Megan Wagner Lloyd and Michelle Mee Nutter are the author and illustrator of Allergic, a new middle grade graphic novel for kids. Megan Wagner Lloyd lives in the Washington, D.C., area, and Michelle Mee Nutter is based in Boston.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for Allergic, and for your character Maggie?
MWL: Like Maggie, I'm allergic to animals with fur or feathers. When I started visiting schools to share my picture books, I found that kids were really interested in this fact about me--and a lot of kids had allergies of their own. It made me think there might be a place for a book that dealt with the difficulties of living with allergies. In creating Maggie, I wanted to make a character who was full of love and enthusiasm, but who struggled to figure out how to translate that into the realities of her everyday life.
Q: How did you create the illustrations for the book?
|Michelle Mee Nutter|
MMN: For most of my work, I use a mixture of traditional and digital mediums. To start, I sketched the whole book with pencil and then scanned everything to ink and color digitally. That process helps me think on the page and I always love the energy initial sketches have and I try my hardest to keep that feeling at all stages. Allergic was my first graphic novel, so my process was always changing until I found what felt right.
Q: What do you hope kids take away from the story?
MWL: I hope kids are inspired by Maggie's resiliency. And that kids with allergies will feel a little more seen and understood, and those without will understand a bit more about the challenges of living with allergies.
MMN: I hope kids will see themselves or someone they know in our characters. Representation matters so much and I hope kids who have allergies see themselves in Maggie’s story and those who don’t, can see a new perspective.
Q: What first got you into creating children's books?
MWL: When I was 8 years old, I wrote in my Little Mermaid diary that I wanted to write books for kids when I grew up. And I just kept writing! I wrote my first novel in 2004 (it was awful), and, after many, many practice manuscripts, my first book, a picture book called Finding Wild, came out in 2016.
MMN: When I was a kid, books always felt so magical, especially Christmas books. I started drawing because I was so inspired by other people’s art and never stopped. I think I’ve always wanted to illustrate children’s books, even when I was scared to admit it.
Q: What are you working on now?
MWL: Michelle and I are making another graphic novel together! (It isn't a sequel to Allergic; it's a standalone.) We can't wait to share more about it in the future!
MMN: Megan and I are working on another graphic novel and I’m so excited. More to come on that soon!
Q: Anything else we should know?
MWL: Thanks for spotlighting us and Allergic! We are so excited for everyone to read it.
MMN: Thanks so much for featuring Allergic and I can’t wait for readers to step into Maggie’s world.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb