Author Interview: Miri Leshem-Pelly Author of Scribble & Author



Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).

Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.

Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.

Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.

Her latest book is Scribble & Author.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

The starting point for writing my picture book Scribble & Author, was, what else, Scribbles! I scribbled on the page, looking for a new character, not knowing where it would lead me. And suddenly - there she was, my Scribble. I immediately fell in love with her. Next, I started wondering what does Scribble want? What is she looking for? So I decided to ask her, and guess what - Scribble answered! That’s how the story begun to unfold, and I decided to build the story around a dialogue
between the character and the author who’s creating her.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Some people think that it is easy and fast to write a picture book, but they are wrong. It is very hard to get it right. It took me two years to write and illustrate this book. I’ve sent my character, Scribble, on many different journeys and adventures, over and over again. I created book dummies with rough sketches many times, before I came up with the final story which finally worked well. So my tip would be: Patience and persistence. Stop looking for shortcuts. Creating a good story may take a long time, even if it’s a short one.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

When I finished writing the story, I started looking for an agent. I don’t like the self-publishing option. I think that traditional publishers create more professional books, and that they know what they are doing. I know that it is very hard to get your manuscript accepted by a publisher, and many publishers today accept submissions only through agents. Therefore, I decided to look for an agent. I did a lot of research and sent submissions to many agents and finally signed up with Anna Olswanger from Olswanger Literary Agency - who is the best agent I could wish for! After that, it was a very fast process. My agent found a publishing house for my book - Kane Miller Books, and I’m thrilled to be working with them. They are very professional and also super kind, and they have a very unique marketing strategy.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?


Scribble & Author is not my first book. I have published 13 children’s books before this one. But it is my first book published in the U.S.A.! All my previous books were published in Israel, where I live. It was a long time dream of mine to publish a book with an American publishing house, and it took me years to study the American market and understand how it works, before I finally took the step of submitting to American agents. To learn about the American market of children’s books, I joined SCBWI (society of children’s book writers & illustrators) and now I’m the Regional Advisor of the Israeli chapter of SCBWI. I participated in several conferences by this organization in NY and LA. But even after all the preparations, it was still amazing when it finally happened. I think it still surprises me that I can sit and create stories in my studio in Israel, and have young readers enjoy them on the other side of the ocean. This is the beauty of our global world today.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’m still in first stages of developing a new story, not yet in a stage where I could share anything. As I said before, these things take time.

Q: What’s one fact about your book that would surprise people?

I wanted to give the readers a feeling that they witness the creation process of the story as they read it. Therefore, in the art of this book I decided to combine water color drawings, with photos of real objects, which are found on the illustrator’s desk. In order to do that, I took my drawing tools (pencil, brush, sharpener etc.) to a photographer studio. It was very funny to watch the photographer (who did a great job) from the side. For example, he had built around a table a whole set of projectors and umbrellas, then he climbed on a ladder to take the perfect shot of… my used eraser!

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

First of all I wanted my book to be entertaining and fun to read. But also I demonstrated in the book the power of creativity and positive thinking which could help solving  problems. I hope that watching how Scribble overcomes her fears and finds surprising, creative solutions, would inspire young readers to use their own imagination and creativity to achieve their goals.
  
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?


Thank you very much for hosting me for this interview! It was a pleasure. I think we all, adults and children alike, need some more room for imagination and creativity in our lives. If you have small children, find the time to sit and read with them. This is one of the best things you can do for them as a parent. You won’t regret it.
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