Monthly Archives: August 2012

Acquiring an illustrator

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A question I get asked a lot is, “How did you get your illustrator?” Many people think writers find someone to illustrate their book before they send it off to a publisher. Not true. Unless the writer is also an illustrator, the manuscript will go to an editor as simply text. And unless there’s some part of the text that can’t be understood without explanation, the text will stand alone–no illustration suggestions included. Editors who find a manuscript they like will have their own vision for the book. They’ll have their own ideas of who they’d like to illustrate it and what they hope it will look like in the end.

Here’s an example of how a writer’s vision and an editor’s vision might vary: When I wrote Goodnight, Dragons, I was thinking of a medieval setting.

After all, there are dragons. The horse and wagon I wrote about were, in my mind, a real horse and a farm wagon. But my editor at Disney*Hyperion, Abby Ranger, saw a pretend horse who was really a dog, and a little red wagon.

Close-up of spread from Goodnight, Dragons

Now I think, Of course! Why didn’t I think of that? But in the beginning I was surprised that we imagined such different books.

Abby’s first choice for an illustrator was Pascal Lemaitre. An editor doesn’t always get her first choice. Factors include timing (it takes a long time to illustrate a book, and the illustrator’s schedule may be full), payment, and whether the illustrator is interested in the project. We were fortunate that Pascal was willing and able to illustrate Goodnight, Dragons. I love what he did with it. And it’s also cool to me that he’s international. Pascal was born in Belgium and divides his time between Brussels, Brooklyn and Trouville. I’d love to meet him sometime and say, “Bonjour.”

Pascal Lemaitre, international illustrator

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Eve and Adam

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Time for another poem. This poem was written as part of a project for my “Women in the Bible” class in seminary. It was later published in the magazine, Daughters of Sarah, in the July/August 1991 issue. This page is copied from the book compilation, The Wisdom of Daughters: Two Decades of the Voice of Christian Feminism. Illustrations by Kari Sandhaas.