A Bookish Conversation with Miri Leshem-Pelly
photographer: Efrat Shine, www.studio-shine.co.il
Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.
Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.
Her latest book is Scribble & Author.
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Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Miri! Can you tell us where you are from?
I live in Israel. My new book Scribble & Author is the first picture book that I publish with an American publisher, but in Israel I have already 13 children books published in Hebrew.
Q: How did you come up with your title?
My book is written as a dialogue between an author and his character, who is a scribble that the author is drawing. So Author & Scribble seemed like a natural choice for a title, which introduces the two characters and (hopefully) creates some curiosity.
Q: They say you can judge a book by its cover. Can you tell us a little about your cover and who designed it?
I’m also the illustrator of this picture book, so I illustrated the cover image. It shows an unfinished illustration (part of it isn’t colored), and it even shows the pencil which draws the picture (the pencil is a photograph). That gives the reader a feeling of witnessing the moment of creation. In a way this is a book about creating a book…
Q: Can you tell us something about your book that would make me run out and buy it?
What would happen if an author could talk with his character? And what if the character doesn’t want to follow the story line? Who really gets to tell the tale? If you’re curious to know what happens when an author interacts with his character – Scribble & Author is the book for you! (and your kids!)
Q: Are there any messages in this book that you want the reader to know about?
The book carries an empowering message for the young readers, when they see that the main character, Scribble, doesn’t give up. She faces many obstacles on her journey but she continues, because she wants to get her wish – a friend. Her solutions for the problems are very creative and surprising, and encourage to use your creativity and imagination in order to get what you wish for.
Q: What was your most favorite chapter to write and why?
Scribble & Author is a picture book for children, so it doesn’t have chapters. But my favorite part in the creation process was when I had an idea for the ending. I wanted the ending to be surprising, heart warming and satisfying. I came up with many optional endings, but when I came up with this idea (I’m not telling!) it felt so right. Suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle of the story came to their place and the whole story made sense. That was a great feeling.
Q: Why did you feel you had to write this book?
When I came up with the idea to write a story about an interaction between an author and his character, it made me very curious. I wondered where it could lead me. The idea sat in my mind and wouldn’t let go. It took me a very long time to work on this short picture book – almost two years of writing and illustrating. It led me to think deeply about the relationships that I, as an author, have with my characters, and about the creative process of writing a story. The final book is very funny and entertaining, but it also explores all kind of thoughts about creativity, imagination and stories.
Q: Now, some fun questions – What deep dark secret would you like to share with us?
Ooooh, the dark secrets!
I’m not sure if that counts as “dark” but I could share that it took me many submissions and many rejections to finally find an agent for this book. Then – some more rejections until my agent found a publisher. So if you’re writing and dreaming to get published – you should know that it has some dark moments and it isn’t easy, but it could happen!
Q: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I would love to go to the Galapagos islands! This is a dream of mine. I love nature and wild animals and this is one of the last places on earth where you can still see the nature at its glory. Most of my previous books are about nature.
Q: Are you a morning person or a night person?
I love mornings! Morning for me carries a promise of a something new. I feel fresh and ready to go. Definitely a morning person.
Q: Are there any members in your family who also like to write?
Not really, I can’t think of anybody in my family who writes. But My mother is a very passionate reader. She loves books! I grew up surrounded by books and I loved reading ever since I was little. I’m sure it influenced me and inspired me to write.
Q: As a child, were you a dreamer?
Sure, I was a dreamer. I loved to day dream and sore with my imagination. Truth is, I still am…
Q: Last but not least, the magic genie has granted you one wish. What would that be?
Sorry for the cliche, but I would say peace on earth, and harmony between men and nature. That’s all.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview! Do you have any final words?
Thank you for interviewing me. It’s been a pleasure!