Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on picture book author and illustrator Nancy Tillman. Nancy, could you please tell us briefly a little about yourself and your work? How would you like us to introduce you?
My name is Nancy Tillman. I’m the author of 16 books, 5 of which were New York Times Bestsellers.
Where can people find your work?
My books are online and in bookstores everywhere.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
You can follow me on my website, nancytillman.com and on Instagram and Facebook @nancytillmanauthor
For readers unfamiliar with your work, how would you describe what you do? What can readers expect from you next, or what is the last thing you worked on?
My goal has always been to give parents the words to speak the love they have for their children.
What kind of research went into your last project? What is your favorite research story? What cool facts and findings didn’t make it into the final product, but you loved discovering?
I can’t say that research applies to my books most of the time. But I had a great time researching fairytales for my book “I Knew You Could Do it!”
What was the inspiration for Because You’re Mine? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished piece of work?
It takes me about nine months to write and illustrate a book. My last book, Because You’re Mine, was inspired by children’s wishes to know they truly belong.
What was the biggest challenge putting out Because You’re Mine? How did you overcome that challenge?
Every book is like a big puzzle! So getting text and illustrations to work together well is always a challenge. I also try to get my message across in about 350 words, in rhyme! That’s the biggest challenge.
What draws you to the particular genre or style that you create? What do you think draws customers to these works?
Dr. Suess had a huge impact on me as a child. I actually think in rhyme when I am writing. Parents tell me that my books speak the deep love they have for their children. That is so gratifying, because that is my dearest wish.
What is your favorite part of being an artist/author? Of the whole art and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite part is having adults tell me that my books speak the words of their hearts, and have touched their children, even their adult children.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other artists/authors?
I think good writing has to come from a pure, true place in one’s heart.
How important has the New England setting been to your work?
I love to put children in beautiful wide open spaces in my illustrations, of which New England has many!
What else can we expect from you in the near future?
I have no book in the works at the moment.
What is/are your passions when you’re not creating your works? How do you make time for your non-art based hobbies/things you love?
I love to read, and I love anything having to do with animals.
What are some of your art-related hobbies, crafts, addictions?
I enjoy oil painting.
What does your work space look like?
What do you need to have around you while working? All my work is created digitally. So a computer is all I need!
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
I am left-handed. That’s why I choose to work digitally. I smear everything otherwise!
What has been your favorite adventure during your career?
My husband and I have been so fortunate to spend time in several African countries where I could see many of the animals I put in my books.
While you’re working, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
Silence! I must hyper-focus when I am working.
Artists very often have furry or feathered or otherwise non-human companions to “help” them through their work. Do you? What do you have? How do they “help” (or, “not-help”) with your creations?
I have a little pug and a French bulldog who are always beside me when I am working.
Do you have any favorite foods or drinks that must be in the vicinity (or must be avoided) while you’re creating a piece of work?
Earl Grey tea.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the publishing process? And how do you overcome that?
Getting started is always the hardest thing… one just has to keep plugging away until the book begins to reveal itself!
What is the greatest lesson you’ve learned, thus far, in your career as an artist/author?
Gratitude. That’s why I always try to respond to anyone who has honored me by contacting me.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other artists/authors that have helped you in your career?
I self-published my first book almost two decades ago, and the world has changed greatly since then. When young writers/illustrators ask me, I direct them to The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
Nancy, Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our questions.