I got the chance to interview Ben Clanton, picture book author and illustrator, and his answers are just as much fun as his book launch parties always are! With only a few well-placed (and genius!) lines and squiggles, Ben is able to capture the heart and soul of a multitude of characters – from the very sweet duo of Narwhal and Jelly to his latest, the endearing ghost, Boo.
1. Ben, if you could have been the writer of any book that’s ever been published, what would it be and why?
Definitely Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It is the book that turned me into a reader and for good reason. Harry Potter contains so many things that I love such as magic, mail, humor, mischief, and goodness. J.K. Rowling weaves these things together in a way that is spell-binding as well as both fantastical and real. It helps that I have a healthy dose of nostalgia for reading it with my mom and sister.
2. What three things do you need around you when you start working on a new book?
A blank sketchbook (usually a Moleskine), a freshly sharpened pencil, and something unexpected
3. You are forced to condense your book collection to just one shelf : What books would make the cut?
That better be a huge shelf and I would definitely be cramming every last book on it I could, but the books that I must have on it include: ZEN SHORTS by Jon J. Muth, I WANT MY HAT BACK by Jon Klassen, HOW DROOFUS THE DRAGON LOST HIS HEAD by Bill Peet, WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE by Maurice Sendak, CALVIN AND HOBBES by Bill Watterson, MATILDA by Roald Dahl, JIMMY ZANGWOW’S OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD MOON PIE ADVENTURE by Tony DiTerlizzi, STUCK by Oliver Jeffers, MUTTS by Patrick McDonnell, THE DOT by Peter H. Reynolds, and all of the HARRY POTTER books by J.K. Rowling.
4. What one piece of advice would you go back in time to give yourself when you were first starting out as a writer?
Make something new every day.
5. If you could have, as your sidekick, any of the characters you’ve created – which one would it be, and why?
Narwhal!!! Because who wouldn’t want a positively awesome, super kind, waffle-loving, and incredibly imaginative sidekick??
Thanks, Ben, for the very wonderful interview! We can’t wait to see your next project!
Stay tuned for next week’s FIVE QUESTIONS – with Steve Olson, author of ERUPTION: THE UNTOLD STORY OF MT. ST HELENS.