What a fun visit I had with K. Michael Crawford. It is no wonder he has won awards with his books and art. I cannot imagine any child who would not love his books and illustrations.
What can I tell you? I think I am a real person. If you pinch me, I will scream. I eat butterscotch pudding on my vegetables, which makes them slide down the throat easier. I never, ever pick my nose’s friends and I have the best job in the world writing and illustrating children’s books. I get to draw everyday and create absurd characters for my paintings and books. When I am not doing my art and books, I am off on adventures wrestling alligators and driving all over the country. If you see someone drawing by the side of the road, wave, because it is probably me.
Tell us about the genre of your work.
I try to create magical art and books that get children to use their imagination and to believe in the impossible. Creating magic is not always easy, but it is lots of fun and can be messy some times.
Why did you choose this genre?
All the Royalty positions were filled and Queen Elizabeth said I was not ready to rule England. Darn!
One of the best compliments I ever got was, “You are a child in an adult body.” That describes me to a tea and I like mine without Sugar. It is the only place I get to use my sense of humor, a mixture of my silliness, a whole lot of my wonderful imagination while I get to make people of all ages laugh and to believe in magic. I cannot think of a better way to spend my time.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
I have been illustrating books since once upon a time, so I have illustrated over 30 books. Some are still in print and some are not. That happens. I have illustrated two wonderful books by author Nancy Allen for Red Rock Press. Those books have such a wonderful flavor to them. Blueberry, I think. The stories take place in Kentucky and are about five adventurous kids who discover all kinds of things near the Troublesome Creek, which is a real creek in Hazard County. I plan to visit it this summer.
|The Lit Chick Show|
In 2006, I started my own publishing company, Happily Ever Art Publishing, so that I could publish my first-of-their-kind drawing adventure books. Boy, that has been an adventure, all on its own. Being the publisher and the author/illustrator of the books makes me the chief bottle washer of it all. Sometimes, I would like to be able to pull out my magic wand and have it all done.
Now for just a tad of bad news, I only publish my books at my publishing company, so please do not send me your manuscripts, hand them to me, or drop them by my studio.
What ages do you direct your books?
The picture books I have illustrated are for kid’s ages 3 to 8 year olds. Some of my drawing books are for 7 year olds and up and some other drawing books are for 8 years olds and up. I have even had some adults do my drawing books as well, especially if they want to feed their imagination.
Can you tell us about your books, and where we might find them?
1. The Mystery of Journeys Crowne- An Adventure Drawing Book. In the book, the reader/artist has to figure out clues in order to know what to draw on the page. It gets the reader/artist to use their imagination, teaches them to figure things out and gets them to make choices. First Book in Bazel Lark Series. 8 years old and up.
ISBN: 978-0-9817940-0-6. It won Biblio 2009 Best Book of the Year award.
2. Batty Malgoony’s Mystic Carinvale- The reader/artist has to draw in all the carnivale characters are Batty’s Carnivale, which gets children to use their imagination and to make choices. ISBN: 978-0-9817940-1-3. For 7 years old and up.
3. The Island of Zadu- Another Bazel Lark Adventure Drawing Book. As in The Mystery of Journeys Crowne, the reader again has to answer clues to know what to draw on the page. This book again gets the reader to use their imagination, teaches them to figure things out and gets them to make choices. ISBN: 978-0-9817940-2-0.
8 years old and up.
4. Professor Horton Hogwash’s Museum of Ridiculous. In this drawing book, the reader/artist gets to draw in the exhibit or collection of each themed-room in the museum. Or not! This is the museum of ridiculous, so they can draw in anything they want. This is my newest book that comes out this month.
ISBN: 978-0-9817940-3-7. 7 years old and up.
5. The Munched-Up Flower Garden. Written by Nancy Kelly Allen, Illustrated by me. This is the wonderful book, I was telling you about earlier. This is a picture book and it is great to read to kids or teach them how to read.
ISBN: 1-933176-04-0 for ages 3 to 8.
6. Trouble in Troublesome Creek. Written by Nancy Kelly Allen, Illustrated by me. This is another wonderful book in the same series where the characters in the book have to solve a mystery. This is also a picture book and it is great to read to kids or teach them how to read. ISBN: 1-933176-32-1. For ages 3 to 8.
If you go to my website: http://www.happilyeverart.com and click on books you can see how to purchase the books and try out sample pages of the drawing books in each of the character’s websites.
Yes! A few years ago, I was teaching Art part-time and I noticed that kids were losing their imagination and having trouble making simple choices. I had a good idea why this was happening and I decided to do something about it by creating my drawing books.
I believe that if children use their imaginations, they will see all the possibilities and then be able to make really good choices for themselves.
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?
Everything I do when I create a book has a purpose. Every drawing or writing on each page has a purpose. No willy-nilly with my art and books. Each drawing book I create has a character that goes with the book and I bring those characters to life. I create their whole life story. It was so funny when lots of people got mad at me for letting Bazel Lark get stampeded by camels, but that was the only way I could think that the reader would be getting his adventures. Even when I create the names of my character, a lot of thought goes into it. Take Bazel Lark’s name. Bazel means brave and courage. Lark means adventurous. I do not think Batty Malgoony’s name needs any explanation.
How did you develop the character/s of your in each of your books?
Bazel Lark liked to dig up things at an early age. He always wanted to be the best Archeologist and Explorer and he got to be when he discovered Blackbeard’s skull while having a drink at Jack the Ripper’s Pub in London.
Batty Malgoony, Bazel’s cousin, liked to perform death-defying acts for his family after dinner. Afraid that Batty would hurt himself; his parents let him go live with the circus.
Horton Hogwash, Batty and Bazel’s cousin, were born at a yard sale and has been collecting things ever since and mind you not your normal run-of-the-mill stuff. More of what would fill a Cabinet of Curiosity.
They all live in Wyoming, next to each other.
I try to make every character I create a real character you would see in life. The ones I have known in my whole life, and I am still surrounded by wonderful and quirky people. Therefore, I believe that has rubbed off on my characters. I have yet to meet a normal person and if you have to add the “ish” at the end of normal, you still are not.
Is there a unique character or a recurring character if you have more than one published or to be published book?
Bazel Lark will be in all five of his books. It takes me two years to create one of Bazel Lark’s books, so I have three more to create in that series.
What is your favorite thing about your book/s?
I do not have a big head, but I will just say it. I love the books that I create. I feel like I am putting a lot of magic out in the world and my books will create future artists as well as getting our children to make great choices when they are older, because we all know that they pick our nursing home and I want a good one.
Is your book illustrated? If so, would you tell us by whom, and if you worked with an illustrator, can you discuss that experience?
I have illustrated all of my books, so it is a good thing I know how to color with a crayon. It is also a good thing I like working with myself, or it could get very sticky in my studio.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
I have never tried to write in another genre so I do not know. I followed the rule: “write what you know best.”
Are there any problems in getting children’s’ books published?
It can be a little tough nowadays to get a book published by a publisher, no matter what size, but if an author makes their book outstanding and unique they should have no problem getting it published. Nowadays, you need to show the publisher that you will help market and promote your book. Who could better to promote your book, but you? If a publisher sees that you do a great job promoting your book, then they are more likely to take your next book, because I have never heard of an Author just writing one book.
Why and when did you begin writing?
They stuck a crayon in my hand when I was a small little one and they have not been able to get it out, yet.
What is your writing schedule?
I write when I need to. I draw and write every day. I do not like to get into a rut, so I always mix things up. It keeps my imagination strong and I am always looking at my work in new ways.
If you are a new writer, set a schedule and stick with it until your passion kicks in so all you want to do is write or draw or both all the time. I take my sketchbook wherever I go, because I never know when I am going to get a great idea or see something I want to draw.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I am always creating something, whether it be writing a new book or painting some new art. I will get an idea for something and it will hound me until I complete it. For example, this past winter I got an idea for a musical toy, so I went to the hardware store got the parts and built it. Somehow, that will give me an idea for a piece of art or a new book down the road.
I just finished my latest book, Professor Horton Hogwash’s Museum of Ridiculous and while it is at the printers, I am now building his website, writing his press release and will be starting on his book trailer soon.
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
There is no magic key or secret way to get your book written or published otherwise I would have created it and made my living off the creation. As Nike said, “Just do it!” Write and draw every day. There is an old saying, draw or write 1000 pieces and then get back to me. Many people do not develop their writing or drawing voice and that is the first thing any writer or artist should do. The only way to develop that voice is to do as many pieces or stories as you can and then once you have a great voice start sending the work out to publishers.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Eat all your veggies with a little chocolate pudding on top. Be nice to your parents and never, ever pick your nose’s friends. They know how to pick their own friends. After you have done that, put one foot in front of the other until you reach your dream. Do not let anyone stop you or get in your way.
What do you do when you are not writing?
No moss grows under my feet. I do not sit still too long. Even with a broken arm, I have not slowed down too much. I like to reading, sail (own my own boat and I have not figured out yet how to sail and draw at the same time. I do not like other people sailing my boat.), travel (more like road trips), being silly, and most important thing I do is be a kid for at least 5 minutes a day. Okay, I will admit it, some days I am a kid longer than five minutes when no one is watching.
Anything else you would like to add?
Have fun at what you do in life and make the most of everything you do, because sometimes you only get to do that one thing only once.
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
I keep thinking that a big bell will ring to let me know when the “made it” moment happens. To be honest, I am so busy getting my books out there to the public that I have not had time to notice if I have “made it” or not. I am hoping my bank will tell me that I all ready have too much money in their bank. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Michael is being much too modest when he talks about his Made it Moments, check out his Awards on his website! This is one that won an award, and it is one of my favorites, but then I am a sucker for magical stories.
Some more of his art that I really like:
|Michael's at the Comic Con 2010|
If you want to find out more about Michael and his books, you can check him out on these links: visit his webpage
become a fan on his Facebook page
or watch his videos on Youtube at
I f you like his work, leave a comment and tell him that you do!