I’m happy to feature children’s author Kelly DiPucchio’s writing studio on today’s Tuesday Tours. Kelly has written some of my favorite books and I love how she addresses the use of of mediation when creating art. I met Kelly at the SCBWI Fall Conference in Wisconsin and her keynote had me taking notes, nodding in agreement, and laughing out loud. Meeting her was a highlight of my weekend. Her books are all wonderful, but my favorite is Grace for President—a brilliant and layered book, and one that after you read it, you say YES! Its about time that’s been addressed, and in such a clever way! Her Crafty Chloe books are creative (of course), but also filled with heart and small gestures of kindness that are brilliantly woven within a playful and engaging story. One of her hilarious new books, which will be published in Fall of 2015, is called Everyone Loves Bacon (illustrated by Eric Wright and published by FSG). And just like bacon, I have to say, everyone love Kelly DiPucchio, although, unlike bacon, her work would be listed in the healthy category, because it’s good for the soul 🙂
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative medium.
I am a picture book writer living in Michigan with my husband of 23 years, our three children, and a 14-year-old Bichon Frise who is the reigning queen of the DiPucchio castle. My other interests include reading and studying esoteric books, meditation, holistic health, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, nature walks, travel, red wine, and watching really bad reality TV.
How long have you had your space and how does it affect your creative process? We have lived in our home for nearly 17 years and during that time period my office space has undergone two complete makeovers. In the room’s previous incarnation, there were a lot of toys and trinkets and clutter. The walls were painted dark teal and I had these colorful heavy Moroccan drapes on the window. It was very bohemian chic. That atmosphere served me well for a while, but a few years ago I was ready for a change. I really wanted to work in a space that was cleaner and lighter. I wanted a room that I could walk into and immediately feel like it was my own sanctuary. So I packed up all of the clutter, donated a ton of books, and had the room painted.
I love my new space. It’s so peaceful. My favorite piece is the old, repurposed china cabinet I’m using as my book case. I’m very careful about only filling my new space with things that make me happy, like my bulldog lamp and meditating frog statue. Since I was a child I’ve always loved collecting stones and crystals so I created my own little makeshift altar on my window seat.
I have signed art pieces from LeUyen Pham and Heather Ross on my wall alongside The New York Times Children’s Best Sellers lists. I also have a framed email, dated Dec. 24th, 2000 on my wall from my agent, Steven Malk, in which he responded to a submission and offered to represent me. Receiving that email was a huge turning point in my career and so I like to keep it up there to remind me of those early years when all of this was just a pipe dream.
Are there any kind of rituals you do before you start creating?
I wish I could say my day begins with Qi Gong exercises and a kale and acai smoothie but my morning ritual usually goes something like this: Coffee, email, coffee, Facebook, coffee, Twitter, coffee, Instagram, coffee, Words With Friends, coffee, writing.
Do you listen to music while you work?
I never listen to music while I’m writing. I am easily distracted and even instrumental or background mood music can be bothersome to me when I’m working on a story. I like it quiet so I can hear all of the voices in my head.
When you write, do you type your ideas out on the computer, start on paper, or storyboard/map out your text? Walk us through your process.
I always begin any new story with a notebook and pen. Or a paper napkin and pen. Or a gum wrapper and pen. Once I have a complete first draft scribbled in a notebook, I’ll begin the long process of revising it on my computer. I usually end up with multiple versions, countless bloopers, and several alternate endings. Every now and then I’ll get what I call a story download. Those are like gifts from the universe that require very little revision.
Yes, I love when that happens!
Is there any special item/trinket in your space that inspires you?
Shortly after I sold my first picture book to HarperCollins in 2001, I purchased a limited edition numbered serigraph from the Secret Art of Dr. Seuss collection. The piece is called A Man Who Has Made An Unwise Purchase. Making an expensive and frivolous purchase like that was completely out of character for me, (insert husband’s laughter here) but I really wanted to buy something special with part of my first advance check.
When I heard the story behind the painting, I felt even more drawn to the quirky piece. The story goes that Theodore Geisel painted the picture for his editor at Vanguard Press. After being rejected from 27 companies, Dr. Seuss finally found someone who was willing to make an unwise purchase on his non-traditional work. Whenever I look at that enormous, yellow Sneetch I am reminded of the six years it took me to sell my first book and also how important it is for me to continue creating the stories I want to write without worrying about the market.
What is your favorite book? What are you reading now?
My favorite book?! Snort! That is a ridiculously impossible question to ask an author!
I know, it is. Sorry. But, if you had to pick?
If you put a hot glue gun to my head and made me pick one I’d say, Horton Hears A Who by Dr. Seuss because when I read that book as a child it changed the way I looked at the world. Currently, I’m reading Three Times Lucky by the lovely Sheila Turnage.
What colors inspire your creativity? Are those colors incorporated in your space? I have always been drawn to various shades of blue. I had a muralist paint a blue sky on my office ceiling and I love the calming effect is has in my work space.
What advice do you have for people who want to make a personal space where they can be creative?
My advice would be to surround yourself with colors and objects that make you happy or give you a sense of peace. I feel like we are most productive and successful when we allow the natural flow of creative energy from the cosmic pot of infinite potentials to come through us. Anything that makes us more joyful and/or tranquil can help facilitate that magical connection.
So true! It’s like the poet Khalil Gibran said about children—They come through you, but not from you. I would say creating anything is like that. The truly inspired creations come through us and are not from us.
What would you say is the greatest source of inspiration to you as a writer?
That’s difficult to answer because I’m inspired by so many different things! One day I might be inspired by my brilliant, beautiful children and the next day a chocolate frosted donut might be my muse. If I had to single out a “greatest source” of inspiration I guess I would say it’s my insatiable curiosity for finding truth—truths that unite us through humor or adversity or love. I’m inspired to tell stories because I’m always trying to figure out the BIG story.
Oh, I love that!
What’s coming up for you and where can we find out more?
I had two new picture books come out this summer. Dog Days of School, illustrated by Brian Biggs, published by Disney-Hyperion and Gaston, illustrated by Christian Robinson, published by Atheneum/Simon & Schuster. I’m really excited about both of these books and the response to them has been terrific.
This January, the long-awaited sequel to Zombie In Love will be out. I can’t wait! It’s called Zombie In Love: 2 + 1 (Scott Campbell, Atheneum). My website is www.kellydipucchio.com. You can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Words With Friends, and at home with a cup of coffee.
Thank you, Kelly for such a lovely interview! I’m really looking forward to reading your newest books, especially Everyone Loves Bacon!
Please join us next week when author Cynthia Lord shares her adorable writing shed!