Last Thursday, I took my sister and her son to the airport (hated to see them go, but I’ll be visiting them in a month) and then headed to a Children’s Literature Network event.
At the gorgeous home of writer Catherine Thimmesh, writers, illustrators, librarians, educators, and children’s literature lovers gathered to chat with Eric Rohmann and Candy Fleming. They were both fun and funny, as they spoke about their different working styles (she’s a burrower, he’s a circler) and the challenges of two creative types living and working in the same house. They answered questions about research, their artistic processes, and how they met and ended up together (hey, they said they would answer anything, so people did ask!).
I especially loved hearing Candy talk so passionately about the challenges and joys of writing biographies (The Lincolns, The Great and Only Barnum, Our Eleanor, etc.). I have written a few biographies for educational publishers, and I don’t really like it, and I walked away from Thursday night understanding why I’m so uncomfortable with it. I think a person deserves to have his or her story told by someone who’s so intrigued and dedicated she’s willing to spend an inordinate amount of time on it. And by someone who has the time and dedication to hunt down primary sources and form her own theory/opinion of the subject’s life. With educational publishers, that’s just not the timeline you have to work within. I don’t think biographies are the thing for me, anyway, but it was a treat to hear someone else who does love them talk about them.
And Eric talked a bit about the in-between part. After the "how do you get your ideas" stage but before the "how do you put the pictures together" stage. About the trial and error, the experimentation, the multiple wrong (but not really wrong) attempts as he creates art and/or writes and discovers/develops the story. I’d love to hear more about that, actually. It’s a part that often gets left out of presentations about how a particular work was created.
All in all, it was a great night with super speakers, fabulous food, and terrific conversation. You can see a few more photos here.