Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Q&A - Patricia Keeler

Patricia Keeler

1. Any Good news?

Yay! I've signed a two-picture book deal with Sky Pony Press, Both books will be published in 2017.

In LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, Lizzie loves her flip-flops. They go shuffle-shuffle across the rug, smack-smack on the floor tiles, and thwap-thwap down the stairs, as Lizzie drags Lou Seal, her blow-up toy, to the beach. But beach fun turns to beach disaster when Lizzie loses her flip-flops and Lou Seal is losing air.

In the second, UNTITLED book, the little ice cream truck has seen a lot of summers. He parks on a quiet street to nap. BOING! A red ball bounces against him. Spunky is ready to play! The little ice cream truck is game, but competition for Spunky's attention leads to circuit overload. Is there a way to transform this situation?

2.  What is your picture book process?

Thumbnails never work for me. I illustrate actual size from the get-go. I have an 8 foot bulletin board where I post pages as I go.

I start by sketching the main characters with a black colored pencil. I begin anywhere in the story where the main characters are showing a lot of emotion. Then I skip around the story looking for other personality traits of that character. Eventually I do turnaround sketches--front, back and side--to make sure I understand what my character looks like. Next I add backgrounds.

Then I get a coffee and one of those chocolate cookies from Starbucks, and study the pages to reimagine which images would be stronger by replacing the sketched characters or backgrounds with graphic elements.

For example, in the ice cream truck book, the truck breaks down and his ice cream melts. There are lots of pages of the ice cream truck, so I covered half the page with dripping chocolate and placed children with melted ice cream underneath. The truck is not visible, but the meaning is clear.

In LIZZIE AND LOU SEAL, the beach is replaced with an oversized, looming conch shell. The fact that they are small next this huge shell adds drama.   

3. Have you been to any interesting children's book events?

Climbing the stairs to the New York Library at night for a gala event felt magical. My husband, Francis McCall, and I had published a photo book called A HUGE HOG IS A BIG PIG with Greenwillow/HarperCollins, 2002. This earned us an invitation to Susan Hirschman's celebration of her brilliant career.

The stars were out, literally, as each author and illustrator was given a blue star to wear. When the stars were lit, we realized how many children's book luminaries were in attendance, and what a pretty light they all made. There was music, a man who typed your life story on a card, and a circus! The performers moved through the crowd creating their acts for talents like Vera B. Williams and Jack Prelutsky. At the end of the night, we all stood on the front steps of the library and watched Susan Hirschman disappear down 42nd Street in a horse drawn carriage. It was a perfect farewell to the founder and amazing Executive Editor of Greenwillow Books. 

4. What is your favorite yummy?

5. Who are your creative influences?

My crew! Thanks, guys!

Facebook friend me at:  PatriciaKeelerBooks
Follow me on Twitter: @patriciakeeler
or pass me wandering the back alleys in Hoboken

represented by Liza Royce Agency


  1. m-m-m-m grilled swift. Love the shot of your studio. I now have bulletin board envy.

    1. Thanks! I've used that board so much I probably should replace it. The push pins are falling out!

  2. Amazing Studio! Thanks for sharing!

  3. Hi Lexi! Thanks so much for commenting! I do like my studio, and my view of the street!

  4. Grilled Swift? Where did that come from?? Love the studio shot but my fav...the graffiti!

  5. Grilled Swift?? That looks illegal! The books on the other hand look gorgeous - congratulations!