A Mini-Interview with Miss Molly Idle

The questions just keep comin' folks! As part of the Mini Interviews and Giveaways- being co-hosted by Juana Martinez Neal, Laura Jacobsen and myself, I get the immense pleasure of picking the brain of the abundantly talented and experienced children's book writer and illustrator Molly Idle.  But she may argue in regards to a recent Twitter tweet that her brains are not even zombie worthy of nibbling but I reason to guess humility makes up for a large portion of her frontal lobe so I've come prepared with questions (and a spoon) and am ready to dig in!

A little snippet about Molly Idle...

Molly Idle is a children’s book author / illustrator, Mom, Mrs. and (not coincidentally) java junkie. To learn more about Molly you can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and her website: www.idleillustration.com
1. Once you decided illustration was the career for you, what were the first steps you took to achieving your goal?
I did a few things simultaneously...
1. I joined SCBWI (The Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators).
2. I purchased a copy of the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market.
3. I quit my job.
In retrospect,  I probably should have just done the first two, and waited a bit to see how successful (or not) I would be before moving along to "3". But having quit my day job in animation,  illustration became my new day job and I worked that much harder as a result. Food, shelter, and children to support make for powerful motivators!

2. Put your pride aside for a moment and share some of your first mistakes starting out...
The most egregious mistake I can think of was made in my first manuscript submission. I sent it to everyone, and I mean EVERYONE listed in the Children's Writer's and Illustrator's Market (and all simultaneously). It was a Christmas picture book, but I think I even sent queries to non fiction imprints! Yikes... Needless to say I got a host of rejection letters... but I also got one "yes", and one is all it takes.
3. How do you maintain a daily routine of writing/illustrating when it is so completely different from a day to day job?
I've found that the relationship between the amount of time I put into my work, and the results I get from it are directly proportional. So, I try to treat it as a "day to day" job. This means a lot of time with my bum in the chair at my desk! That was nearly impossible when my husband was working full time, and I was looking after our two boys by myself all day. I'd squeeze in a bit of work early in the morning before anyone else was up,  Then, after cooking dinner, and getting the boys tucked in,  I'd make myself an espresso and head into the studio and draw until the espresso wore off, or I fell asleep. Now, I'm lucky enough to have my husband home with the boys so I can work during "normal" business hours.  I head to the studio about 9am and I tackle email and social networking first thing. When that's done, I put on some music and head to my desk to work on whatever piece I left off from the day before, and I work till the boys are home from school around 4pm. But, old habits are hard to break, and I often sneak into the studio both early in the morning and after the boys are in bed.
4. What is one thing that has helped you to get noticed in this sea of illustrators?
I can't pick just one, I think it has to be two: Skill and Luck. I once read a quote by Oprah that said "Luck is the moment when preparation meets opportunity." I think that's true. There are so many talented and skilled illustrators out there. I am always working to hone my skills and improve my storytelling ability. But your work also has to catch the right eyes at the right time, or land on an editor's desk on just the right day- that's where luck comes into play. I've been insanely lucky in that regard. But all the luck in the world won't help you if your work isn't up to snuff. So, I practice, practice, practice, and then make sure I put my work out there so it has a chance of meeting the right opportunities
5. What one piece of advice would you give to a young illustrator?
"...make a  place for yourself. "There's a short story that goes along with this...When I was a teenager longing to work for Disney Feature Animation, I wrote to Glen Keane (animator of Ariel in the Little Mermaid and so many others) and asked him how I could become an animator. To my delight, he took the time to answer me in a handwritten letter (which I still keep in my desk) saying: "Draw, draw, draw!" Which I did,  and after college was hired by DreamWorks Feature Animation.While I was at DreamWorks I had the privilege of working with the late Pres Romanillos, who had apprenticed with Glen Keane, and Pres introduced us at a film screening. At the time, the whole world of animation was transitioning between traditional animation and CGI, and I was starting to feel that I needed to move in another direction if I wanted a career where I could keep drawing.

As it turns out Mr. Keane was facing the same dilemma- he wanted to keep drawing. And after the film, when someone asked him what he planned to do now that animation was becoming overwhelmingly digital he said: "If there is something you want to do, that isn't being done, you have to make a place for yourself."

It was "Draw, draw, draw!" all over again...  I took his words to heart, and started making a place for myself in the world of children's books. I'm so glad I did.

Molly is giving away a copy of her book, Santa’s Workshop and a signed print  from the book. The winner will be randomly chosen from all entries, and announced Monday, November 7, 2011.

Ways to enter:

  • Leave a comment below
  • Follow Molly on Twitter @mollyidle and copy this retweet on your status: RT @mollyidle Enter to win a signed print and a copy of Santa’s Workshop #giveaway
  • Follow/Like Idle Illustration on Facebook