How did you choose the genre you write in?
When I was thinking about making a career change back into a creative field, all of my friends and family kept telling me I should look into working on children’s books. They all know I have a love of the art style and a long fascination with animated films by Disney and Pixar. It just felt right that the type of art I would create would be made for kids.
Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
Growing up my parents enrolled me in one of those book-of-the-month clubs that was all based on Disney stories. Most of my love for all things Disney came from those books and the illustrations in them that I would practice drawing over and over. I knew most of the famous Disney stories not from their films, but from the book versions of them. It was not until I was older that I started going to the movies to see the films. I still go see them all in theaters to this day. Then I pick up The Art of Book from the film to see all the incredible work that goes into making them. Now that I look back on it, I would say those book-of-the-month club books really did shape the direction of what I wanted to do in life.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I am not sure I can recall the first book that might have made me cry, but I can recall one that did and lives with me today: The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein. It is all about the relationship between a dog and its human, and it really pulled at my heart strings. I have had dogs my entire life and know how strong my bond is to them, and their bond is right back to me. I loved this book even though it made me cry.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have met so many incredible children’s book authors and illustrators as part of the SCBWI. Matthew Cordell was one of the first ones I ever had a chance to meet when he was a rising star in the children’s book world. I was even fortunate enough to have him provide me with a critique of my portfolio. His style of illustration is quite different than mine, yet he was able to provide me with very solid feedback on areas he thought were unique to me that I should focus myself on. I also met Don Tate at an event and have been following and keeping up with him on social media ever since. He seems tireless in his travels not only promoting his work, but in participating in events that foster the minds of newbies and pros alike. These are just two examples. There are so many more.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Start now! I waited so long to stand up for myself and what I have always wanted to do that I am coming at this later in the game. I was in a career that paid well but kept promoting me further and further away from anything creative. Back then I should have spent more time in the evenings and weekends working on my craft. It would have helped me out so much, but I just didn’t see that at the time. It is time that is so precious, so make the most of your own time no matter how small it may seem in the moment.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Joining the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) is the best money I have ever spent as an illustrator and author. Here in Illinois, we have a very active SCBWI network with so many different writing and illustrating groups that the public and members can all attend. I went to my first meeting over five years ago and joined the moment I got home. The volunteer leaders are so open with their knowledge and experience of the industry. Publishing is very tricky. To have mentors and peers all on the same journey helped me tremendously, often in ways I was not even anticipating. Being asked to present at a few meetings led to me becoming more comfortable speaking in front of groups of people. Public speaking has now become a part of promoting book releases, and it is something I truly enjoy. Peers form into critique groups to help each other with manuscripts and book dummies or an illustration for their growing portfolios. The money I spent has been paid back to me many times over in knowledge, friendship and confidence.
What does literary success look like to you?
I think the obvious answer is that it provides me a comfortable life financially. But for me the real success has been when a child creates fan art based on my illustrations. To know that my work has inspired them to pick up a pencil/crayon/marker to draw, just like I did when I was a kid, means I was successful.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Being someone who is probably a bit too analytical most of the time, I definitely do research. Sometimes it is a quick reference check. Other times, it is a deep dive into a subject to make sure I am representing it correctly and know the history of it, or just because I get fascinated by the topic along the way. The internet makes some research much easier, but I still find myself at my local library doing research as well. The research may instead come in the form of going somewhere to experience the sights, sounds and surroundings or talking to others about their experiences and memories related to a topic I am thinking about working on. I enjoy this part of the process.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I’d venture to guess it is the same for many artists and creatives: starting. You know that feeling you get when you pull out a fresh blank piece of paper with the intention of making something great appear on the page. Then, instead, you find yourself staring at that blank page for much longer than you should. Some say it is the endless possibilities that momentarily freeze us. If we had some limits, it would be easier to start. So often I will find myself thinking up some limits. Then I find it much easier to begin.
What do you do when you are not writing?
I am drawing and creating digital art and illustrations. Outside of work-related things, I like to swim, and recently I have been getting outside and riding my bike a lot more. Being on a trail out in nature is really helping me let go of stress and get out of my house (where I live and work).
Social Media Links:
Everything Goes Media’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/EverythingGoesMedia
Lake Claremont Press’ Facebook https://www.facebook.com/lakeclaremontpress/
Lake Claremont Press’ Twitter https://twitter.com/ChicagoPress
Rich Green’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/richgreen21
Rich Green’s Instagram https://www.instagram.com/richgreenart/
Rich Green’s Twitter https://twitter.com/RichGreenArt
Rich Green’s Tumbler https://keepgoinggreen.tumblr.com/
Photographer/ Author Larry Broutman’s Facebook https://www.facebook.com/LarryBroutmanPhotography/