Interview with Heath McKenzie!
I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Heath McKenzie, author and illustrator of the new picture book My Rules for Being a Pretty Princess. I love all his answers!
What is your favorite thing about writing/illustrating for children?
The freedom! The freedom to run amok! Creating a children’s book is really just like creating a door that can open to reveal anything you want! Stories can be anything you want them to be, which is always a very exciting prospect! Plus, writing and illustrating is wonderful because you can bring the world you’ve created to life completely – and you’re free to change it and add all sorts of little details as you go because it’s your world – as opposed to illustrating for someone else.
Is there anything about writing/illustrating that you find particularly challenging?
The freedom! It can be REALLY daunting working a story out! Staring at a blank page while you try and figure out where to start! Then getting the words just right so things come across to the reader how you want them to can be really tricky to get just right. And then illustrating, designing characters and getting them to behave just how you’d like is quite a challenge too! From great big action packed moments down to little, intimate moving moments – they’re all tricky to get just right combining the words and the pictures perfectly!
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
This is a tough question! Can I have more than one? To be honest, as boring as it sounds – a really, really good vanilla is always pretty lovely! Then again – I know of a chocolate ice cream that has brownie chunks and ripples of gooey chocolate sauce through it too…that’s pretty awesome! Or peanut butter – you can never go wrong with peanut butter! (Or an awesome creamy strawberry…see, too hard to pick one!!!)
Do you have any hidden talents?
I can play the piano okay…I’m no musician but I can find my way around one!
What did you want to be when you grew up?
The first thing I can remember wanting to be when I grew up was a zookeeper! I figured that was just a job you could do that would involve working at the zoo – going about feeding the animals and playing with them etc! It’s now fairly specialized so I’d probably need some training beyond my ability to successfully own a dog!
If you could have any superpower, what would it be?
I’m torn between being able to fly (classic…) and Spider-man abilities. All that swinging about through tall buildings looks really fun! But I could do that flying…so flying it is! Ooh – or teleportation! Just disappearing and reappearing wherever you want…think of how much you’d save on travel expenses! You could just pop to Paris for an hour to grab some groceries!
What a fun interview! Thanks for all your great answers Heath! I love your honesty about the challenges you face in writing and illustrating children’s books. I also love that you wanted to be a zookeeper. 🙂
About Heath McKenzie:
Heath McKenzie has illustrated numerous picture books and children’s book jackets. He lives with his wife and kids in Melbourne, Australia. Visit him online at heathmck.com.
About the Book:
- Age Range: 4 – 8 years
- Hardcover: 32 pages
- Publisher: Sourcebooks Jabberwocky (June 2, 2015)
Do you really want to be a pretty princess?
Rules are meant to be broken in this laugh-out-loud picture book about staying true to yourself.
One little girl’s greatest wish is to become a princess, but when a beautiful real-life princess overhears and offers to grant her wish by taking the little girl under her wing and showing her what a princess’s life is like, she discovers that the rules of being a royal are not fun at all.
First she has to be laced into a body-squeezing ball gown. Then she has to have her hair painfully pulled and tugged into the perfect royal coiffure.
At the delicious feast, our little princess wants to dig in, but she is chastised to eat daintily. After spending the rest of the day waiting around for a handsome prince to arrive, the little girl decides it is time to make up her own rules…
This delightfully subversive picture book teaches girls to be themselves and to play and use their imaginations with unbridled joy and enthusiasm: clumsy dancing, crazy scribbling, and all.
A triumphant story of understanding one’s self and staying true to who you are no matter what.
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