Marianne Dubuc is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Your House, My House. Her other books include Mr. Postmouse's Rounds and Up the Mountain Path. She is based in Montreal.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Your House, My House?
A: Casterman, the publisher, wanted me to make another book with tons of details like the Mr. Postmouse series I have been doing with them for a few years.
They actually would have liked me to make another Postmouse book, but I felt that the first three books were good and that I would be repeating myself if I were to try to make a fourth one. (I am not saying it will NEVER happen, but for now I don’t feel I have the right idea for another Mr. Postmouse adventure - except, maybe, a Christmas one some day!).
So we were looking for ideas for a new book, and Casterman suggested a book about a house and its tenants.
I felt there were already a lot of books showing what goes on in a house throughout the day, so I was looking for a way to make such a book but with a new twist. And then I came up with the idea of having the text tell the story of only ONE of the families in the house, the Rabbits. The reader can (and must) create the story of the other families as he pleases.
Q: Did you work on the text first or the illustrations first, or both simultaneously?
A: When I write a book, I usually start with a very simple story written in main events, then draw the whole book. After the images are set, I go back and write the actual text that is in the printed book. I like to go back and forth so I can take out some text so the illustration tells the story, or the opposite, leave an image with opened interpretation so the text can say a bit more.
For Your House, My House I worked on the images at first, since I knew that most of the story would be told in these illustrations full of details. Once I had roughly drawn the whole book, I worked on both text and images to make it work. As I tried to add the text, I had to make changes in the drawings and I would go back and forth from this point.
That’s the benefit of being both author AND illustrator, you get to control everything and to make changes easily.
Q: What first got you interested in creating children's picture books?
A: I have always wanted to make children’s books. As a little girl, I would always bring my pencils with me everywhere. Drawing was my favorite activity from as long as I can remember.
I have been wanting to do this for a very long time, and I am amazed by the fact that I actually am a children’s book author and illustrator. (You can see a video of me at 10 years old here: http://mariannedubuc.blogspot.com/2014/10/les-origines.html)
I had the chance to meet my husband Mathieu when I was in university studying graphic design. At that time I didn’t really think I could be a children’s book author, I just didn’t know how to do it. Being an illustrator himself, he encouraged me to keep drawing and to find my own style. After winning an illustration contest, a publisher offered me to make a book with them. That is how it all started.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
A: I never really have a precise intention with a book. I like to leave a lot of space for the reader so they can interpret the story as they want. Maybe that is what I want the kids to take away from the story: to have fun and to be engaged in the reading.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished a new book (I don’t have a title yet!) that will be out in the fall. It is a story I wrote after losing many close friends and family. It is the story of Bear, who hears a whisper in the trees that tells him it is time to travel and find a new home. He then embarks on a quiet and peaceful journey where he discovers that sometimes the leaves (and life) take you where you are supposed to go.
I also made another book with Casterman in March (same size as Your House, My House) that will be out in July (French edition). It is a book about a day in kindergarten throughout the animals’ schools. Another big book with tons of details!
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I love to bake cakes!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb