I have known Diane
Browning for many years. She has been attending local and national
SCBWI events as long as I can remember. Diane honed her craft, learned
the business and finally was published as a writer/illustrator. I am
honored that Diane asked me to kick off her blog tour for her first
book, Signed Abiah Rose. Comment on the tour and you could win an
autograph copy of the book.
How long have you been an author/illustrator?
I’ve been a writer/artist all my life. I won my first writing honors as a child at the Dallas library’s creative writing club. At age seven I won a Siamese kitten at an art show (I did a painting of a kitten). I went on to become an illustrator, designer and painter, writing in my spare time.
I’m a long-time member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Abigail Samoun, (editor extraordinaire!) at Tricycle Press, requested I send her my manuscript and sample illustrations for Signed, Abiah Rose after seeing my portfolio and book dummy at the 2008 Summer Conference portfolio display. So I attribute my new title of author/illustrator to the sale of Abiah.
What is the most valuable advice you can give to a newly-published writer/illustrator?
I’m only ‘published’ as of today – I’m busy asking for advice, myself! What I can advise, from experience, is to begin to prepare early. Investigate ways you find comfortable to promote your book, either on line or through personal appearances. Join a schmooze group or a critique group, if you haven’t already. Writer and illustrator friends are supportive, helpful and inspiring. Try not to get too stressed, confused and overwhelmed. Keep reading, and keep writing. And lastly, enjoy it all!
What is one of your favorite children’s books that you’d like to recommend?
I read books mostly for enjoyment, but I study them as well. Two favorites of mine accomplish very important writing goals. The first, Eloise Jarvis McGraw’s Mara, Daughter of the Nile, vividly and immediately establishes a believable time and place. Though set in ancient Egypt, you are totally present in the town, on the river and in the palace the author describes. I believe Mara is still in print – it should be, because it’s beautifully written. I was thrilled to meet Ms. McGraw at an SCBWI conference a few years ago – I am such a fan, and read all her books. A more recent favorite is Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane, largely because of the emotional power – pathos, drama and emotion invested in the character of an inanimate object. How can I call it an ‘object’? I loved that china rabbit.
What are you working on now?
At Writer’s Day this year I won the picture book contest with a story about an English country fair, so I’m working on preparing the dummy for that. I’m also trying to develop one of the seven picture books I just wrote in seven days during Paula Yoo’s National Picture Book Writing Week extravaganza. Needless to say, it requires lots of work! I’m a Gemini – I work on several things at once. I sometimes read two books at the same time, too!
What is your favorite desert, and why?
I’m a vegetarian, and a rather strict one, too. No wheat, dairy, or ….. sugar. I’ve had the same stresses and difficult moments as other people, but have managed to keep to my dietary plan for many years – until I began working on the illustrations for Abiah! Due to first-book stress I succumbed then (and often) to crackers, bread and sweets. As to my favorite desert (prior to conversion, and until I can regain self-control) is a tie between chocolate anything or fruit tarts. The ones with custard in a pie shell and mandarin oranges, berries and a glaze over the top. I first had one while living in Switzerland, at a favorite little tea room with incredibly delicious, not-too-sweet, confections. Someone told me that in Europe they use beet sugar instead of cane sugar. Actually Viktor Benes (at Gelson’s Supermarkets) does a close to perfect (and closer to home) version!
Here is a summary of the book.
“Best not, Abiah Rose,” everyone says. Serious painting is “not girl’s work.” Best not show your paintings. Best not sign them either. But still Abiah continues to make her mark on each of her paintings: a small, hidden rose. Signed, Abiah Rose honors the everyday struggles of anonymous early American women artists whose only encouragement was their own inborn drive to create.
Diane Browning bio:
Diane Browning (www.dianebrowningillustrations.com) grew up in Dallas and Hollywood. She received her art training at Pasadena’s Art Center College of Design. She also studied in Italy and with Uri Shulevitz in upstate New York. Before becoming a children’s book author and illustrator her career was in advertising illustration and design, and as an exhibiting fine artist. Her first picture book, Signed Abiah Rose, (released June 8, 2010) has received a starred review and been named to the list of Top Ten Historical Titles for Youth for 2010 by Booklist.