Wednesday, May 3, 2023

Q&A with Corinne Demas



Corinne Demas is the author of the new children's picture book Once There Was. Her many other books include The Perfect Tree. She is a professor emerita at Mount Holyoke College, and she lives in Massachusetts.


Q: What inspired you to write Once There Was?


A: I was inspired by my own dreams and daydreams—some remembered from childhood--and the dreams of children I know. I was also inspired by the idea of using that classic opening, Once There Was, and creating a story where the ending circles around back to the beginning.


Q: What do you think Gemma Capdevila’s illustrations add to the story?


A: One of my great pleasures of being a picture book author is I get to see the story I wrote turned into visual art. My picture books are always a two-person enterprise. (For more about this, see my exhibit “The Making of a Picture Book, the Marriage of Art and Text”


Gemma Capdevila’s illustrations for Once There Was are lush and gorgeous. They incorporate the images of nature I was working with: the tree, the moon, the sea, and they have a touch of whimsy, which is just right for the tone of my story.


In one of the illustrations, for example, little folded paper boats—the kind kids would make—are sailing in the waves, along with whales and dolphins and a mysterious sea creature. The illustrations, like the story, are designed to delight not just children, but also adults who can still connect with the child within themselves.

Q: The Kirkus Review of the book called it “A magical tale that comes full circle, urging readers to dream big.” What do you think of that description?


A: I love it! The word “magical” is perfect, since dreams, themselves, are magical, and it takes a bit of magic to shape a story so it comes around full circle. I’m grateful to this reviewer for understanding that my hope is that my story will inspire readers to “dream big.”


Q: How did you choose the entities to include in the story?


A: The entities in the story came from things that children often dream about: wishing they were a princess or prince, playing with the idea of being transformed into an animal, like a horse, or something even wilder, like a tree or a mountain. The beauty of writing about dreams is how freeing it is; you let your imagination soar, and the images just tumble out.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: As soon as I turned in the final edits for my novel for adults, The Road Towards Home, which comes out June 1, I plunged into a new one. That’s what happens with writers: you hate to say goodbye to the characters who’ve been inhabiting your life for a few years, so you come up with new ones to keep you company.


I’m also working on several new picture books, including a few with my daughter, Artemis Roehrig, who’s the co-author of five of my books.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: It’s a delight to be out in the world again. I recently did my first in-person school visit in three years (yikes!) and got to meet with around 250 kids face to face, and it was joyful. At the end of one of my classroom talks the kids rushed up to me holding out paper and pens and asking for my autograph, as if I were a celebrity. That does not happen on Zoom!


Artemis and I had two picture books that came out right at the start of the pandemic: The Grumpy Pirate (illustrated by Ashlyn Anstee) and Do Jellyfish Like Peanut Butter:Amazing Sea Creature Facts (illustrated by Ellen Shi), and all our in-person events were canceled. Fortunately the books are both still in print, and we’re looking forward to giving them their moment in the sun.


I’ll be doing a number of book events for Once There Was. Check out the events page on my website, and if you’re in the area please stop by and say hello.


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Corinne Demas.

No comments:

Post a Comment