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Monday, November 16, 2015

Interview with Emma Chichester Clark, author of Love Is My Favorite Thing

I'm so happy to welcome Emma Chichester Clark, author of the lovely Plumdog Blog and the soon to be published Love is My Favorite Thing, to The Hiding Spot! Emma's picture book, featuring her adorable dog, Plum, are incredibly charming and shouldn't be missed, especially if you're a dog lover.

Can you share the story of the inspiration behind Love Is My Favorite Thing?
The idea to create Plum’s first picture book for children, Love Is My Favorite Thing! came from a blog that I began in 2012 called Plumdog Blog. At the time, my dog, Plum, was about three years old and I had had her since she was an eight-week old puppy. Walking her each day, I found that I spent a lot of time looking at the world through her eyes and a conversation began in my head. She is an ideal dog to draw – very expressive, with her upturned tail and bushy eyebrows - she is close to looking like a cartoon dog without even trying. So I began to write and illustrate her diary and I put it online. 

After a while a publisher took it up and it came out in book form as a graphic novel for adults in 2014 and then it seemed like a good idea to make a children’s version, as children were reading the graphic novel and finding one or two rude words… so I wrote Love Is My Favorite Thing! It doesn’t have any rude words at all. 

The true inspiration for the book is Plum who continues to be just that, and is still blogging, and still worshipped by me. 

Copyright Emma Chichester Clark 2015

Tell us a bit about your writing and illustrating process. Do you begin with the text, a general idea, specific scenes...?
When I am trying to make a picture book I start with a character – or perhaps two characters. Then I think about the story and try to come up with a little adventure. But the adventure isn’t enough because there needs to be a point to it – some kind of lesson to learn perhaps – (which I can see is a good thing but I sometimes wish it wasn’t necessary). 

As soon as I have a vague feeling that I know what the middle and end of the story might be, I start drawing and writing little notes at the same time. I think that if the words and pictures arrive on the page together there’s a chance that I won’t over-write it, and the pictures will be allowed to do more of the work. 

 I make a storyboard- all the pages in miniature on a couple of sheets of A3 layout paper. This is the most important stage for me and once I feel that it’s working, I will enlarge it and redraw until I have roughs I can go to artwork from.

Copyright Emma Chichester Clark 2015
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that has provided you with a hiding spot.
I’ve had many Hiding Spots! As a child I hid in a book that belonged to my parents. It was a book of illustrations by the New Yorker cartoonist, Charles Addams, called Homebodies. It was all in black and white, featuring the Addams Family as well as many other hapless individuals. The drawings were exquisite, each one a little world of light and shadows. I didn’t understand most of the jokes but it didn’t matter. 

Later, I went to boarding school where I spent a lot of time looking at pictures in the books in the library. I discovered Brueghel and Piero della Francesca and Goya – more interesting worlds to escape into. There were lots of other art books and books without pictures, and poetry that created pictures with words- but almost any book can do that. 

But if you are asking for just one book that is a Hiding Place – I can still find refuge in Charles Addams. It’s part nostalgia and part marveling at his invention and humour – which now I do understand.
What can your readers look forward to next?
The next book is a second Plumdog picture book, Plenty of Love to Go Round, where poor Plum is tested by the arrival of a cat next door. The cat takes to Plum in a big way, but she is less certain about him, particularly as he seems to be so clever, and she fears that he is going to replace her in her family’s affections…

Meanwhile, the REAL Plum is still blogging… Plumdog Blog: Come and see!

More About the Book
Starring an enthusiastic pooch whose joy, optimism and love know no bounds, this lively picture book is based on Emma Chichester Clark’s own dog, and joyfully celebrates unconditional love.

Plum has lots of favorite things—catching sticks, her bear, her bed—but really, LOVE is her absolute favorite thing. She loves her family and all the things they do together. Sometimes, however, Plum’s exuberance causes trouble, and she just can’t help being naughty. But fortunately, love is such a great thing that even when she makes mistakes, Plum’s family still adores her.
About the Author
Emma Chichester Clark has written and illustrated numerous picture books, including the Blue Kangaroo series. She grew up in the Irish countryside, where she began making books with sewn-up spines when she was five years old. She studied graphic design and later attended the Royal College of Art. Her first picture book project was illustrating Laura Cecil’s Listen to This!, which won the Mother Goose award for Best Newcomer to Children’s Book Illustration. She lives in West London with her husband, three stepsons, and dog, Plum. 


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