105 Ways to Give a Book

Mélanie Watt Interview

We’re closing out the week’s blog tour with a MotherReader special WhenWhereWhoWhatWhyHow interview. Enjoy!

When did you start writing?

I wrote little stories as a kid to accompany my drawings... nothing fancy! But my first real story was Leon the Chameleon, which I wrote in an art class in 1999 to accompany my illustrations. It later became my first published book.

Where can you do your best thinking?

I think about stories and characters all the time, pretty much. I’m inspired by events and people around me, by my childhood, by kids, so the creative thinking never shuts off.

Who influences you personally and/or professionally?

People who accomplish great things and leave their mark, whether it’s in the arts, the environment, socially... I get inspired by the amazing things that are happening out in the world in various fields.

What messages are we giving to kids that can make them afraid to meet new people, go new places, try new things, etc.?

I remember growing up and being afraid of things based on my parents’ experiences. Like I was afraid of riding a bike and going skiing, but it was my parents that had bad experiences with that, not me, but it was enough to make me want to avoid bikes and skiing. Obviously parents want to protect their kids and guide them through life, but in my case, thinking back on it, I find that it was important for me to discover things on my own, and sometimes it involves taking the risk of getting on that bike and taking a fall!

How do the Scaredy stories address those messages for children?

Hopefully when reading the Scaredy Squirrel books, kids will question his thought process. There’s nothing more interesting to me than when kids ask, “Why is he afraid of Martians if Martians don’t exist?” I think Scaredy is a good example of how fear can take ridiculous proportions, how overthinking things can distract you from doing actual things. And most importantly, how never taking risks will not only prevent you from discovering what’s really real in the world but will also prevent you from knowing what you’re capable of (just like when Scaredy discovered he’s a flying squirrel by leaping into the unknown).

Why do today’s kids relate so strongly to Scaredy?

I think they can see a little of themselves in him... teens and adults too... I hear! Plus, I think he’s appealing because he’s hard working, funny and doesn’t give up. Scaredy doesn’t claim to be perfect and in the end he doesn’t come across as preachy. He encourages kids to take baby steps towards facing new challenges.

What’s next for you?

More Scaredy adventures for sure! I just finished Chester’s sequel coming out in the fall. And I’m developing new ideas and characters for new upcoming books.

Next week readers can continue following the Mélanie Watt Blog Tour in Canada. No passport required. On Monday read about the progression of Scaredy at KidsSpace Blog, on Tuesday check out kids’ questions at HRM Parent, and on Wednesday learn about Mélanie’s creative process at Shelf Elf Reading Blog.

Thanks to Mélanie and Scaredy for stopping by!


heather (errantdreams) said...

Scaredy doesn’t claim to be perfect and in the end he doesn’t come across as preachy.

IMO, these two characteristics are so important!

jama said...

There's just something about that wide-toothed smile. Irresistible. Thanks for the lovely interview!