Annie's Book Stop of Worcester

The little bookstore that's bigger on the inside

 

 

Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on picture book author and illustrator Astrid Sheckels.

 

Astrid, can you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your writing and illustration?

 

 

I am a children’s book author and illustrator (watercolor), in Western Massachusetts, focusing on whimsical stories for ages 3-8. Animals have always been a big source of inspiration for me, especially imaginary ones that talk and wear clothes, so it’s no wonder that they have crept into my storytelling and art as well!

 

 

 

Where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester–though they should totally check here first!)

 

 

My books are available in bookshops, museum stores, online – basically anywhere books are sold!

 

 

 

How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?

 

 

You can find me on Instagram and Facebook (handle @astridsheckelsart) where I post in-progress views of my desktop, book news, and lots and lots of artwork. Be sure to check out my Etsy shop (etsy.com/shop/astridsheckelsart) where I have an extensive greeting card line, prints, bookmarks, and sometimes even a few originals. My website (astridsheckels.com) has a full listing of my books and upcoming events.

 

 

 

For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you write?  What can readers expect from Hector Fox and the Raven’s Revenge?

 

 

Reminiscent of Wind in the Willows and Winnie the Pooh, the Hector Fox series follows the delightful exploits of Hector Fox and his charming woodland friends as they seek adventure, hunt for giants, solve mysteries, and build friendships. Clues abound in “Raven’s Revenge” as the friends set about investigating why sinister birds are arriving at the Stone Tower. The gentle suspense of this story culminates in a satisfying twist what will leave readers smiling.

 

 

 

How important has the New England setting been to your writing and illustration?

 

 

The Hector books were totally inspired by New England. I chose animals that are native to this area (fox, bear, moose, skunk, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit). I created landscapes inspired by places I’ve hiked and paddled. I want these tales to ring true for children here in New England (and beyond), for them to go outside and imagine and explore, just like I have done, just like Hector and his friends.

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Joy Sanders

 

 

How important has the New England setting been to your writing and illustration?

 

 

The Hector books were totally inspired by New England. I chose animals that are native to this area (fox, bear, moose, skunk, chipmunk, cottontail rabbit). I created landscapes inspired by places I’ve hiked and paddled. I want these tales to ring true for children here in New England (and beyond), for them to go outside and imagine and explore, just like I have done, just like Hector and his friends.

 

 

 

What do you consider the most challenging part of the illustration process? And how do you overcome that?

 

 

The most challenging part is constantly doubting myself while I’m creating. I get to a point in every illustration where I feeling stuck and uncertain, questioning if it will turn out, wondering if I should keep going or start afresh. It is usually best to persevere and finish. All sorts of exciting discoveries can be made if you stick it out.

 

 

 

What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your writing/illustrating career?

 

 

I started my career as an illustrator and had five books under my belt before my debut book as an author and illustrator was published (Nic and Nellie, 2013). Since then I haven’t looked back. I love being part of things from the beginning, getting to plan each aspect of the story to have as much visual appeal as possible. The way text and illustrations interact in a young picture book is unique, each one telling an important part of the story, supporting but not repeating each other.

 

 

Since the Hector Fox series is imaginary (as opposed to the realistic look of my earlier work), I discovered that creating a whole book (and world) based purely on my imagination is actually a lot harder than I’d expected. Everything has to be made-up and yet still believable, even the clutter inside Hector’s house.

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Joy Sanders

 

 

What else can we expect from you in the near future?

 

 

There are lots of exciting things in the works! “Hector Fox and the Daring Flight”  arrives in October 2022 and “Hector Fox and the Map of Mystery” is scheduled for a Spring 2023 release. Readers will also be introduced to the charming canine-marine world of “Sea Dog” in Spring 2023.

 

 

 

Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Astrid.

 

 

 

 

 

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