I had the pleasure of getting to know Susan Eaddy at a recent event for Children’s Environmental Health Day and can’t WAIT for you to meet her too.
Plus a #Halloween book + repurposing + imagination = win-win-win!
Check out this STARRED KIRKUS review:
Deciding what to wear for #Halloween can be tough.
“Eenie meenie Halloweenie”—so many choices. That’s what the kid in this bouncy rhyming charmer faces. There are so many things to dress up as, and the costumes can be made with just a little ingenuity and a few props.
…The book’s rollicking verses zip along with lively good cheer, abetted by delightful, energetic, colorful illustrations…”
Q 1. Congratulations on your STARRED review for EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE! What inspired you to write this adorable book?
Susan Eaddy: Thank you Erin! I was stunned and thrilled. The idea actually came years ago when I was showing my portfolio to an art director at Scholastic. She saw one of my Halloween illustrations and suggested that I write a non-scary book about Halloween. So I did. It wasn’t that great. I had quite a few discouraging critiques on it. But I noodled with it over the years, finally found the title and the perfect rhyme. When my agent asked if I had a Halloween book, Voila! The manuscript and the timing were finally right and Harper Children’s picked it up.
Q 2. They say every book is a bit autobiographical in some way. Are you more like the character in EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE or Poppy from POPPY’S BEST PAPER and POPPY’S BEST BABIES (Illus. Rosalinde Bonnet / Charlesbridge)?
Susan Eaddy: Ha! I am definitely like Poppy in Best Paper. I fight procrastination, and distraction. Cleaning or cat petting never looks so good as when I have a deadline I SHOULD be working on. Like Poppy, I have lots of different interests, I ALWAYS think I can do it all. I fool myself into thinking this project will be easy. NOT. Every project is always much more work than I expect it to be. That is the shadow side of being an optimistic dreamer.
Q 3. What surprises did the illustrator, Lucy Fleming, bring to your book?
Susan Eaddy: Well, I’m an illustrator too and I always make an illustrated book dummy for my books. One huge surprise is that the publisher actually showed the dummy to Lucy, and I saw the influence of my dummy in many of the final pages!
Susan Eaddy: As my editor said “We’re so glad that we were able to honor your vision, along with having Lucy’s charming and unique paintings.” I was glad too, and even happier that Lucy’s adorable character and vibrant settings enhanced the book in so many ways.
Q 4. How has your career as an Art Director (*with a Grammy nomination* Fun fact: She lost to Madonna!) influenced your work as a picture book author?
Susan Eaddy: One of the best lessons I learned an Art Director in the music business was not to be intimidated by big names (hard for a shy person!) and to work with as many top-notch professionals as I could. There is always so much to learn. But also… I found that life is too short to work with unkind or toxic personalities. That carries over into all aspects of art & life now. I try to surround myself with people who are great at what they do, are much better than me in writing and illustrating, and are also kind and honest.
Q 5. I’m so jealous that you’re part of the SCBWI Bologna team! Can you tell us what that international event is like?
Susan Eaddy: This is a bit of a convoluted story. Bologna Children’s Book Fair is a HUGE trade fair, with publisher booths from all over the world, large & small, ALL children’s books, and it is primarily for making connections to secure foreign rights on books. It is also a showcase for illustrators & while there you see cutting edge art from all over the world.
Going to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair had long been on my bucket list. In 2012 I discovered last minute, that one of my illustrations had been chosen for the SCBWI art showcase, and with the help of a flight attendant friend’s buddy pass I decided to just GO. I traveled alone, knew no one, but did let the International SCBWI Regional Advisor know I would be there. The SCBWI booth became my home away from home. I helped out in the booth and 2014 found me back again. Again, I helped out, and before I knew it, I was asked to help with designing a new booth and I found myself on the Team. The SCBWI has expanded that booth and the membership benefits to include a juried Bologna Illustration Gallery, a manuscript contest for the Dueling Illustrator’s Competition, and face-to-face portfolio and manuscript critiques with Art Directors & editors. The connection to the world-wide community has been life changing.
Q 6. As the Regional Advisor of SCBWI Midsouth, I’m sure you see a lot of manuscripts from those just starting out. Are there any tips you can share with pre-pubbed writers and illustrators?
Susan Eaddy: I think the main tip and one that many don’t want to hear, is that this business is a marathon, not a sprint. If writing for children is truly your passion, you won’t be able to stop yourself from hacking away at it even while you collect many rejections along the way. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve grown discouraged and flirted with quitting… but before I know it, I am back revising a manuscript or illustration.
And to get you through those discouraging times, you need to find your people. I have found ALL of my best writing & illustrating buddies through the SCBWI. I go to conferences and take craft classes and am ALWAYS trying to up my game. I get inspiration & solace & honesty from my critique groups, and I learn SO much when I critique their work as well. We cry on each other’s shoulders and cheer each other on!
A sample of Susan Eaddy’s darling clay art from her website portfolio.
Click here to view more.
Q 7. What new projects are you working on now?
Susan Eaddy: I’m so excited to be illustrating a new book in clay! Joy-Jordan Lake is the author & the release date is Fall 2021. I am scrambling to get the work done on deadline! I’m also working on a cover and interior spread in clay for BabyBug magazine.
Ahem…since my new picture book,
(Harper Collins/ Illus. Luisa Uribe)
comes out in FIVE WEEKS–
Here’s one more question:
Q. 8 If the main character in EENIE MEENIE HALLOWEENIE could write EARTH a letter, what would it say?
Susan Eaddy: Oooh I love this book so much! And my main character has so much in common with the kids in Room 5! Here’s her letter:
Happy Halloween! I am recycling cardboard to make a great suit of armor. I’m going to be a lady knight who fights for the earth! I even made a cardboard helmet and found some bird feathers on the ground to use as a decoration on top. The October days are getting colder, but I always wear a sweater at home because we keep the thermostat low to save energy.
Susan Eaddy: Thank you Erin, for inviting me on to your blog! I am honored to join the roster of your amazing Author and Illustrator friends!
Thank YOU, Susan.
Have a SAFE, fun Halloween, friends.
Next up, we’ll chat with Gretchen McLellan about her book, NO PARTY POOPERS!