Most people find it odd that the illustrator and I don't consult each other during the process of creating a picture book. And some find it perplexing when I say that I think it's the best way to make room for magic. Without exception, each of the illustrators of my stories have managed to delight me with their vision of the text.
Kyrsten Brooker's whimsical interpretation of my words makes me smile and as one reviewer put it, "amp up the madcap humor."
Recently I contacted Kyrsten to ask if she would be my first At Home profile on my new blog. Although she was busy planning a trip to Costa Rica, she agreed. Since this was my first contact with her, I join you as we meet Kyrsten Brooker at home.
Where do you live?
I live Edmonton, Canada, in a great community surrounded by ravines and farmland.
Who do you live with?
I live with my husband, John, and two sons, Nicholas (12) and Kieran (9).
Where do you like to work at home and why?
I work in a studio in my basement. I like it because it’s removed from the action of our house , and nobody sees the huge messes I make!
What time of day would we find you there?
When I’m working on a deadline, you’ll find me there very early in the morning – 4 or 5 a.m. I’m my most productive at this time of day, when all is quiet and there are no distractions. I usually work until around 3:00, when my boys come home from school.
Do you listen to music when you work? If so, what kind?
When I’m on the planning and sketch stage of a book, I don’t listen to anything, I need quiet. When I move on to doing the finished artwork, I listen to all sorts of different music, and our public radio station – CBC.
Coffee or Tea?
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee!
Favorite snack while working?
Can’t get crumbs and chocolate thumbprints on my artwork, so I don’t snack while I’m working. When I’m not working, anything salty will do!
How does home feed your work?
To me, home is family. I’m lucky enough to live within 30 minutes of my brother, sisters, parents, and my husband’s family. They are my friends, support system and anchor, without them it would be difficult to work. They are also a huge part of my life experience which I draw upon all the time when creating my illustrations.
What’s around the corner for you?
I’ve just finished the illustrations for a book called Chik Chak Shabbat, by Mara Rockcliff, It’s a wonderful story about celebrating Shabbat, and community. I’m also taking a few printmaking workshops , and would like to start experimenting with using monoprints in my illustration work.
Kyrsten’s collage illustrations have appeared in many award-winning books for children, including The Honeybee Man, a Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the year, and Precious and the Boo-Hag, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book, School Library Journal Best Book of the Year, and a Charlotte Zolotow Honour Book.