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Okay, be honest. Was this book not made for me?!
When I heard that a book called PENCILVANIA was coming out, I knew I had to get my hands on it. And when I did, I fell head over heels for the magnifient story.
PENCILVANIA author Stephanie Watson kindly agreed to chat with me (and give away a signed copy of her book!), sharing inspiration behind the book and the answers to a few other of my burning Qs.
Everyone, meet author and artist Stephanie Watson!
What inspired PENCILVANIA?
The inspiration for Pencilvania was this question: What if everything someone ever drew ended up in one magical place?
I thought a lot about this place before I started writing anything. I imagined what would be in this place. All the little lines and circles you made with baby crayons would be there. So would the self-portraits they make you do in art class at school. And the drawings you doodled over and over in the margins of your notebooks. I was captivated by the idea of a place where all of someone’s drawings would come to life, and be interacting and potentially clashing with one another.
What was your writing process like?
I do my best writing first thing in the morning. I like to write for an hour or two while drinking green tea. That’s how I wrote my first two novels (Elvis & Olive and Elvis & Olive: Super Detectives). But soon after I started drafting what would become PENCILVANIA, I had a baby. If you’ve ever had a baby or even met a baby, you know they need lots of attention and care. When I became a mother, I had to reinvent the way I work on books. I couldn’t always write first thing in the morning, and some days I was so tired from taking care of a little person that I couldn’t write at all. I learned to be more flexible with my writing process, and eek out what time I could. Sometimes that meant writing when my kid was napping, or carrying around notecards to capture ideas when we were at the park, or speaking parts of my story into the voice recorder app on my phone, to type up when I had a spare minute.
Because I was raising a kid on my own while working on this book, it took a lot longer than my other books–10 years start to finish instead of the typical two or three. But I think the book is richer for the slow and steady development. There’s so much of my daughter’s evolving artistic life (and mine!) layered into the book.
What role does art play in your life?
It plays a starring role. If my life were the play Annie, art would Annie. If my life were the Lego Movie, art would be Emmet Brickowski. My goal for many years has been to simply lead a creative life. Sometimes that means I’m writing a book. Sometimes it means I’m drawing or painting or making pickles. I love exploring all the different ways to be creative and make art.
What do you hope readers gain from PENCILVANIA?
I hope readers have as much fun discovering the world of Pencilvania as I had creating it. Also, it would be cool if the story inspires readers to pick up a pencil and start drawing.
What are you currently working on?
Lately, I’ve been working on a few new picture book texts. I’ve also been developing another middle-grade novel that centers around creativity. And I’m knitting a sweater that’s the color of sunflowers.