Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Talented and Prolific Nancy Carlson

Nancy Carson
Photo Credit: Craig Perman

I am very excited to have the amazing author-illustrator, Nancy Carlson, on my blog today! I have known Nancy for a number of years through my work at Stages Theatre Company, where many of her books have been adapted for the stage. I was fortunate enough to be the playwright and lyricist for HARRIET AND WALT, a delightful story about an older sister with a tag-along younger brother. As the oldest of four, I was all too familiar with the expectations and responsibility that being a big sister can sometimes require.

Nancy has written and illustrated more than 60 children's books since 1979. Her most recent book is SOMETIMES YOU BARF. Publishers Weekly had the following review for Nancy's book, I LIKE ME! "The foundation of a healthy self-image, the cornerstone of a happy and successful life, is what Carlson's work is all about." For more information on Nancy's books, visit

JK: What do you do to get your creative juices flowing?

NC: I like to get outside and hike or ride my bike.

JK: What are you currently working on?

NC: I am working on lots of new ideas but none I can talk about yet. I am not sure at this point which will actually become a book. That said, I am very interested in trying my hand at some non-fiction books for the very young.

JK: What do you like to do when you aren’t writing or illustrating?

NC: Go look at art, travel and hike. I also love to spend time with my granddaughters Charlotte and Lillian!

JK: When did you know you wanted to draw and write stories?

NC: I decided to be an illustrator and author in kindergarten! I have been drawing since I could first hold a pencil. My parents read to me so I have always loved picture books.


JK: Do you have a favorite story that you’ve written or illustrated?

I really can’t pick a favorite because they are like my kids. I think my new book, SOMETIMES YOU BARF, is pretty funny and kids seem to like it a lot!

JK: (Sidenote) Kirkus Review said SOMETIMES YOU BARF is "A delightful and helpful treatment of a somewhat taboo topic."

Nancy teaching

JK: You have such a definitive style as an artist. Your use of colors and textures is always delightful. How did you come about your unique style?

NC: I have always loved color and patterns because of my favorite artist, Matisse. I approach each illustration hoping that it can stand alone as a piece of art. As an artist, my art has changed through the years and it is still changing. The fact I do a doodle a day that is posted on my website has helped my art evolve and change as an artist. The act of drawing each day has also helped me with book ideas and character development.

JK: How many books have your written?

NC: I have 67 published books. Out of that number I am not sure how many I just illustrated, maybe 10? Also in that count I actually wrote one book, T FOR TWIN CITIES, but I did not illustrate it.

JK: Who is HARRIET AND WALT based on? Did the story really happen?

NC: Kind of I do have a little brother named David Walter that I used to have to watch and take with me when I played outside.

JK: What is it like to see one of your stories come to life for the theater?

NC: I love it. I have never been disappointed. I am usually a bit nervous on opening night I have to admit!

HARRIET AND WALT at Stages Theatre Company
Photo Credit: Bruce Challgren

JK: How has the world of picture books changed since you began?

NC: Picture books seem to attract a younger audience now than when I began. That is affecting the subject matter in picture books. I also notice there are a lot less words than when I started writing.

HARRIET AND WALT at Stages Theatre Company
Left to right: Scout Peterson, Noah Paquin, Megan Collins
Photo Credit: Bruce Challgren 
JK: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the world of picture books?

NC: Join writing groups, know your audience i.e. child development, less is better so edit your work as much as possible and don’t give up.

JK: Thank you so much, Nancy! Check out Nancy's links, and information about HARRIET AND WALT, the musical, below!

For the link to the musical adaptation of HARRIET AND WALT, please visit Samuel French's website below. You will find information about the script as well as song samples.

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