Sunday, February 5, 2023

Q&A with Evan Turk


Photo by Tate Tullier



Evan Turk is the author and illustrator of the new children's picture book Hello, Moon. His other books include A Thousand Glass Flowers.


Q: What inspired you to create Hello, Moon?


A: I was first inspired by something my husband, Chris, said one night about how it was “hard to catch a new moon,” which I just thought was a great phrase. So I started working on ideas about intentionally going out to find the new moon. I liked the idea that a new moon offers a brighter view of the rest of the night sky, and I liked the idea of a parent trying to impart that idea to a child.


While working through various iterations of the story, my nephew, Graham, who is now about 3 and a half, had started having an obsession with the moon as well. It’s such a magical presence in the sky, and I love that people of all ages are drawn to its mystery. So as the story started to come together, I really wrote it with my nephew in mind.


Q: How did you create the illustrations for the book?


A: The illustrations were all created with gouache, which is an opaque watercolor. But for the outdoor scenes, I wanted something that could really capture the majesty and grandeur of the night sky, so I used marbling inks to create a swirling background for the night sky scenes.


The skies get gradually more and more purple as the moon gets darker, until the new moon appears and there is a swirling celestial landscape of pinks, purples, and blues.


I based the story in a slightly reimagined version of the town my brother, sister-in-law, and nephew live in, Buena Vista, Colorado. So the house and the landscape are based off of their home.


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book says, “Turk interweaves three elements with skill and care: a slow, thoughtful examination of a commonplace yet miraculous phenomenon; rich language in which to discuss it; and color and texture that capture the infinite reaches of the night sky and the bond shared by a close-knit adult and child.” What do you think of that description?


A: I think that is a wonderful description, and I’m honored to read it! I think they got what I was trying to do with the story and with the illustrations.


Q: What do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: I hope kids will take away a bit of appreciation for the moon, and maybe go out and take notice of it more often (particularly the new moon). I also hope some kids will take away the message that we are always worth appreciating, even when we don’t feel we are at our best.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have two books coming out this year, so although the illustrations are done, I’m working on getting ready for those launches!


The Red Tin Box, written by the wonderful Matthew Burgess, comes out from Chronicle in April. It is a beautiful story about memory and love between generations.


I also have To See Clearly: A Portrait of David Hockney, which I wrote and illustrated, which comes out in September of this year! David Hockney is one of my favorite artists, and as one of the earliest and most prominent out gay artists, I wanted to pay tribute to him. He has an incredible career over 60 years, so tackling that as an illustrator was an exciting challenge.


Right now, I’m starting work on a book called A Forest Song, written by Kirsten Hall, which is an ode to poetry and nature that will be out in 2024.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Evan Turk.

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