Author Interview: ‘Chicago Treasure’ by Rich Green

About the Book:

A new hardcover book of photography, illustrations, poetry, and prose that celebrates inclusion and the boundless creativity of children

Chicago has many treasures. The Magnificent Mile and Wrigley Field, wonderful public art and parks, beautiful bridges and skylines. But the true heart and the real treasure of the city are its children. This book is devoted to Chicago’s children. Come along as they travel to worlds within worlds, becoming storybook characters who follow the Yellow Brick Road, sip tea in Wonderland, tame a tiger, live in a shoe, climb a magic beanstalk to bring home a golden-egg-laying hen, turn a frog into a prince, meet fairies and dragons.

Continue as they step into painted canvases to inhabit scenes from other times and places. After climbing down from those framed worlds, they explore the city, high-fiving the victorious Chicago Bears, joining penguins at the theater, and leaping across State Street Bridge aboard African impalas.

The kids are the story. The book is their adventure. Its door swings open. . .

Everything Goes Media / Lake Claremont Press

Reading Nook readers may use coupon code CTBLOG15 for a 15% discount on their entire order at Everything Goes Media so why not take a look! – www.everythinggoesmedia.com

With twenty-five years of experience and a love for books and small-scale enterprise, knowledgeable authors with passion projects, and connecting with readers, we are an independent book publisher forging our own path within the industry establishment. Our books have an initial print run of 2,000 to 10,000, and often reprint. We specialize in choosing nonfiction books for particular audiences, supporting authors’ goals, public outreach, and creative sales and marketing. Our imprints include Everything Goes Media (business, gift, hobby, and lifestyle books), Lake Claremont Press (Chicago and Chicago history titles), Lake Claremont Press: A Chicago Joint (distribution for nonfiction Chicago books), and S. Woodhouse Books (ideas, history, science, trends, and current events titles).

 

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Purchase Links:

Amazon – UK / US

Author/Illustrator Interview:

1: Tell us a little about yourself and what got you in to writing?

I came into writing through my years of working as an illustrator focused on children’s books. I have always been interested in art and drawing, specifically computer graphics, and my style and interests have always been influenced by children’s themes, books and animation. A few years back, I discovered the SCBWI (Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators) and started attending monthly Illustrator Network meetings in the Chicago area. The group and its mentors share a wealth of knowledge on the industry. Along the way, I started to get more and more interested in the idea of writing and illustrating my own stories. I have been working on a few manuscripts and book dummies I am hoping to pitch later this year.

2: Do you have a favourite time and place where you write?

Usually I do most of my work, both writing and illustrating, from my home office. Instead of having a specific time of day I like to work, I find myself most productive on wintery days when the snow is falling and the world looks so calm and peaceful. Plus, one of the stories I am working on is set in winter, so it helped put me in the right mood. My other favorite time to work is on sunny days with temps in the low 70’s where I can have the window open to get the nice breeze and hear cars, people and animals passing by outside. It makes me feel connected to the community even though at that moment I am alone in my office.

3: Where do your ideas come from?

I have learned that both in illustration and storytelling in general the best ideas come from things you know and your own personal experiences. No one can tell those stories better than you, and I think it really connects with the readers much more.

4: Do you have a plan in your head of where the story is going before you start writing or do you let it carry you along as you go?

Since I am generally writing for children’s picture books, I usually have a pretty good sense of where the story is going. You have such a small number of pages and limited number of words, so the key is to focus the story text and fill in the gaps with things unsaid via the illustrations. It is that combination which has me so excited about being both author and illustrator.

5: What genre are your books and what drew you to that genre?

The books I have previously illustrated are by author Amy Logan. Her Girl and Boy With A Cape stories focus on acts of kindness: the idea that a small act of kindness can spread around your neighborhood, town, city, and the world. I really enjoy that positive and inspiring type of story. My latest book, Chicago Treasure by Larry Broutman, John Rabias and me, takes classic storybook, fairytale and nursery rhymes and puts a modern spin on them. The illustrations feature photos of real children as the main characters. Our message is one of access and inclusion for all children, regardless of ability. That is a message I am very proud of, and the response to the book has been wonderful.

6: What dream cast would you like to see playing the characters in your latest book?

Chicago Treasure features real children in the illustrations, so I can say, without a doubt, we have our dream cast for this project already. Each one of these children shine. Many asked if they were going to be stars when they were being photographed by Larry Broutman. Many have since gone on to be featured in TV and newspaper articles about the book, so I would say they are in fact stars!

7: Do you read much and if so, who are your favourite authors?

As an author/illustrator, I think it is pretty much a requirement to read all the time. That may be even more true in the children’s book world, as you need to see what types of stories are being told, what styles of illustration are resonating with art directors and audiences, and so on. I try to make it a weekly routine to head to my local library and check out a handful of children’s books to keep myself informed and inspired.   Being so involved in the SCBWI has afforded me the opportunity to meet so many amazing authors and illustrators. Forming a bond with some of them has really taken my love of their books to a new level. Matthew Cordell is high on that list. I even had the honor of getting a portfolio review by him several years ago, and now he is a Caldecott medal winner for his incredible wordless picture book Wolf in the Snow. Another favorite of mine is Don Tate who has authored and/or illustrated several incredible books and is the kindest, most humble guy. I find that so inspiring.

8: What book/s are you reading at present?

Two of my fellow SCBWI-Illinois friends, Doug Cenko and Alex Willan, just had new books released. I am anxiously awaiting my copies, so I can check them out. Doug’s book, My Mama is a Mechanic, is a follow up to his wonderful My Papa is a Princess. Alex’s book, Jasper & Ollie, is his debut author/illustrated picture book. It was just released earlier this week. It’s always exciting to see your friends/peers have their breakthroughs.

9: What is your favorite book and why?

I recently read the children’s book The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt, and I absolutely love it. It is so clever and imaginative. It is a children’s book that is written for the adult reading the book to a child as much as it is for the child. That is my current favorite for sure.

10: What advice would you give for someone thinking about becoming a writer?

“Do great work and be great to work with.” I think most of us work really hard at giving our best when it comes to our craft, and that is important. But equally, if not even more important, is to be someone who is also great to work with. That means being upbeat and a positive personality when interacting with others. It means meeting deadlines and making the process go smoothly for all involved in your projects. It is such simple advice but very effective. I share it with everyone, as it’s a small world, and being known as someone that is good to work with will definitely take you places.

One other saying I rely on is “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” This is so true in all aspects in life. Sometimes you have to say yes to a concept or project before you even really know how you are going to complete it. Say yes to chances and opportunities, even if they scare you (For many writers and illustrators public speaking comes to mind). Stepping outside your comfort zone is certainly scary at first, but you never know where it will lead and how much it will enrich your life along the way!

11: What are the best Social Media Sites for people to find out about you and your work?  

You can find me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/richgreenart, Twitter: @richgreenart and Instagram: @richgreenart or my website www.richgreenart.com

About the Author/Illustrator:

Illustrator Rich Green is a former Disney intern, a computer graphics professional, and the illustrator of several popular children’s books. Although he works mostly digitally, he also enjoys putting pencil to paper and brush to paint. His artworks can be found in regional galleries. Rich lives in Joliet, Illinois, with his faithful dog, Annie.

About the other Author and Illustrator:

Larry Broutman

Since the 1990s, Larry Broutman has traveled the world over to capture the perfect photograph and has found his hometown of Chicago to have a plethora of visual inspiration. Broutman has been interviewed by high-profile television programs, radio shows, newspapers, and art magazines to discuss his critically-acclaimed photography books Chicago Eternal, Chicago Monumental, and Chicago Unleashed. Chicago Monumental has won a Midwest Book Award for best interior design and an IPPY (Independent Publisher) Award in the Great Lakes Nonfiction category.

His photography projects include work with Lincoln Park Zoo, Africa Geographic, BBC Wildlife, Children’s Memorial Hospital Clinic, and The Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. Broutman was a finalist in Africa Geographic magazine’s Photographer of the Year contest.

Broutman attended MIT where he received his S.B., S.M., and doctorate degree in the field of Materials Engineering and Science in 1963. Specializing in Polymer Engineering and Science and Composite Materials, Broutman has vast experience writing college textbooks, reference books, and technical articles. In fact, he was inducted into the Plastics Hall of Fame.

John Rabias

Teacher and magician John Rabias works in digital illustration and post-production imaging and has taught computer graphics at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for over twenty years. When not working on screen, John paints in oil. He lives in Chicago with his Gibson Les Paul and Fender Stratocaster.

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