Sunday, November 27, 2022

Q&A with Kristin Wauson




Kristin Wauson is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Mr. Thatcher's House. She is based in Austin, Texas.


Q: What inspired you to create Mr. Thatcher's House, and how did you create your main character, Mr. Thatcher?


A: Mr. Thatcher’s House was inspired by my father-in-law, Steve, who has been remodeling his own house in his spare time for over two decades. He and my husband run our family’s construction business, and one day, there was a discussion over lunch about the magic that can come from combining your passions. 


Later that evening, it occurred to me that nearly every classic story I remembered from childhood had a house problem. What if I created a character who could help? That same night, I quickly wrote out a manuscript and it wasn’t long before Mr. Thatcher made his first appearance in my sketchbook. 


Q: How did you choose the classic tales to incorporate into the book?


A: Once I knew the story was going to be about characters who had been driven from their homes for one reason or another, I began brainstorming stories I remembered from childhood that featured houses. 


Some of them were obvious, like The Three Little Pigs, but with others like Goldilocks and the Three Bears, I had to come up with a reason why the bears would need to abandon their house. 


It turns out, it’s not hard to find, or invent, a house problem for most classic storybook characters: Rapunzel is lonely and bored to tears in that tower; Snow White is tired of cleaning up after all of those men; and even the wolf from The Three Little Pigs needs a place to live after blowing down every house in his neighborhood. If you look on the dedication page of the book, you’ll actually find some of the characters who didn’t make it into the story. 


Q: Did you work on the text or the illustrations first--or both simultaneously?


A: I wrote a draft of the manuscript first. But after that it was a back-and-forth process of revising the words while trying to visually create the world Mr. Thatcher lived in. There are over 30 characters in the story and the house and its interior are pretty elaborate, so it took a while to piece everything together. And during that time, there were many revisions to the manuscript.


Q: The School Library Journal review of the book says, in part, “This charming tale improves on the theme of what makes a house a home with some very familiar characters and one curmudgeonly rabbit.” What do you think of that description, and what do you hope kids take away from the story?


A: I was really pleased with the SLJ review of Mr. Thatcher’s House. To elaborate on the above, the thing that makes a house a home is the family you share it with. And in the case of Mr. Thatcher, it’s found family. I want kids to know that families can be made up of anyone you choose, not just those you are biologically related to. 


But it’s also a story about perfection and letting go of expectations. Mr. Thatcher gets so wrapped up in his goal of making his house perfect that he isn’t able to see the beauty of what’s going on around him. So I hope kids pick up on that and also leave with an understanding that even when things don’t go according to plan, the outcome can sometimes be better than what you imagined.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: Recently, I finished a dummy for a Christmas book that just went out on submission. When I’m working on a book I don’t have time for anything else. Even though I’m doing art every day, I don’t get to play around in my sketchbook, or journal or be inspired. That kind of exploration is really important because it’s often where new story ideas are born. So I’m excited to have a little time to do that and recharge my creative bank account.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I love hearing from people who have read Mr. Thatcher’s House, and getting photos with your kids. Even if you haven’t read it, feel free to reach out to talk about art, or picture books or just to say hi! 


You can find me on social media:






I also have art prints available in my shop:


Thank you so much, Deborah, for inviting me on your blog!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

No comments:

Post a Comment