Three Times a Charm is a weekly feature that spotlights authors, illustrators, bloggers, agents, editors or promoters from the publishing industry.
Happy Halloween, everyone! This week writer and illustrator, K. Michael Crawford joins us. Michael, thank you so much for coming! I love hosting illustrators. Can you tell us about you?
Once Upon a Magical Life
Once upon a time… How fun those words are to me, because with those four words anything and everything is possible. Those four words, even though they are used less today, still hold true with today’s stories and books. One moment you’re just your average Joe eating your oatmeal and the next, the whole world is there to explore just by opening a book. What adventures a child can have just by going on one magical journey through someone else’s words.
Once upon a time… I pretty much have and had a normal life. Well, maybe not. I don’t know too many people who got to be in a Walt Disney parade and hold a human brain. No, not at the same time, that would be a Tim Burton film. My life includes a cast of characters of family, Pirates, friends, cows, dragons, dogs, rabbits, and fairies who I grew up with on a daily basis. Yes, in my world fairies and dragons do exist. I am the first one to clap my hands to bring Tinkerbell back to life.
Once upon a time… What made my life not so normal was that fact that I had no problem using my imagination. One minute, I could be a pirate looting for treasure and the next, a rock star. Never mind the fact, I couldn’t sing worth a hoot and a holler. I would grab that make-believe microphone and belt out the song as if there was no tomorrow. Never mind the fact, the real music was blaring in the background and would cover up any sour note coming out of my mouth.
Once upon a time… So with that kind of passion and imagination it only seemed right that I went in the business of Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating. It’s the one job that let’s me use all my quirky talents (silliness, finding the humor in everything, being weird) and retain my ability to stay five years old forever. Besides, the only other great job for me would be to rule England and Queen Elizabeth already said “No.” Believe me, I asked. But you never know and I haven’t given up that dream just yet.
Once upon a time… Everyday, I grab a hold of my imagination and pencil to see what adventures I will have in my whimsical world. There is no telling where I will go, because with imagination everything is possible.
Once upon a time, there was a writer and an illustrator who wished for a magical life of writing and illustrating children’s books and got to live Happily Ever Art.
Tell us about your most recent projects.
In 2006, I noticed that children were not using their imaginations, so I created The Mystery of Journeys Crowne in the Bazel Lark Series, where the reader has to use their imagination, learn to figure out clues and make choices in order to know what to draw on the page. There is also a mystery the reader has to figure out in each book that hopefully they will give them a little piece of the magic I am trying to create with my work.
Since the creation of The Mystery of Journeys Crowne book, five books have followed with more to come, in the pursuit of getting kids to use their imagination. In Batty Malgoony’s Mystic Carnivale, the reader must draw in all the carnivale characters. The Island of Zadu is the second book in the Bazel Lark Series where again the reader has to answer clues to know what to draw on the page. In Professor Horton Hogwash’s Museum of Ridiculous, the reader has to draw in the museum collection, or not, after all it is the Museum of Riduculous. They can draw in anything they want as long as the reader is using their imagination. One Whimsical Zoofari is a clue/activity coloring book for 4 to 7 year olds. In 2013, the third book in the Bazel Lark Series will be hitting the market and How to create your own Comic Book (Includes a workbook and videos that show step-by-step how to create your own comic book).
Now, for the Threes. Share with us your top 3’s to help us know you a little better.
- Top 3 tools of the trade you couldn’t live without.
I couldn’t live with out my imagination or drawing. When I can’t use my imagination and draw every day, I have been told that I get a little cranky to put it mildly. My imagination tool is so important to who I am and how I see the world that not to use it as much as I can seems silly to me and makes me a little grumpy if I can’t use it.
The computer has been a great asset to my job and has made my job easier to get my art and books out to the world. Believe me when I say that the computer can also be a hindrance, since there are monsters in my computer that do everything in their power to mess up what I have created or produced, which helps me to keep in mind that it is only a tool and monsters only live under my bed. Some days it’s a great tool, some days not so much.
The last tool I can’t give up or I will be arrested for drawing on everything and anything is my sketchbook and pencil. (If you ever hear that I was arrested for graffiti, please bring me paper and pencil to the jail.) For me the two go together and I feel like I have magical pencils. The most amazing things come out of it when I put the pencil to paper. I have come to realize that anytime someone puts pencil to paper the most amazing things are created. Countries are formed, works of art are developed, ideas come to life and inventions become real. There are not too many other tools in this world that can claim the fame of these two small objects.
- Top 3 personal and/or professional goals.
It’s not so much a career or work for me, because when you are an artist there is no separation between the two, personal and business life. I go on a trip and the first thing I do is to think how I can incorporated what I just saw into my work. So all my goals benefit both. I have had these goals for a long time and still working on making them happen.
- One of my characters in the Macy Thanksgiving Day Parade and I am sitting in the seat section waving as my quirky character floats by.
- Create as many magical books as I can. (I am pretty much making that goal happen.)
- Develop the Start Trek beam me up system so that I can travel as much as I want and get there in the blink of an eye. No more sticking me in a tin can with a bunch of other people I don’t know for hours on end. “Oh look, after seventeen hours in the air and they finally turned off the seatbelt sign!”
- Top 3 professions you wanted to be when you grew up.
You might think I am kidding about this, but I am not. The three top professions I wanted to be and do when I was growing up were more about being certain people and the magic they created with their work.
I wanted to be Leonard de Vinci, because of all the cool stuff he invented in his lifetime. It’s just amazing at all the things he created just by looking at something and seeing all the possibilities of the object. Where it could go and what could be made out of it. In my spare time, I am always creating and building usual things. I have always had this need to challenge myself to see what I was capable of creating, so when I am not creating books, I build all kinds of things. I have a studio filled with strange creations; turtle checkers, gourd birds, and pandas floating in 3-D boats. I would have love to have had Leonard for dinner, so we could chat about his work.
The next person was Walt Disney and all the magic things he created for the world. He was one of the people in my world who taught me to see the magic and learn how to create it. I always wonder if you could learn how to create magical things or were you just born with it. I am still learning how to create magic in my work. I do have days where no matter what I do, the work need to be put to rest in the trash.
Last, but not least, I wanted to be the next Dr. Seuss. I use to walk around my house at the age of twelve and say I am going to be the next Dr. Seuss. The quirky characters and the silly words he made up. I thought that it would be so cool to live in a house with a mouse eating green eggs and ham with Sam I am. Life doesn’t get any better than that. I got so close to meeting the great and wonderful wizard, Dr. Seuss, through his best and long time pal, Maurice Noble, but it wasn’t meant to be. Every quirky and silly character I create is a tribute to Dr. Seuss and his silliness.
Where can our readers learn more about your writing and your art?
My website: www.happilyeverart.com,
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/happilyeverart and http://www.facebook.com/pages/K-Michael-Crawford/131899631023?ref=hl
Thanks, Michael, for talking with us on Three Times A Charm. It has been so much fun getting to know you better.
I am always looking for guests for Three Times A Charm. If you are an author, illustrator or book reviewer, an agent or an editor. If you have a book, a blog or a business related to children’s publishing that you’d like people to know about, feel free to contact me about a future appearance.