My favorite part was the research about other cultures and asking friends from different countries about their memories – or if they were lucky to have them alive, present moments with their grandparents. All my grandparents and Erin’s grandparents are deceased, but my sons are lucky enough to have all four still alive, active and able to visit us each year. Which brings me to another theme in these books that is very personal to me and to a lot of people in the world – long-distance grandparenting. My parents live in Brazil and are able visit our family every year. However, long distance doesn’t only mean an international flight – my in-laws are in Florida, so all of my sons’ grandparents are at least a 4-hour flight away. We are still able to stay connected through modern technologies like FaceTime, texting and email. In the closing of both books, Erin’s bittersweet ending implied a long-distance relationship, so I showed all the ways that technology can be used for bringing grandparents and grandkids together even when they are far away.
Which spreads are your favorites and why?
It’s hard to pick because all of Erin’s stanzas are so easy on the ear and heart! I will mention 2 that resonate for different reasons: I love how the spread about “grandma’s favorite walk” turned out. I lived in California but was about to move to Washington state at that point, and I was doing a lot of research about the Pacific Northwest’s beautiful, rugged coast and the Native Americans that had lived here. I am happy with how I was able to capture the colors of the Pacific Northwest and the connection between the two characters sharing that moment. Six months later I ended up visiting a very similar beach in Olympic National Park.
In Grandpa’s, I love this stanza: “My grandpa’s favorite truck / is at the fire station. He used to drive the hook and ladder. / Now he’s on vacation.” Initially I envisioned an active grandpa/grandkid going to the fire station where grandpa used to work, talking to the younger firefighters. Then I thought it was such a great opportunity to show an older, frail grandpa in a wheelchair, sharing old photos of his firefighting days to his grandson. Maybe he is even starting to lose his memory, and the patient kid is helping him to remember. Our editor loved the idea of showing that fragile side, and it turned out to be a gentle, quiet but evocative scene. Lastly, I can’t go without mentioning that both my parents are on the covers, and my in-laws are with my sons in the airport scene in one of the books.
Happy Grandparents Day! If you live close to yours, give them a hug, if not, give them a call! May all long-distance grandparents in the world be able to visit and enjoy their grandkids. Thank you for interviewing me!