport do you like best?
I like just about any sport, but my favorites are football and baseball. I played both as well as basketball during high school. I would still be playing them, but I’m a little too old, so I play my other favorite sport now, golf.
What is your favorite food?
Bar-B-Q and potato salad. I think I could eat those two things for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In fact, I think I have.
Do you have any pets?
We have had three dogs in our family over the last 35 years.Our first dog was named Software. She was a black Greyhound Labrador. Our second dog was named Punkin. She was a mutt. Morgan, our Chihuahua was our third dog. Morgan lived until she was 14 and one half years old. We also had a calico cat named Calico! Butch and Ferlin, our neighbors' cats slept on our porch many nights. Since we travel so much now we are not going to have any more pets.
Interview with Jan
The materials I use are acrylic paint, tissue paper, Bristol board, and prepared wallpaper paste. First I paint tissue paper all colors and designs. I love to be creative and work with color. My studio becomes a very messy place somedays. Sometimes I paint specific colors for a project, but most of the time I paint paper randomly. Each picture is a very detailed puzzle putting together all the pieces to create the collage. After the whole picture is complete I glue each tiny piece onto the Bristol board.
Is cutting all the pieces hard?
Scissors and an Exacto Knife are tools I use for cutting. You need to cut slowly and precisely. It is hard at times to get all the pieces just the way you want them to look, but I keep working on each piece until it satisfies me.
Who are your favorite illustrators?
I have admired Eric Carle, Patricia Polacco, and Hugh Keiser’s illustrations for a long time.
What is your favorite children’s book?
When I was six years old my favorite book was “Davie Decides”. Davie was always getting into trouble and making his sister very unhappy. I read “Davie Decides” many times in my younger years. I never liked to get into trouble so Davie made me laugh. “My Father’s Dragon” is my all time favorite book to read to children. When I taught school my students and I would act out the book. We had such a good time reading and pretending.
Do you like frogs or snakes?
Frogs have always been my friends, but snakes have always made me shiver. I think the surprise effect that snakes have is what I can’t get use to. They appear at the most unexpected times.
What are your favorite colors?
My favorite colors are purple, turquoise, and blue. These colors keep popping up in the clothes I wear, around our house, and in my artwork.
Is it true you were a teacher?
I was a teacher for 33 years. In fact from the time I started first grade until I retired in 2004 I had always been in a school setting. That totaled 49 years of my life.
Do you miss teaching?
I miss teaching, but I am lucky because I still get to visit schools and be in classrooms when Hank and I do school presentations and share about being an author and illustrator.
Did you draw when you were little?
I didn’t have a lot of art materials when I was little, but when I went to college I was able to take some art classes that encouraged me to further my creativity.