Miri Leshem-Pelly kindly agreed to answer some questions for us, so below you will find the first part of a two-part interview with Scribble & Author's author (and illustrator)! Here she discusses the influence of her own life on her work and what it means to write books for children. You can find part two here.
Miri Leshem-Pelly: I grew up in Israel, near Tel-Aviv. My childhood house was filled with books, and I was inspired by my mother, who has always been an enthusiastic reader. Reading was one of my main hobbies, as well as writing and drawing. I feel so lucky that I got to turn my childhood hobbies into my profession!
What are the challenges and opportunities you face as a writer for children?
ML: As a picture book writer, the main challenge I face is the need to express an idea using a very limited number of words, while still keeping it communicative and engaging. Sometimes I find that the easy part is writing, but then comes the real complicated work of erasing…
The main opportunity for me in writing for children is that I get to stay a child myself! It connects me with my curiosity, enthusiasm and joy of life. And I also love to meet my young readers when I do author visits. I see this as one of the great perks of my work.
ML: This is a very interesting question! But actually I don’t see the author and the illustrator in me as two individual beings… I see creating a book as one combined task.
However, I do feel that the conversation between Scribble and the author reflects an inner dialogue I have with my creation. I often wonder how much control I have over my characters and how much they get to lead the plot…
And there is one more dialogue in Scribble & Author - a dialogue between imagination and reality. I used photographs of real objects on top of the watercolor drawings to portray the conflict between reality and imagination. As a child I remember sometimes tearing apart my drawings in anger, because they turned out different than the image I had in my mind. But as I grew older I learned not only to accept this gap between imagination and reality, but to really love it. Today I try to let go and allow the physical materials (like, for example, the way watercolors are absorbed into the paper) to interact and influence my creation. This makes the art process much more surprising and fascinating.
ML: I love nature! I grew up in a family of nature lovers and went on numerous trips as a child. Sometimes I used to complain about waking up early on vacation days to go hiking, while my classmates get to sleep late. But today I know that those family trips became my sweetest childhood memories: crossing rivers, jumping between rocks, or the satisfaction of reaching the mountaintop after a long, hard climb. So it was only *natural* for me to give Scribble a taste of these adventures.