by Trudy Harris (author) and Andrew Harris (illustrator)
We are both excited to share some of our thoughts with you about our book Tally Cat Keeps Track. We are going to experiment a bit on this blog by interviewing each other. So here goes…
Andrew to Trudy: What made you want to write a story about a tallying cat?
Trudy: As an educator, I teach tallying and counting by fives to my students. My work at school gave me the idea for the math element, but Tally Cat Keeps Track is more than an adventurous math story. It is a story about competition, diversity, and true friendship.
Andrew to Trudy: All of the cats in Tally Cat Keeps Track do have very diverse and distinct personalities. Were any of those personalities based on people you know?
Trudy: Well, I have known some very competitive people in my life, but none as goofy and competitive as Tally McNally. (And even if I did know someone like Tally, I couldn’t name names here.) I do, however, think all authors use their own experiences as a basis for writing, and I think all readers have probably known people who are like the cats in this story.
Trudy to Andrew: Speaking of real life, many of the readers may not know that you are my son. I’ve heard that some illustrators prefer not to work with authors they know. How did you feel about working with an author you know so well? (Please feel free to be perfectly candid, just remember that I did go through 12 hours of excruciating pain just to bring you into this world.)
Andrew: It might surprise some people to know that most of our communication still went through our editor, so the creative process was not a lot different than working with other authors. In the initial planning phases, we did chat about Mom’s ideas for the book, and I got to hear what she was thinking and add that to my own imagination to create the characters and scenes.
Andrew Harris and Trudy Harris
Trudy to Andrew: What was your favorite scene to illustrate?
Andrew: One of my favorite parts about illustrating is hiding little details, so the first spread is my favorite. I put my youngest daughter’s name in the spread and the area code for my phone number. I also made a reference to my first book 20 Hungry Piggies: A Number Book on the front page of the newspaper. (If you look on the back cover of the book you will also see Boots reading 20 Hungry Piggies. ) On the first spread is also where I introduce the little mouse that tags along on Tally’s adventure.
Trudy to Andrew: It sounds like you have a lot of fun with your illustrations. What do you like best about being a picture book illustrator?
Andrew: I like everything about it. I enjoy being able to work from home and spending a lot of time with my wife and three kids. I like how I get to create something and when I am working I am doing something I love and it doesn’t feet like work.
Andrew to Trudy: What is your next project with Lerner?
Trudy: I am really looking forward to my upcoming book, Perico, because it is so different from my other books with Lerner. This one isn’t in rhyme and isn’t about math. But that’s all I’m going to say about it right now because I don’t want to spoil the surprise. (Look for it in 2011.) In the meantime, we hope to hear from our readers about Tally Cat Keeps Track.