Friday, January 23, 2015

Author/ Illustrator Interview with Kevin Sherry

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Kevin Sherry. Lizzy reviewed his book The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We're excited to learn a little more about his story. So, without further ado... take it away, Kevin!


What inspired you to write The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet?

A long time ago, I drew a doodle in my sketchbook that was a little pictogram list of about a dozen cryptids. The little yeti was tiny, but it really stood out on the page. I mean, it was small, a dime would cover it. Something about this yeti was just special, in just this little drawing it had this attitude and also it had just perfect proportions. Over the years, I redrew and redrew this yeti hundreds and hundreds of times and the yeti appeared on many t-shirts when I had a t-shirt company. I kept trying to make the yeti into a picture book, once it was even called "Betti the Yeti", but it never flew as a picture book. Luckily, I had given an editor at Scholastic the little "Cryptozoology" print at an illustrator party, and she wanted to see what ideas I had. Once I expanded the format and gave the yeti an awesome attitude and a cool name, the whole idea just took off. 

How long did it take you to write The Yeti Files: Meet the Bigfeet? 

Oh man, well I think I first pitched the idea in May 2012 and then Meet the Bigfeet came out September 30th 2014, so yeah, it takes a long time. And I think the first one took especially long because it was a completely new format for me. I went from doing 16 spread picture books with 2 or 3 gags to this new book, which is 128 pages with jokes on every page. I think when I first went in with the rough outline of the story, I had about 200 pages. Then it was all about compressing pages together and redrawing things and reformatting pages over and over. For this first one I drew the entire book 4 times. I think for the next ones, I'll be able to just draw the book 3 times, because now I know the format a little better.

What was your inspiration for the devious cryptozoologist, George Vanquist?

Well I want the world of the cryptids to be this cool secret side-world to the real world. Mostly humans are not in the story, but for the first book, at least, I wanted a human link to the human world. And I wanted him to be like the Anti-Blizz. Instead of being kind and inclusive to everyone, George Vanquist is rude, mean, and has a lack of self-awareness. And I wanted to say something too about not having to put up with someone being mean to you, so when Noodles leaves Vanquist, he's taking back his self-esteem.

What are some of your favorite books from childhood? Were there any specific authors who inspired you?

It was Roald Dahl that introduced me to the love of reading. Matilda was my first thick book, and after I read that, I realized I could read anything. Also, I was really inspired by Roald Dahl's illustrator, Quentin Blake. So much so that I wrote him a letter in third grade, and he actually wrote me back. I still have that letter.

Other illustrators were Steven Gammel with those Scary Stories books, Maurice Sendak, Shel Silverstein, and actually, looking back I was reading all of Matt Greoning's Life is Hell books in third grade and that was a HUGE influence on me, too.

If you could live anyplace real or fictional, where would it be? Why?

Oh man, if I'm away from my desk for more than a few days I start to get really nervous. I like working and drawing and making stuff in my studio, with some Netflix on in the background and my rat on my lap. THAT’S my comfort zone. I live in Baltimore and it's awesome because there's a great art scene going on here, and I feel like I have a pretty good standing, but there will always be some people who live here that I'll always look up to and who will always be better at their art than I am at mine. So I know I'll never be top dog, and I'll always have something to strive for.

If you could befriend a cryptid, which would you choose? Why?

A flying one. Probably Jack Saturday, the Unicorn. I wouldn't be opposed to a partnership with a dragon or giant eagle, but I'll just say a Unicorn.


You are the author and illustrator of The Yeti Files. Which scene in the book was your favorite to put together? Which scene was challenging?

If you look on page 10-11, that is the approximation of the "Cryptozoology" doodle that I drew in a sketchbook 8 years ago. It’s awesome to see it come all this way. I will say writing and drawing a whole long book is itself a very difficult thing to think about. I get caught up with anxiety about tackling this huge task, but once I break it down into appropriate, smaller jobs and start drawing, I go into the zone and I love doing it. The thought of the book is the most challenging.


Are you currently working on a book? If so, can you tell us a little bit about it?

I just handed in The Yeti Files 2: Monsters on the Run. So that comes out September 2015 and that's starring Yeti's team and introduces Vanessa, the Loch Ness Monster and Tobin Clover, a very talented leprechaun. Right now, I'm working on illustrating two picture books that other people wrote, Swallow the Leader, which will look somewhat like I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean and The Big Problem, which has a bunch of squirrels in it, and then I have the first draft of Yeti 3 due by March 1. That one is going to be Merfolk/Atlantis/Kraken. So I'm staying busy :^)
Kevin Sherry at the 2014 UCONN Children's Book Fair 





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56 comments:

  1. It is always great to hear how an idea came to an author about for a book and the process of how it actually became a book. I have been toying with the idea of writing one, I know it won't happen without my putting in the effort :) Have a great weekend xox

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    1. Launna- I am so glad you enjoy hearing about how ideas come to an author and the process of it actually becoming a book. I think it is wonderful that you want to write a book. You should definitely start writing one! Good luck! :) ~L

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  2. Just like mighty oaks grow from little acorns then so great books obviously grow from dime sized doodles. Sounds like a fun read and oh my goodness what a cute cover.

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    1. Tracy- I think the cover is fun too! It is amazing to find out where ideas come from. :) ~L

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  3. Whoops! Forgot to mention .... a GFC follower, I'd definitely want to befriend a Yeti as how lovely to be able to cuddle up to them on a cold winters day such as today.

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    1. Tracy- What a good answer! Good luck! :) :) ~L

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  4. I know my boys would choose to befriend Bigfoot and yetis. They are obsessed!

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    1. Shauna- Then this is the perfect book for them! :) ~L

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  5. Wow, 128 pages with jokes on everyone is sure quite the feat indeed, or would that be feet? lol

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    1. Pat- Lol! It is definitely an entertaining book! :) ~L

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  6. haha this interview answered my questions about the book I had from the review. (even about Nessy) That's so cool that the original sketch made it into the book. This definitely sounds like a labor of love. :)

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    1. Molly- Glad your questions were answered in the interview! I think it is cool that the original sketch made it too. :) ~L

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  7. the whole time I'm reading this I'm like "why is this name so familiar" I do believe you're with Prospect agency, Kevin. I am too!

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    1. Beth- How cool that you and Kevin have the same agency! :) ~L

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  8. Totally love his illustrations...now I have a new author crush...lol...

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    1. Patty- I think his illustrations are very appealing! They are so fun and unique. :) ~L

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  9. Loved reading about the background to this story. Wishing Kevin the best of luck!

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    1. Cate- Finding out the background is always fun! :) ~L

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  10. Terrific interview. I hadn't heard about these books, but I have a couple of grandchildren who would love to read these. Thanks for the post and for the chance to win. I think these books will be a big hit.

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    1. Rosi- Glad to introduce you to a new author and I bet your grandchildren would enjoy his books. Good luck with the giveaway. :) ~L

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  11. Nice interview--it was interesting to read of his process. My canoe was once featured in a "Yeti" film by a friend of mine who was working with students in a summer film making class in which Yeti transferred in and he was picked on until he saved guys who were canoeing and capsized.

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    1. Sage- So happy you enjoyed the interview. How cool that your canoe was in a Yeti film! Awesome! :) ~L

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  12. Ahh I love how he never gave up on the Yeti and how it grew and grew from that little drawing.

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    1. Heidi- I think it is inspirational that Kevin kept trying to get his Yeti story out there. And- he did it! :) ~L

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  13. What a neat story and a fun interview. Kids ought to really enjoy these books. Adults, like me, too. :) Congratulations, Kevin, and best wishes.

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    1. Beverly- This is a book kids will enjoy and adults too! Glad you enjoyed the interview. :) ~L

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  14. What a fun interview. Love Kevin's determination. Unicorn? Cool, but the virginity requirement is tough. Dragons for me. With visits from rather a lot of other fabulous beasties.

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    1. Elephant's Child- So happy that you liked the interview. Kevin is an inspiration! I love unicorns and dragons. :) ~L

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  15. Always fun to hear about the origins/inspiration of stories

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  16. I love the idea of the monsters being the heroes of the book! Kevin has such great ideas. I'm wishing him much success! :)

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    1. Lexa- I think the idea behind the book is awesome too! :) ~L

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  17. I have read a lot of author interviews, but never one with the illustrator as well, which made this different! I love the artwork. I also write a bit of childrens fiction and Rhoald Dahl was a huge inspiration for me as well. I think I want to buy his complete collection, and of poetry too.

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    1. Olivia- Savannah- Yeah! Glad you enjoyed the interview. I am a big fan of Roald Dahl too! :) ~L

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  18. The book looks fun and knowing that it originated from a kid's doodling is inspiring to the young minds.

    Your questions made us learn more about the author. Thanks!

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    1. SuperLux- It is a fun book and I liked learning about where the idea originated too. So happy you enjoyed the interview! :) ~L

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  19. It is really cute how Kevin's book is inspired from his little yeti drawing. I love the original pic of the yeti. So raw and beautiful. It's cool that Quentin Blake wrote back to him! Wow... I love Roald Dahl's books and I used to wonder at the "ugly" (Quentin's style) illustrations that endear so much to kids.

    Jo
    Jo's Jumbled Jardinière

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    1. Jo- Like you, I enjoyed hearing about the inspiration for the book too. His original picture is great! Quentin definitely has a unique style and getting a letter from him would be so cool. :) ~L

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  20. This looks like so much fun! And who doesn't want a unicorn for a friend? :)

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    1. Meradeth- It is and unicorn's are awesome! :) ~L

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  21. Great AND fun interview. I loved reading his process. It's good to stay busy ion this business. Nice to know about Kevin and his books. Befriending a yeti sounds like a cool life thing to do.

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    1. Thanks, Robyn. So glad you liked reading about Kevin's process! :) ~L

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  22. I got a copy of The Yeti Files at BEA last year. My daughter gets to read it first, so I have to wait my turn. ;)

    That rat is adorable!

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    1. Kelly- Awesome that you got a copy of The Yeti files at BEA last year. I hope you and your daughter both enjoy it (and it was fun to run into you at BEA last year). :) ~Stephanie and Jess

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  23. What incredible illustrations. I'm in awe! I want to read this one now.

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    1. Stephanie- His illustrations are really fabulous! :) ~L

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  24. It looks and sounds wonderful. I'm adding it to read now pile.

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    1. Nas- It is short and fun! A quick read that will have you laughing. :) ~L

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  25. What a great feature. I'm pleased to meet Kevin. I enjoy cryptid tales.

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    1. Thanks, Medeia! Glad you enjoyed it! :) ~L

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  26. I want to befriend the unicorn, too! He looks so cool. :)

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    1. Carrie- I love unicorns and would love to befriend one too! :) ~L

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  27. Loved hearing how it all started. And how cool that your rat is always by your side. Animals are the best.

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    1. TBM- You are right! Animals are the best. :) :) ~L

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  28. My son loves this kind of book. He would love it! I personally would choose Fairy, but one son is currently obsessed with PVZ, so he'd pick Zombie. :)

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    1. Jennifer- Good luck with the giveaway! I think it is awesome that your son would enjoy this book and you both picked interesting choices (I love fairies). :) ~L

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