Fairy Houses’ sounds to me like a great project for kids to do. Where did the idea come from?
There are several islands off the Maine coast where there is a tradition of building fairy houses out of pieces of nature. Several years ago I visited Monhegan Island and saw my first fairy houses and it was there in Cathedral Woods where the inspiration for Fairy Houses originated.
Did you have a little girl in mind when you were writing the book?
When I started building my own fairy house I was transported back to my own childhood at about age seven. I spent all my free time in a meadow bordered by a small woods next to our house. I was completely fascinated by the mysteries of nature’s plants, animals and their habitats. I suppose the girl in the story is me at that age. If someone had introduced me to fairy houses I would have built a whole village of them.
Actually, it was the children’s video, “Kristen’s Fairy House, that won the award. It was made first, and was based on my book concept. Friends had started a company to produce quality videos for children and they loved my story. We then expanded upon the story and produced the video on what one reporter described as “a budget Steven Spielberg would use for a coffee break!”
The video was very much a grass roots production. I played myself as an artist creating a children’s picture book. A friend’s daughter played my niece, who was building the fairy house that inspired me to create the picture book. The success of the video made it an easy decision for the company to continue publishing the Fairy Houses Series.
What did you use to draw the pictures for Fairy Houses?
I use Prismacolor pencils as they are soft enough to blend like pastels on a good quality paper while allowing you to also create detail. I often block in large areas of the paper I have lightly sketched with watercolor washes to establish the color theme of the page. Then I work the colored pencils over it sometimes leaving areas of the soft washes showing in the muted backgrounds. I have given workshops on the process of creating a children’s picture book and the technique I use with the colored pencils to do the illustrations.
When did you know you were gifted with these wonderful talents for drawing and writing?
I think of myself as an artist and always remember the enjoyment of drawing animals as a child. In the fifth grade friends would ask me to draw things for them and by fifteen I knew I wanted to go to Art College .