When I first reached out to Callie to thank her for her beautiful cover art, I didn't know much besides the fact that she was a Henry Holt editorial intern. Soon, I found out that not only is she interested in breaking into publishing, but she's also an aspiring picture book writer/artist! Read on to find out about the process of making a book cover, why you should always take risks, and what makes picture books so hard to write.
So you just finished up your internship at Holt! How was your first experience with publishing?
I really loved my time at Holt. Everyone was so friendly and I learned so much! It was my first real taste of publishing and I felt reassured that I had picked the right path. Also, getting to work on your cover will always be an unforgettable experience!
Your cover has been the craziest part of a publishing journey that has already had so many crazy parts.
I’m still in shock that they gave my art a chance! I really thought they were just going to politely tell me it was terrible.
How did you even come up with that fantastic cover?
Basically, I was sitting in on the jacket art meeting when they were talking about your cover. Barbara [my editor] explained how you were looking for something unexpected and possibly involving a duck. So I started sketching ducks, which are a lot of fun to draw. Then it popped into my head that maybe picking a duck up by its foot with chopsticks or having a duck upside down in a bowl of duck soup would be surprising. I've always loved surrealism so I take a lot of inspiration from thinking about everyday objects in unconventional ways, like how they might appear in a dream.
After I built up the courage to show Barbara what I had, she said that she would forward them to you. After you had given the go ahead, the art department asked me to make the duck look more serious. I was also told to cut the hand holding the chopsticks, which made the image a bit cleaner. I decided to try watercolor because it’s simple, but allows for me to draw with enough detail that the image wouldn’t look cartoonish. And thankfully they liked it!
I really like this risk-it-to-get-the-biscuit attitude!
I’m not usually the risk-taking type. Like I would never skydive, and I often doubt myself. But in the right environments, I will just take my chances. That's probably why I'm interested in publishing. It's a field where you can be creative, try new things, and take a few risks.
Are you working on any current projects right now?
My current project is getting a job! I’m also working on picture book, but I’m being very secretive about it. I’m afraid to jinx it! I’ve finished the script, but I am just starting the drawings.
What drew you to children’s books in the first place?
I’ve always loved them and I also think they’re surprisingly difficult to do well. A lot of people just think, I'll write a children's book and it will be easy. They seem simple, but there needs to be some hidden magic in them.
What do you think kids are interested in?
I think first of all they want to be entertained. So trying to force a moral because you’re trying to teach them something can be dull. Kids are very observant and curious, but they also have a lot of fears too. I'm not an expert, but I think kids want a story that validates how they feel inside and reassures them everything will be ok. While also being funny or clever.
I feel like you're reminding me what it was like to be a kid! Which is not too different from being an adult actually...
They are similar in a lot of ways.
One last thing: you said that ducks are fun to draw. Why?
Because they're adorable. And they have the cutest butts.