Friday, May 20, 2016

Interview Session: Peter Brown

When Peter visited Lemuria Books back in April, we sat down to talk about his newest book for kids: The Wild Robot. Charting a new path by writing a chapter book, this book is heartfelt, has adorable characters, and full of strange and mysterious things while at the same time feels very familiar. Many thanks to Peter for answering my questions! 

Peter Brown and Clara Martin stand by a life size Roz!

How did you enter the world of children’s books and illustrating books for kids?

PB: I studied animation at the Art Center College of Design. I wanted to make characters come to life. Once I experienced [animation] up close, it was not as comfortable as I thought.

Why did you switch to illustration?

PB: I was studying illustration the whole time, and when I realized that animation wasn’t right for me, I still loved characters and children’s books, so that was a way for me to continue creating characters. My books are like little short films. I’m the director, the costume designer, and I control the lighting.

What are your favorite children’s books?

PB: Frog and Toad Are Friends and Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things That Go. I fell in love with the Hobbit too. I wasn’t much of a reader, but I loved making stories. Since I wasn’t a fast reader I did not spend as much time reading.

What artists or animators have inspired you?

PB: Eyvind Earle. He was a Disney artist responsible for the look of Sleeping Beauty. His art is so graphic, bold, and textual. He was a real influence on me.

What was your first book?

PB: The Flight of the Dodo. I graduated and moved to New York City and started making picture books for kids. I fell in love with words. Eventually, I fell so in love with words that I made a novel.

That first novel is The Wild Robot. Tell me a little about it.

PB: I first got the idea when I was writing The Curious Garden. The total time to write, from the initial idea to the completed project, was eight years. I spent two-and-a-half years actually working on it. The first years were important.

What was your favorite animal to write about in The Wild Robot?

PB: Roz’s adopted son, Brightbill. Geese are interesting animals because we don’t think of them as such. They have interesting behaviors like migrating and imprinting. A gosling was perfect for my story because in the real world geese can imprint on people, so maybe they can imprint on a robot. I was also able to touch on real human emotions, such as “leaving the nest.”

What surprised you about Roz?

PB: She’s a robot. I was surprised by the similarities between my robot main character and myself. We have to find that little voice in our mind and explore that. I like a strict routine; I’m a creature of habit and a perfectionist, all things in common with Roz.

What upcoming projects do you have next?

PB: A sequel to The Wild Robot. There is no title yet. The second book will be as surprising and intriguing as the first one.

Peter speaks to captivated students at a school.

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