Meet Iza Trapani, Author/Illustrator – And A Giveaway!

Happy Monday Everyone!  I hope you all had a lovely weekend!

You know, I struggle a little with this blog schedule.  On the one hand, I don’t want to post more than three days a week.  On the other hand, I don’t want to cram so much into a post that you the one look at all that text and skip on to the next blog (I know – I haven’t quite mastered that one :)).  On the other hand, I don’t want to post twice in a day because that’s as bad as adding a day –  I know how busy everyone is, how many great blogs there are to read out there, and how limited your time is.  On the other hand (I believe we’re up to four hands now… so you see the struggle!) there’s is so much to share!!!  I had thought I could solve one problem by posting the monthly interviews on Saturday or Sunday, but I didn’t like that and neither, I think, did you.  We all need a break.  So I’m booting Oh Susanna this week and putting the interview in here.

And oh I have such a treat for you today!  Please join me in welcoming the incomparable Iza Trapani!

SLH:  When did you first become interested in writing and/or illustrating?  Was it something you always did, or something you came to later in life?
Author/Illustrator Iza Trapani
IT:  I have been an artist since I could hold a pencil in my hand (or lipstick for that matter; as a toddler, I used my mom‘s lipstick to paint a masterpiece on our wall.) I have also always enjoyed writing, especially poetry. In high school and college, while art was my main focus, I took as many creative writing courses as I could.
SLH:  Were you encouraged by family/teachers?
IT:  Yes, as long as I stayed away from the lipstick, my family encouraged me. They read and sang to me and instilled in me a lifelong love of art, language and music. Friends and teachers did as well, throughout my whole life. Their belief in me has always been and continues to be empowering.
SLH:  You are both an author and an illustrator.  Which comes first for you, the story or the art?
        
IT:  The story comes first, but I  envision the pictures as I write it. I want to be sure that the story suggests wonderful imagery and that scenes vary from page to page.
SLH:  Where/when/how do you get your ideas?
At the most inopportune times- in the middle of the night, in the shower, when I am driving…The idea for my first children‘s book, What am I? An Animal Guessing Game came to me  when I was on  a long mountain bike ride twenty-two years ago. When a turtle crosed the trail in front of me, I made up a little rhyming riddle about him. By the time I returned home an hour or so later, I had the book roughed out and some of the verses composed.  I  never really thought of myself as a writer until that point.  I had a portfolio packed with children‘s book art but not one story. And then one day (thank you turtle), I tapped into that part of my brain, and after that ideas kept pouring out.
SLH:  What has been the most challenging thing you have faced as an author/illustrator?
IT:  Maybe two things: The waiting- hearing back from editors and art directors, waiting for the book to be printed, waiting for reviews, waiting for royalty statements…The other challenge is  having my illustrations in progress (especially covers) reviewed by, not just the art director and editor, but the marketing team, the sales team, the editorial departments etc. I am very easy to work with and totally open to viable suggestions, but after a while it becomes art by committee.Have you ever heard the expression that a camel is a horse that was designed by a committee?Well, it‘s something like that!
SLH:  What has been the most wonderful thing that has happened to you as an author/illustrator?
IT:  I can‘t put my finger on one thing. There have been so many exciting and gratifying moments. What warms my heart the most is the love and loyalty from my generous fan base – the parents, the early educators, the children, the supportive fellow authors, like you, Susanna. I have met so many wonderful people on this great journey!
SLH:  What has been your best selling book so far?
IT:  The Itsy Bitsy Spider. I am proud (and amazed) to say it has sold over a million copies  and is still going strong.
SLH:  Why do you think that might have been?
IT:  Timing might have had something to do with it. There weren‘t many retellings of nursery rhymes at the time (that I know of ) and so I found a niche in the market. The book became instantly popular with teachers, especially Pre-K to K. I had very positive feedback from early educators telling me how useful the book was in teaching young children to read – that the kids recognized the title so they were eager to look inside the book, that they already knew the first verse so that gave them confidence to learn the other verses. Plus the book could be sung for even easier learning.

SLH:  Were you surprised by one book’s success over another’s?
IT:  With over twenty years of practice, both my writing and illustration have improved, so it surprises me that my fifteenth book, Froggie Went A-Courtin’, which has some of my best artwork, is not doing anywhere near as well as my second book,  The Itsy Bitsy Spider.
SLH:  Have all your titles earned out?
IT:  Fifteen of the seventeen books that I haveboth written and illustrated have earned out. I have also illustrated four books for other authors and two of those have earned out.
SLH:  Are they all still in print?
IT:  All but one of my titles, a non-nursery rhyme book, My Jack are still in print. Of the four books I illustrated for other authors, only one, The Wedding by Eve Bunting, is still in print.  I have worked with small presses, who keep books in print longer than some of the big houses. My books have had a long run. I have been very lucky.

SLH:  Have sales affected publishers’ willingness to do further projects in a good or bad way?
IT:  The publishing world is in such a sea of change right now and publishers are wary and much more discriminating. It’s a very tough market right now- even for those of us with good track records.
SLH:  Can you give us any hints about what you’re working on now?

IT:  I have a new book coming out Apri11, 2012- The Bear Went Over the Mountain. As for works in progress, I have a few children’s stories brewing and am  also working on the last chapter of an adult(maybe YA) memoir.

SLH:  What advice do you have for authors/illustrators just starting out?

IT:  Spend A LOT of time reading and studying childrens books. Read adult books on writing and/or illustrating. Practice and work hard on your stories and art. Take classes, workshops, join a critique group. Look honestly at your work and polish it to the best of your ability before submitting. There is a wealth of information on the internet. Check out writing/illustrating blogs.  Join the SCBWI  (society for childrens book writers and illustrators)who offer great advice and opportunities for those hoping to become published.

SLH:  Where can we find you?
IT:  My website: www.izatrapani.com
Twitter: @IzaTrapani

And now the quick, fun questions for the end! 🙂

Agented or not? agented
Traditionally or self-published? traditionally
Hard copy or digital? hard copy
Apps or not? no
Left-handed or right?  I”m a rightie (hands only :-), though I have suspicions I was born leftie and my parents raised me to use my right hand. I lead with my left hand in so many things…Long answer!
Plotter or pantser? plonster
Laptop or desktop? laptop
Mac or PC? Mac
Day or night worker? day
Coffee or tea? Both
Snack or not? Snack
Salty or sweet? Yes!
Quiet or music? quiet when writing/music when illustrating
Cat or dog? One of each (although – SLH here – I’ve seen her dog and he’s more like a pony :))
Currently reading? Besides blogs? 🙂 Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Thank you so much for joining us, Iza!

And now, as if that very informative interview wasn’t enough, you all have a chance to win a signed, hardcover copy of Iza’s brand new book which isn’t even officially out until April 1!!!  To qualify, leave a comment below in which (in addition to whatever else you might or might not say) you include 4 rhyming lines about a bear 🙂  Qualified comments will be loaded into random.org and one lucky winner will receive The Bear Went Over The Mountain before the rest of the world 🙂

Now, very quickly before we go:
1.  Look for Phyllis’s visit to Saskatchewan on Beth’s blog tomorrow (Tuesday, March 20) – it promises to be quite something!
2.  I will be featured on Children’s Literature Network’s new feature – Bookscope: The Story Behind The Story – with the story behind Not Yet, Rose tomorrow also! (link will be added when I have it!)
3.  Phyllis had an AMAZING visit to Missouri which you won’t want to miss (especially if you’re a CARS fan :)) so please visit Andi 🙂  And be sure to check in with Phyllis’s World Tour page for updates between blog posts here!

Thank you all for visiting with Iza!  Now write those 4 rhyming lines about a bear 🙂 – you could WIN!!!  (Oh, and please get your rhyming lines in by 5 PM EDT Tuesday March 20 – the winner will be announced Wednesday!)


108 thoughts on “Meet Iza Trapani, Author/Illustrator – And A Giveaway!

  1. Amy Dixon says:

    Not sure how I missed this post! Wanted to say hello to Iza. We share a publisher, as my pb is also coming out with Sky Pony Press! Looking forward to the arrival of The Bear Went Over the Mountain in April. I am in major waiting mode right now, so I definitely resonated with your response to the “challenges” question. Darn, I was hoping the waiting part would get easier over time, but I guess not. Thanks for the great interview, Susanna and Iza!

  2. Amy Dixon says:

    Thanks, Susanna! The book is Marathon Mouse…while most New York City mice tremble in fear at the thought of being trampled during the City's annual marathon, one brave mouse puts on his running shoes, stretches his stubby little legs, and joins the race to fulfill his larger-than-life dream. It's my first, so very very exciting!

  3. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    What a great idea!!! Having grown up in Manhattan and watched my husband and brothers run the marathon many times, I can't wait to read it!

    Amy Dixon wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    Thanks, Susanna! The book is Marathon Mouse…while most New York City mice tremble in fear at the thought of being trampled during the City's annual marathon, one brave mouse puts on his running shoes, stretches his stubby little legs, and joins the race to fulfill his larger-than-life dream. It's my first, so very very exciting!

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  4. Amy Dixon says:

    I didn't know you grew up in Manhattan! It is funny how many people have connections to marathons. The first editor I subbed to said, “but kids don't run marathons…” I'm fairly certain she had never been to a marathon, because if she had she would have been knee-deep in kids cheering on their parents!

  5. Susanna Leonard Hill says:

    So true! My kids certainly have been cheering on their dad and uncles since they could ride on my back in a backpack!

    Amy Dixon wrote, in response to Susanna Leonard Hill:

    I didn't know you grew up in Manhattan! It is funny how many people have connections to marathons. The first editor I subbed to said, “but kids don't run marathons…” I'm fairly certain she had never been to a marathon, because if she had she would have been knee-deep in kids cheering on their parents!

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    Link to comment

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