Illustration of "Brianna's Book Stop" by Jeffrey Duckworth / Book Cover for WHERE DO DIGGERS SLEEP AT NIGHT? (on the bookmobile) by Christian Slade

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Good News Day Tuesday: An Interview with Author/Illustrator Joyce Wan (in celebration of her TWO about to be released books!)

Happy Good News Day Tuesday! Today I am so excited to be celebrating with the fantastic author/illustrator Joyce Wan! 

Joyce creates some of the most adorable board books I have ever seen! In fact, she is busy creating lots and lots of amazing books! (Just read the interview to see all that she's working on.) 

And, just like Tina Kugler (the awesome author/ illustrator I interviewed last week), Joyce is also represented by that super-awesome agent, Teresa Kietlinski. :o)

A sketch by author/illustrator Joyce Wan 
Hope you appreciate Joyce's insights into her creative process as much as  I do! Enjoy the interview!:

Another wonderful sketch by author/illustrator Joyce Wan
How did you come up with the idea for these lovely "What Am I?" books?  
I've always loved wood textures and even offer a line of cards printed on actual birch wood veneer from sustainably harvested trees. ( ) My business card is also printed on wood too. I wanted to incorporate wood textures into illustrations for my next book which naturally led to the idea of some sort of tree book. The original manuscript was written as a picture book about a tree (very close to what Owl & Friends is like) which the publisher broke down into two board books when it was acquired. The textures were created by scanning actual wood and then incorporated into the art using Photoshop. I also love surprise endings in books (and movies for that matter). One that begs another sitting and makes sense when you go back over. These books offers a surprise ending and done in such a way for the wee’est of readers. I look forward to introducing young children to some of nature's cutest creatures and their natural habitat!

Can you describe your creative process? As an author/illustrator how do your writing and drawing interact?
I’m a big concept person so usually a concept is what comes first. Then I try to flesh it out with words and then, interestingly enough, pictures come last for me. Although, as I’m thinking of the words I may have images in my head. When I have a draft of a manuscript that I’m somewhat happy with, I’ll create a dummy for it. As I’m creating the dummy, I may change more words at that point and often simplify too when I find that a lot can actually just be said in the pictures. So it’s a constant back and forth at the dummy stage.

What other books should we be on the lookout for from you (past and future)?
I’m the author and illustrator of Greetings from Kiwi and Pear (Blue Apple Books, 2009), You Are My Cupcake (Cartwheel, 2011), We Belong Together (Cartwheel, 2011), and several forthcoming titles including: Hug You, Kiss You, Love You (Cartwheel, 2013), Mama, Mama (Cartwheel, 2014), My Lucky Little Dragon (Cartwheel, 2014), Whale in My Swimming Pool (FSG, 2015) and I will be illustrating a book called Sleepyheads by Sandra Howatt (Beach Lane, 2014).

What strategies do you use to keep up with your many upcoming projects?  (Congratulations! It is so exciting to see how very many forthcoming projects you have!)
Although it seems like a lot of projects, behind the scenes they are staggered in a way that I’m not ever really working on two things at the same time. There’s a lot of waiting time for your editors to get back to you. So if sketches are done on one book I may start on the finishes for another while I wait for comments on the sketches. Also, I’m one of those folks where, the more things I have on my plate the better I do. I love being busy.

What advice would you give to aspiring author/illustrators?
Immerse yourself in the industry, join SCBWI and attend their conferences and take advantage of all that they offer (one-to-one critiques, retreats, workshops, etc.), continuously visit your local bookstore/library and read/look as much as you can – analyze the books, break them apart and ask yourself why are they successful, keep track of all your ideas in a notebook of some sort, the ones that stick in your brain are the ones to work on (one of my more successful books “You Are My Cupcake”, was in my notebook/head for a year before I decided to create a dummy for it and pitch it), create as many book dummies as you can, keep writing and illustrating. Whenever I find myself at a road block, I like to watch this video:

 Joyce Wan designed her first greeting card when she was in first grade for a city-wide greeting card design contest. The design won first place and was subsequently sold through a major department store chain. Twenty years later that design would inspire a design studio called Wanart whose products featuring Joyce's designs are now sold world wide. Joyce also teaches courses on greeting card design and art licensing at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Joyce is inspired by Japanese pop culture, modern architecture, and things that make her smile. Joyce hails from Boston, Massachusetts and currently lives in New York City. Through all her work, Joyce hopes to inspire people to embrace the spirit of childhood and follow their dreams. Visit her online at  

Congratulations, Joyce! Thank you so much for these very informative answers! 
Looking forward to reading your latest books!


  1. Good interview, about great PBs. I wish you much success.

  2. Congrats and Good Luck Joyce. I love the idea of using wood in your board books.

  3. Wonderful images. I particularly love the owl! Best of luck with the books.

  4. Thank you again for this wonderful interview, Joyce! And congratulation on all your adorable books!