This week we welcome the wonderfully talented Laurie Keller!
Debbie: Tell us a little about yourself.
Laurie: I'm originally from Michigan. I always loved art and went to Kendall College of Art and Design and majored in Illustration. I got a job as an illustrator at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, MO. I worked there for 7 1/2 years then quit to move to NYC to become freelance artist. The week after I quit my job I got a call from Henry Holt and Company that they wanted to publish my first story, The Scrambled States of America. I've worked with them ever since. I loved living in NYC but moved back to Michigan several years ago. I live in a teeny cottage in the woods along Lake Michigan.
Debbie: And, of course, we want to know all about your latest book!
Laurie: My latest book is a sequel to The Scrambled States of America and it's called, The Scrambled States of America Talent Show. This time the states are getting together again for a big talent show. But Georgia learns she's suffering from stage fright and learns to deal with it in an unexpected way.
Debbie: Other books, and and projects on the horizon?
Laurie: I illustrated a book called Me and My Animal Friends (Fall 2009, Henry Holt). It's a song actually by Ralph Covert of Ralph's World. My editor's kids loved his music and she got hooked on it, too, so she contacted him and signed him up for a 4-book contract to turn some of his songs into books. I illustrated the 2nd one in the series. I'm just starting my next book that I'm writing/illustrating. I don't know what it's going to be called yet but it's about the importance and power of smiling.
Debbie: Upcoming appearances?
Laurie: I'll be at Barnes and Noble at the Rivertown Mall in Grandville on February 21st.
Debbie: Your favorite places in Michigan?
Laurie: I love the culture and diversity of Ann Arbor. I love driving north along the coast of Lake Michigan. Just east is Torch Lake which is gorgeous! I haven't spent much time in the Upper Peninsula but very eager to go to Pictured Rocks.
Debbie: Favorite Michigan event or happening?
Laurie: I attended the Rothbury Music Festival last summer and that was a whole lot of fun. I enjoy the East Lansing Children's Film Festival and the Ann Arbor Art Fair.
Debbie: A few fun Michigan people we should all know about?
Laurie: Amy Young, Margaret Willey, Sue Stauffacher, Christine MacLean and Lori McElrath-Eslick are all incredibly talented children's book writers and/or illustrators who live here in West Michigan. Dave Coverly is a nationally-known, syndicated cartoonist who lives in Ann Arbor.
Debbie: Something you'd like a non-Michigander to know about our state?
Laurie: How a half-hour walk along Lake Michigan can leave you feeling like you just had a vacation in some exotic location.
Debbie: Some residents of Michigan refer to themselves as Michiganders; others Michiganians. For our ongoing vote tally: Are you a "Michigander" or a "Michiganian"?
Laurie: I used to say Michiganian but now I say Michigander. I guess I just cancelled them both out. I'll commit...Michigander.
Debbie: Laurie, it's been a pleasure! Thank you for joining us today.