1. Do you like your ice crushed or
“Cubed – I am drawn to shapes and like to watch cubes melt and assume different forms along the way – once I saw Henry Kissinger’s face in a cube and most recently it was a bulldog…”
3. If you could have a super power what would it be?
“It’s not considered a super power but I really wish time machines existed – I would love to go back in time to witness Paris in the 20’s for example or meet EE Cummings or Truman Capote as he was writing In Cold Blood.”
4. What is your favorite color?
“Blue like The Big Blue Bird!”
5. What did you want to be when you grew up?
“What didn’t I want to be! I had so many interests – I thought of pursuing everything from medicine to photography!”
1. We know from your blog that you once met Shel Silverstein, who
would you like to meet in the future?
“If I could have a dinner party and invite anyone living today, the guest list would include: Noam Chomsky, Harper Lee, Stephen Fry, Thuli Madonsela, Armistead Maupin, Edward Snowden, Itzhak Perlman, Annie Leibovitz, Julian Schnabel and Nan Goldin.”
2. Where do your characters come from? The inspiration for your drawings?
“The character of The Big Blue Bird originated from a poem I wrote for a children’s volume of poetry I was working on and wanted each poem to have a picture to accompany it. For most of the poems, I simply went to the internet to find one from the free picture websites you can use without danger of copyright infringement. I couldn’t find a picture of a blue bird, that fit the picture in my head of her, so I drew one instead. From that single drawing, I could suddenly see the poem as a children’s book.”
3. Why did you decide to become a children’s author?
“I didn’t decide! It just bloomed from the poetry I was attempting to write. I thought I would create a book for my nieces to have something from me to read to their children one day. I received such encouragement with the result – to publish it in some form – so I did. Sometimes life whispers in your ear – tells you what to do.”
4. Besides Shel Silverstein what children’s authors have inspired you?
“I love simple drawings in children’s books – It was what I was attracted to as a child and still am. Like Shel Silverstein’s drawings in ‘The Giving Tree’ and ‘Where the Sidewalk Ends’ I also like the Pigeon series of books by Mo Willems. Not that I don’t appreciate very elaborate beautiful illustrations; there is just something I find charming about simple line drawings. I also love colorful abstract paintings. I like to add a bit of abstract, if I can, to my work.”
5. We have noticed that the Big Blue Bird is a full figured bird. Was this intentional and is it a commentary on full figured woman being properly represented in the media?
“Yes, it was intentional. I am constantly irritated by the preoccupation bordering on obsession [that] most people have with their bodies – so many people equate their size with their worth. It is such a manufactured concept with no inherent truth – we are told what is beautiful and we believe it – it’s that simple. I have four nieces and my sister was telling me one day about a comment my youngest niece Sara made to her about being called chunky or fat. She is neither, but is naturally a mesomorph where her sister Hana is an ectomorph like my sister. So standing next to her sister she appears thicker, thus producing the absurd comment. The majority of media tells us we are most worthy if we are very slender and tall. Character, honesty, integrity and personality are distant considerations and it’s beyond pathetic. We are now a society where looking good is better than being good. Facade is the paramount concern, so is it any surprise we are in a situation where there is so much vapid wrapped in pretty packages? I wanted to show The Big Blue Bird is happy and admired just the way she is!”
6. How do you feel about females being represented in media and what do you hope the impact will be on Children’s books?
“If you review the women ideal throughout history you see a transition based on a fashion industry who seem to find the wide hips and large breasts of women undesirable. Their designs appear to be created based on those physical traits most resembling males
– narrow hips and flat chests. This spills over into mainstream press,
painting a portrait of the ideal woman, which most women
cannot achieve without near starvation. In the 1800s women were pursued who were voluptuous, this is captured in the art of the age, demonstrating further how much media controls how we view ourselves and each other. The bottom line – there is still too much emphasis on women as sex objects and on façade in general. I would like to see more children’s books with positive characters of all shapes and sizes and color; sending the essential message that outside doesn’t matter only heart.”
7. Where would yo like to see the children’s book industry in 5 years?
“Flooded with my books! 😉
Actually, I would like to see less of a distinction between traditional and self-publishing. There is an immediate negative reaction in learning a book is independently published and I disagree with the perception. Granted, since everyone can publish a book of any quality, there is much to sort through but I think dismissing these books (as many blog reviewers, contests, traditional publications and literary agencies do) closes the opportunity for many, many wonderful books of all genres to see the light of day and that is misfortune for all of us. I wish to thank you at The Modest Verge for being one of the increasingly few blog reviewers who embrace independent authors!”
8. Do you think all Children’s books should have a moral compass?
“No, I think there is a place for silly books that just take the child on an adventure without any ‘moral to the story’ included but I personally like to add a little segment to provoke thought or discussion in my books since I realize I am speaking to minds that are molding and really want to affect a positive impact with my books.”
9. We have read that you are also a poet. You have some posted on Wattpad of which we are big supporters. Do you have more poetry books in the works?
“Thank you – so you are the ones who have been reading the posts! 😉
I have two volumes I am editing at the moment – one is the same title I am posting under on Wattpad (not sure for how long) called Brilliant Mothers of the Naked Waifs and the other volume is called Baying at a Blood Red Moon. They will both be out early this year I hope !”
10. What future children’s books do you have in the works?
“The next book is called Banners and Seebeex Fly Away which will be Available on Amazon February 2, 2015 and I am finishing A Big Blue Christmas that I began over the holidays. I also have a few in the beginning stages so [I’m] not sure what they will be yet!”
We would like to thank VL Durand for answering our questions. Please visit her at the links below and if you missed Viola’s Kids Corner review of The Big Blue Bird you can find that below as well.
VL Durand can be found:
See our review of The Big Blue Bird:
Pippi Longstocking by Planet Junior
Don’t let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems