Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Q&A with Kathy Stinson





Kathy Stinson is the author of the new children's picture book A Tulip in Winter: A Story about Folk Artist Maud Lewis. Stinson's other books include Red Is Best. She lives in Rockwood, Ontario.


Q: Why did you decide to write a children's picture book about artist Maud Lewis (1903-1970)?

A: Maud Lewis’s ability to see the beauty in her everyday world, even in the face of many challenges — her disability, poverty, her husband “as gruff as a billy goat” — is an inspiration to people of all ages. The style of her art has appeal for all ages too. I wanted kids to know about her and her art.


Plus I enjoy writing about remarkable women and beautiful things and Maud Lewis's life gave me the opportunity to do both! 


Q: How did you research her life, and did you learn anything that especially surprised you?


A: I read all I could find online and in as many books as have been written about her that I could get my hands on. I also watched film clips and documentaries in which she was interviewed, and her husband Everett too.  I'd seen the film Maudie when it was released in 2016 and watched it again too. I knew that it had fictionalized some details of Maud’s life but it felt to me true to the spirit of it. 


The most surprising thing I learned had to do with her baby that she was told had died at birth and how she responded when that baby, a grown woman, presented herself to Maud. 


Q: What do you think Lauren Soloy's illustrations add to the book?


A: I was pleased when I was able to tell the story of Maud’s life as well (if I may say so) as I did. So when Lauren captured the details of the Nova Scotia landscape and the essence of Maud’s personality in a style of expression that emulated Maud’s so beautifully, I was thrilled.


It's a wonderful feeling when text and art work so perfectly together. Thanks to Lauren's art, people will be drawn to the book, pick it up, and discover the story that Lauren and I are both so happy, thanks to Greystone, to share with the world. 


Q: What do you see as Maud Lewis's legacy today, and what do you hope kids take away from the book?


A: Maud Lewis lived what many would consider a small life, yet she left behind paintings that will continue to bring joy to people for decades to come. I hope the book will encourage its readers of all ages and kids especially to find beauty in their everyday and to follow their passions whatever their challenges.


Q: What are you working on now?


A: I have two picture books coming out next year for which my only remaining work is to offer feedback on illustrations as they emerge. (At the stage of rough sketches, both were already looking fantastic. I expect I'll see finished art soon!)


I'm currently working on a rollicking tale for our ailing modern day with a timeless sea-faring rhythm. The names of two characters in it have been with me for over 30 years and I'm delighted to have found the perfect story for them.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I am grateful to all who read my books and to folks like you who help spread the word about them!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Kathy Stinson.

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