Interview with Anne Sawyer-Aitch, author of Nalah and the Pink Tiger


Nalah and the Pink Tiger is a picture book by Anne Sawyer-Aitch. She drew inspiration for this story from her lively little niece, who lives so intensely in her imagination that grown-ups around her view her as a troublemaker. Things come to a head when – in addition to all the exotic animals that Nalah has “placed” in the house – a pink tiger “follows” her home from the zoo and creates havoc. The story also celebrates the joyful explosiveness of a child’s imagination. To illustrate the book, Anne developed a style which she calls illuminated iIllustration, featuring multiple layers and backlighting that create vibrant, textured pages.


 How long have you been writing?

Since the 3rd grade. I had a teacher named Harriet Asimov, niece of the great Science Fiction writer. She made us learn our multiplication tables, but she also taught creative writing with flair and enthusiasm. We got really groovy-looking notebooks and we had to do a different exercise every day. She'd take us to the park and make us record everything we could hear, see, touch, smell. Or pose wild what-if questions. I can't remember any specific ones right now, but they were things like "What do you think life on other planets looks like? What if you could travel to one - what would you take as a present to represent earth?" She made all of us feel like writers. Since that time, I've had other wonderful creative writing teachers in college and grad school, but Harriet really got the ball rolling. 

Who or what influenced your writing over the years?

I love fiction most of all. Our parents read to us every night when we were kids. But if I had to name one writer, it would be Minnesota-born Maud Hart Lovelace, author of the Betsy-Tacy series. The girl protagonist in that series also aspired to be a writer. The picture books by the D’Aulaires and Wanda Gag made want to create visual art. 
What made you want to be a writer?

Ever since I learned to read and draw, I've been creating stories in my head and making sets for them from the junk drawer. Like most kids, I liked to play make-believe. I just never grew out of the habit. 

Are there any current books that have grasped your interest?

As an adult I read a variety of things, from Young Audience novels (The True Meaning of Smekday); contemporary stories (Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close) and classics. I'm currently reading Queen Margot, by Alexandre Dumas. He's always good for a suspenseful yarn. 
What was the hardest part of writing your book?

The writing piece was not nearly as complicated as the illustration part. The story came to me in the middle of the night after playing with my niece and her imaginary animal friends. I story-boarded it out, and the essential plot stayed the same. It was figuring out how I wanted to illustrate it that took longer. I experimented with different styles for more than a year. Then I started borrowing techniques that I use for making my color shadow puppets. That includes a lot of cut-out patterns to let the light shine through. My husband photographed the illustrations on a light table. 

Did you learn anything while writing your book? If so, what was it?

I learned that it's important not to wait for someone to give you permission to pursue a creative dream. I knew that from being a puppeteer, but I had to learn it all over again when I decided I wanted to create a book. It seemed fantastically out of reach, and it took me some false starts before I got momentum on the project. Some people won't believe you can do a thing until you do it. Then they say, "Oh, you do that." 

Give us three “Good to Know” facts about you. Be creative, you can talk about your first job, something that inspires you, anything fun that might grab the readers attention.

1) I'm a stilt walker, and belong to an all-ladies group called Chicks on Sticks. We've performed at the local girls roller derby, the State Fair, and in parades all over MN.  And the funny part is, I'm afraid of heights. 

2) I have an undying love for Cheetos. It's really out of hand. I can't even keep them in the house. 

3) I once rode on the back of a small Japanese motorcycle from Ohio to Kentucky in the driving rain, wearing tie-dye long underwear, overalls, and a poncho. No helmet. That was pretty idiotic. My present self can't believe my past self did that. Compared to my wild youth, I'm positively stuffy now. 

anne-sawyer-puppets-300ABOUT ANNE SAWYER-AITCH

Anne Sawyer-Aitch (pronounced like the letter “H”) is a puppeteer and stilt-walker. Nalah and the Pink Tiger is her first children’s book. She has worked for years with Minneapolis-based groups In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre and the all-women’s stilting troupe Chicks on Sticks. Anne likes to create all kinds of puppets: parade floats, giant stilt puppets, and intricate color shadow shows. Currently, she is performing her Nalah and the Pink Tiger puppet show in English and Spanish around MN. She is a recipient of awards from the Jim Henson Foundation, the Puppeteers of America, the MN State Arts Board, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. She lives in Minneapolis with her computer genius husband and a pack of imaginary dogs. You can view her website at
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Nalah and the Pink Tiger Virtual Book Publicity Tour Schedule

Tuesday, May 7 - Guest blogging at Bookingly Yours
Wednesday, May 8 - Guest blogging at Shhh...Not While I'm Reading
Thursday, May 9 - Book featured at Jody's Book Reviews
Monday, May 13 - Book reviewed at Library of Clean Reads
Tuesday, May 14 - Book reviewed at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, May 15 - Interviewed at Literal Exposure
Thursday, May 16 - Up Close and Personal at Between the Covers
Monday, May 20- Book reviewed at Shhh...Not While I'm Reading
Tuesday, May 21 - Book reviewed at A Year of Jubilee Reviews
Thursday, May 23 - Interviewed at Digital Journal
Monday, May 27 - Book reviewed at Splashes of Joy
Wednesday, May 29 - Book featured at Book Marketing Buzz
Friday, May 31 - Book reviewed at Hezzi D's Books and Cooks
Monday, June 3 - Book featured at 4 the Love of Books
Wednesday, June 5 - Book reviewed at I'm Shelf-ish
Thursday, June 6 - Book featured at Parenting 2.0
Friday, June 7 - Interviewed at The Writer's Life
Monday, June 10 - Book reviewed at Griperang's Bookmarks
Tuesday, June 11 - Book reviewed at Sincerely Stacie
Wednesday, June 12 - Book reviewed at Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers
Thursday, June 13 - Book reviewed at My Book Addiction
Friday, June 14 - Book featured at Authors and Readers Book Corner
Monday, June 17 - Book reviewed and First chapter reveal at Faerotic Prose
Tuesday, June 18 - Guest blogging at I'm Shelf-ish
Wednesday, June 19 - Book reviewed at My Cozie Corner
Thursday, June 20 - Book reviewed at Sweet Southern Home
Friday, June 21 - Book reviewed at Create with Joy
Monday, June 24 - Interviewed at Examiner
Tuesday, June 25 - Book reviewed at Lighthouse Academy
Wednesday, June 26 - Book reviewed at Blueroses Heart
Thursday, June 27 - Interviewed at Review From Here
Thursday, June 27 - Book reviewed at Thoughts From Mill Street
Friday, June 28 - Book reviewed at Ellis
Friday, June 28 - Book featured at Melissa's Midnight Musings
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