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  • Writer's pictureManju Howard

Joint Interview: Author Sharon Giltrow and Illustrator Arielle Li

I’m delighted to interview Australian middle grade and picture book author, Sharon Giltrow. Plus, I would like to welcome illustrator Arielle Li. Their picture book, GET READY, MAMA! will be released by publisher EK books on April 6th in Australia and on April 12th in the US.

For our Kidlit Creatives Members, you have a chance to win a copy of GET READY, MAMA! To WIN this special prize, follow the directions at the end of this post.

First, I want to share illustrator Arielle Li's cover art!

Hi Sharon! Congratulations on your second picture book with EK books, GET READY, MAMA! Your first book through EK books, BEDTIME DADDY! was released on May 2020. Please share the submission process of both picture books.

Sharon: Thank you, Manju, for inviting Arielle and I onto your blog post. I am so pleased that Arielle and I get to do this interview together because we worked as a team to create GET READY, MAMA!

Now onto the submission process for both my debut picture book BEDTIME, DADDY! and its companion book GET READY, MAMA! I submitted BEDTIME, DADDY! to EK books in June 2018 through their website. EK Books has an open submission policy, which provides a great opportunity. In July 2018 they contacted me and said they loved the manuscript and wanted to take it to acquisition. Luckily the whole team loved BEDTIME, DADDY! and I signed the contract in August 2018. So, once I found the right publisher for BEDTIME, DADDY! the submission process was quite quick.

However, the submission process for GET READY, MAMA! was a little longer and windier. I wanted to write a follow up book to but this time about a mum. I wrote GET READY, MAMA! in August 2018 and submitted it to EK book in October 2018 it was taken to acquisition but unfortunately it was a no. So, I put it in the ‘drawer’ and after BEDTIME, DADDY! was published I asked EK if I could re-submit it. Due to the success and sales of BEDTIME, DADDY! they agreed. I re-submitted GET READY, MAMA! in March 2020 it was again taken to acquisition. Then COVID in Australia slowed everything down. Finally in December 2020, I signed the contract for GET READY, MAMA! Two years after I first sent the manuscript to EK Books. Perseverance, and a strong belief in my story finally paid off.

That's terrific, Sharon! In your recent interview with Children’s Book Academy, I learned that your publisher encouraged you to collaborate with Arielle Li. Please give us an example of how your words changed through this collaboration.

Sharon: Great question Manju. As an author I aim to have my manuscript as polished as I can before I send it to a publisher. So, the final text didn’t change much from the version that I sent to EK. When I received the storyboard for GET READY, MAMA! I matched the text to the illustrations to see how the story flowed. Arielle did a great job picturing the story so there was only one significant change. On the page where mama is changing her top the original text read...

Original text

Your mummy will…

Stop to watch T.V. Turn it off.

Go to the potty. Patiently wait …some things can’t be rushed.

Change her top. The other one had breakfast all over it.

(This was going to be all on one page)

Final text

Your mama will stop to watch TV.

Turn it off.

Your mama will stop to go to the potty.

Patiently wait…Some things can’t be rushed.

Then, change your mama’s top, because it has breakfast all over it.

(Now spread out over three pages)

I loved how Arielle spread out the text over the three pages. It slows the story down and gives this scene it’s very own page. Allowing for some lovely details and more humour.

You may also notice that the original text had mummy and the final text mama. EK asked for this change because mama is more universal than mummy, and GET READY, MAMA! is released worldwide.

Hi Arielle! Please give us an example of how an illustration changed through this collaboration.

Arielle: Firstly, thank you so much, Manju for inviting us to share the process behind the creation of Get Ready, Mama! I’m very lucky to be the one illustrating it, and I loved being part of the amazing team that made it happen.

One example of how an illustration changed through collaboration was the page where the little girl was running to her classroom. Mark, the art director, adjusted the background so that the word “Run!” had much more impact. I agreed with him, and I love how it turned out.

Actually, some of the best illustration ideas came from Sharon, too. A good example is the cover. I initially presented 4 cover sketches, and although I like them as well, I absolutely love Sharon’s idea to have mama still in bed and the little girl waking her up. It really does sum up the playfulness of this story.

Please show us the step-by-step process of an illustration from sketch to finished piece for GET READY, MAMA!

Arielle: I’d start an illustration by creating really rough thumbnail sketches. Then I’d add a new layer and refine the sketch a bit more, and also add in the tonal values, so I end up with a black and white thumbnail, which really helps me see the composition clearly without worrying about the colours. And when I’m happy with it, I’d use that sketch as a base and work on top of that.

Thanks very much, Sharon and Arielle!

Sharon Giltrow grew up in South Australia, the youngest of eight children, surrounded by pet sheep and fields of barley. She now lives in Perth, Western Australia with her husband, two children and a tiny dog. Previously a teacher of children who are hearing impaired and Deaf-Blind, she now teaches young children with Developmental Language Disorder. Her humorous debut PB, BEDTIME DADDY! released May 2020 through EK books. Sharon’s humorous follow up PB, GET READY, MAMA! Her third and fourth PB, LET’S GO SHOPPING, GRANDMA! And LET’S GO TO THE BEACH, GRANDPA! are due to be released through Dixi Books in 2022 and 2023. SAMARA RUBIN AND THE UTILITY BELT, book one in Sharon’s early MG series – THE UTILITY BELT, will be released in 2022 through Clear Fork Publishing. With book two TOBY KING AND THE UTILITY BELT to follow.

Arielle Li has been passionate about creating art from a young age, and has been pursuing illustration as a career since 2019. She enjoys long walks at the beach, chasing her cats around the house and practicing Taekwondo. Her debut picture book GET READY, MAMA! releases in April 2022. Arielle is based in Adelaide.

Prize offer: For a chance to win a copy of GET READY, MAMA! read the post, leave a comment on our Kidlit Creatives page (must be a member) and share this interview on your Twitter or Facebook. Deadline to enter is Friday, March 18th.

All posts on Manju's blog promote members of Kidlit Creatives: Create, Query & Support. Request to join us by hopping over to our FB page.

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