Deborah Freedman was an architect once, but now prefers building worlds in picture books. She is the author and illustrator of THE STORY OF FISH & SNAIL, BLUE CHICKEN, SCRIBBLE, and to-be-published (April 2015) BY MOUSE & FROG. Deborah lives in a colorful house in southern Connecticut, where she is busy at work on her next books. For more info, visit her website and Twitter.
If you could buy one thing in bulk, what would it be?
What life-altering change have you been meaning to do?
Clean out my filing cabinets.
What is one risk you are not willing to take?
Getting rid of any book that I might want to read some day…
What one toy would you like to throw repeatedly at a brick wall?
Any toy with operating instructions.
Which of your projects gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
I have finished four books, and have four kids — and no favorites among either set, for goodness sake. Though the latest work-in-progress does always seem to get the most attention.
Can you visualize a finished product before you begin?
What I visualize is generally gauzy and the-most-brilliant-thing-I’ll-ever-create! Then the finished work is, inevitably, partly a disappointment — which motivates me to try again, over and over again, by writing the next book.
Do your illustrations reflect your personality?
Three of my four books (the 4th, BY MOUSE & FROG, will be published by Viking next spring) are about messes that eventually get cleaned up. This was not intentional, but it absolutely reflects my ridiculously tangled creative process.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
As I always show and tell children, my stories are completely made-up, but the feelings in them are true. The emotional content of my books is all mine.
How do you think you differ from other illustrators?
I admire so many other illustrators, past and present, but even when I’ve tried to emulate what they do, my work comes out as something else — so I may end up different in spite of my best efforts.
If you knew that you had only one last opportunity to express yourself creatively, what message would you want to convey to others?
I honestly don’t try, consciously, to convey messages through my work. I simply hope that children will read my books and feel understood.
If you were no longer able to illustrate, how else would you express your creativity?
I actually think of myself as a writer first — but one who writes with both words and pictures. So if I could no longer illustrate, I would still keep on writing, keep on telling stories for children.