Author/Illustrator Lindsay Ward answers three questions she has always wanted to be asked in this special CBC Website Feature!How has becoming a mother changed your opinion on what makes a great picture book?
Becoming a mom has definitely made me a better writer. Before I had kids, I cared a lot more about the art in a picture book than I did the words. I come from an illustration background, so naturally I gravitated towards strong art when reading a picture book for the first time. Now, because I sit and read with two kiddos every night, the words have become tremendously important to me. I still love the art, and that’s what initially draws me in, but if the story doesn’t hold up to the art, or vice versa, I won’t be adding it to our home library. I see first hand what’s funny, and what’s not. Funny goes a long way with kids, which is probably why my writing in the last three years has become much more humorous and voice driven. Because that’s what my kids like. The joke amongst my friends is that I procreated to get more picture book ideas…and you know what? It worked.
What does a typical day look like working as an author/illustrator?
Both my husband and I work from home, usually in shifts. I work in the morning, while he watches the kids. He works in the afternoon, while I watch the kids. I’m a big believer in the four-hour work day, especially for creatives. Any longer than four hours and I’m totally burnt. I try to reserve those four hours exclusively for writing or drawing. I don’t necessarily write or draw every day, sometimes I’m only writing, or drawing, or editing. It just depends on what my deadlines look like at the time. To some four hours may not seem like a lot of time to get work done, but it makes me incredibly efficient because I have to be. I don’t have time to procrastinate. Every morning, I get up at 5am and work for two hours, until our kids get up at 7am. Then we all go for a family walk with our dog, which for me is a great way to work out any issues I’m having with an idea or illustration. Then we come home, have breakfast together, and I go back to work for another two hours. Our kids usually nap at the same time once a day too, so that’s another two hours I get to take care of emails, do things around the house, or work on our perpetual fixer-upper of a house. Having the kids at home with us all day is both incredibly rewarding and challenging, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
What do you feel is the most important part of your job as an author/illustrator?
To provide possibility. Every kid is capable, creative, and unique. They just need a little help to see what’s possible in the world. The best part of my job is when I visit schools and kids tell me that they want to be a writer or an illustrator. I hope that happens. I hope I see their name on the spine of a book someday. That would be amazing! Maybe they can see, even if only for the hour I spend with them, that they can be successful, happy people who can follow their passion. Maybe that one hour makes all the difference.
About Lindsay Ward
Lindsay Ward was inspired to write this book after her husband texted her a photo of a toy dinosaur abandoned at a doctor’s office. The caption read: “Well, they left me here.” Lindsay thought it was so funny that she sat down to write Dexter’s story immediately. She is also the author and illustrator of Brobarians, Henry Finds His Word, and When Blue Met Egg. Her book Please Bring Balloons was also made into a play.
Most days you can find Lindsay writing and sketching at her home in Peninsula, Ohio, where she lives with her family. Learn more about her online at www.LindsayMWard.com.