Joining Incredible Forces – In Conversation with Teena Raffa-Mulligan and Amy Calautti

#whenthemoonisasmile #blogtour #booksontourpr #day4

Sense the joy and warmth between these two creators in this joint interview between long-time, established author, Teena Raffa-Mulligan, and talented emerging illustrator, Amy Calautti. Do they ever disagree?!


Hello, Teena and Amy! It’s a pleasure to speak with both of you. Congratulations on the release of your touching book, When the Moon is a Smile! How would you describe the process and working with one another? How were you paired? Who did the most work? – be honest! 😊

T: Amy and I both live in Perth but haven’t actually met yet! We’re both members of SCBWI so we’ll have a chance to get together at the Rottnest Retreat this month. The collaboration came about through social media. I submitted When the Moon is a Smile to Jennifer Sharp at Daisy Lane Publishing during an open submission call. Jen and I had both spent a wonderful time at the 2017 Serenity Press Retreat at Castle Crom in Ireland, then enjoyed a follow-up stay in London for a week, touring the city together and visiting the London Book Fair. Jen has involved me every step of the way in the production of this book, including finding an illustrator. We’d both seen some of Amy’s work on FB and thought she’d be the right fit for my story. Amy said yes and got to work. I offered some feedback along the way but that was all.

A: Teena and Jen were a pleasure to work with and let me have a lot of creative freedom. It really does take a lot of imagination and time to give each spread the justice the text deserves. I wanted this book to be full of lovely moments and show a sensitivity and love between the characters. I have no tactful way to say this, but I think everyone knows the illustrator does more work. Ha ha!

T: Yes, the illustrator definitely does more work. No argument from me, Amy!

Amy, what were your initial thoughts upon receiving the manuscript for the first time? Did the story resonate with you? How did the images form – immediately in your mind or did they develop as a work in progress?

When I first read the manuscript I knew it was a story I would like to illustrate, it is very warm and heartfelt.  And in a way I could be of service to others, a family breakdown can be devastating to everyone involved. For this book the illustrations flowed fairly easily. I knew pretty early on that I wanted the book to be colourful to help deliver the “mood” of each spread.

Teena, what were your initial thoughts upon viewing Amy’s first images? Did she capture your story as you had imagined, and hoped?

T: I knew we’d found the right illustrator from the time I saw Amy’s initial character ideas. There’s such a sense of joy and playfulness in the early spreads where father and daughter are having fun together. There’s also warmth and sensitivity. I’m absolutely thrilled with her interpretation of my story.  It exceeded my expectations.

Do you also collaborate when it comes to marketing your book? How do you go about promotion via social media and offline presentations/appearances?

T: We are collaborating on that aspect, tossing around ideas and updating each other on what we’re doing. Joint presentations are definitely an option. It’s always fun to have author and illustrator share their process in the one session.

A: I like to spread the word on social media. Videos and pretty pictures are a lovely thing for people to have pop up in their news feed. I’m looking forward to our joint book launch, it’s always a bonus for everyone that comes to have both creators there.

What is your favourite part of When the Moon is a Smile? Why?

T: It’s a toss-up between the spread where father and daughter are down among the flowers listening for fairy laughter and the racing and chasing along the seashore spread. Maybe the seashore, because the ocean is connected to so many special memories of my dad.

A: I think I’m going to say the ocean spread too! It took about seven hours just to paint it. I have a time lapse video I made of this one on my Instagram

(Read Amy’s art process here).

What do you hope readers will take away from their reading experience with your book? Are there particular elements, in the words or pictures, that you aimed to resonate with your audience?

T: I hope they will be left with a smile and a warm, fuzzy feeling that the love you share can get you through the tough times. I also hope the words I chose to use capture the loving relationship between a father and his child and how this is expressed in his willingness to enter her world of imagination and play.

A: I hope what resonates is that even though something sad has happened, it doesn’t mean that you are going to be forgotten about. You are important, and you are loved.

Do you have any tips for aspiring or new authors and illustrators working in a partnership with one another?

T: I would encourage authors not to be too fixed in their ideas of how the illustrations should look. An illustrator can bring a level of creativity to your story that you might not have thought of, so be open to this potential.

A: Be open to changes. The suggested changes were very minor, but I decided to re-think what I had done and came up with something much better in the end.

Final Fun Question! What was the most fun activity you did with your dad when you were little?

T: Sitting in parked the car at the beach on a wintry day and eating hot chips while the waves crashed and the sea gulls hovered for a treat and Dad shared stories of when he was a boy.   

A: My Dad use to wheel my brother and I down a hill in our block trolley! Ah, the good old days before the internet, and safety was a minimal concern. But we had a good time. Nice work, Dad!

Thank you so much, Teena and Amy for sharing your collaborative creative journey with us! xx

 

 #authorillustratorinterview #connections


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