The Color of the Word: An Interview with Peter H. Reynolds, Söyleşi, Şevval BAŞTAN

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The Color of the Word: An Interview with Peter H. Reynolds

03.05.2024 08:55 - Şevval BAŞTAN
The Color of the Word: An Interview with Peter H. Reynolds
İnterview by Şevval Baştan

I was surprised to learn from the short biography on the back of your book "The Dot" that you reproduced and published the books and comics you wrote when you were seven years old. Do you still have any of your childhood work? Have any of them influenced your writing today? I ask this because unfortunately, many children's works are discarded before they have the opportunity to grow up.

Unfortunately, after a half century, every few examples of my early publishing efforts and art have survived. Although the early artifacts have mostly disappeared, I believe it is the confidence these early works inspired that remain with me. Drawing and writing gave me a voice and encouraged me to share my voice with others.

Picasso says he gave his life to draw like a child. When I look at your illustrations, what I like the most is simplicity. Just like a child's. What was it like to get to this point?

en_world I was in my later twenties when I was struggling with my art. I was taking courses to "get better." My mentor, Aldo Servino, who was twice my age told me something that changed the course of my art journey. We were working on murals for a restaurant and he turned to me and said, "Peter, you must learn to be un-careful." That was like the clouds parting and the sun beaming down. "Un-careful." Then I began thinking of what that meant. To relax. To let it flow. To not worry so much. I realized the art I created when I was young was relaxed. It flowed easily without worry.

You mostly write books for children, but some picture books have become popular among adults, almost creating a new genre. What do you think about this trend? Do you consciously address the concerns and issues of adult readers in your writing process?

I always prefer to be called a picture book author. My stories have themes for humans to ponder. I don't consciously write for any particular age. It has delighted me that adults enjoy my books. We all need reminders along the journey to be braver, to be kinder to others and ourselves, and to be more confident about our voices.

My next question is about your wonderful projects with Yusuf/Cat Stevens. I have Peace Train and it's just amazing. I also admire your animated album clips. Could you please share with us the story behind this project? How did it come about? How did you feel when you were approached for this project? What was the preparation process like? And lastly, could you describe your experience working with Yusuf/Cat Stevens?

en_peace Thank you! It was an amazing honor to collaborate with him on such an important project. I'm happy you like them! The three films, including the title track from the album, KING OF A LAND were a joy to create. They are free to see online.

Yusuf wanted to mark the 50th anniversary of his song, Peace Train by doing a picture book. He reached out to Harper Collins Publishing and asked if they could arrange a meeting with me. Within days, I was Zoom chatting with Yusuf.

"Peter, I'm a huge fan of your work," he said.

"I'm a huge fan of YOUR work, Yusuf."

I placed the album on my record player after the call. It was the original album I had purchased back in the early 70's. I closed my eyes and, my using imagination, I created a little movie in my head. I then quickly storyboarded the "film" and there it was: the storyboard for our picture book.

Yusuf has been a wonderful collaborator and has become a friend. We share the same passion for using our art to make the world a better place.

Among your books, do you have a book in which you say "I took a risk and wrote it" even though you were worried that it would sell?

en_play My book, "Playing from the Heart" has a sad ending, although I don't say how it ends, the reader might infer that the boy's father dies. My publisher suggested a happier ending. I asked that we keep it the way I intended, perhaps influenced by my own loss of my father. I'm glad I kept it the way I wanted, but I realize that might have had an effect on sales. I have actually been working on adapting this story to film. It's one of my favorite stories. I'd love for more people to experience it.

You often meet with your little readers. What do they say about your books? What makes them happiest? Have you ever encountered little reviewers?

It is one of the things that brings me great happiness. They share lovely thoughts about my work, but I think what makes them happiest is to be noticed, to be heard.

During the Covid-19 pandemic, many artists and writers found inspiration despite the challenges. How did that time affect you and your work?

en_all_we_need During Covid, I did a daily storytime and drawing activity. It took quite a bit of energy, but I knew it was a way to help people of all ages through a difficult time. I worked on the PEACE TRAIN book with Yusuf/Cat Stevens, which is a story of hope. That was a healing project for me. I also was inspired by my son, Henry who helped me write a book: ALL WE NEED IS LOVE AND A REALLY SOFT PILLOW. The silver-lining of Covid was that I spent much more time with my son. The conversation that happened during a walk on the beach during that first Covid summer lead us to write it down as a story. We shared with my publisher, Scholastic and they immediately said yes.

Marisol runs out of blue paint and decides to dilute the sky and mix the colors. What method did Peter Jr. find when he was restricted from using blue paint to color the sky?

en_sky Nice question. I grew up in a house with seven people. Our family emigrated to America in 1963 and we did not have a lot of money. We didn't have lots of "official" art supplies, but creative people can find a way. Our parents saved cardboard, wood scraps, documents from work destined for the trash. We used them all as art supplies to draw and paint on. My book, SKY COLOR, is about seeing more than the obvious answer. Thinking "outside of the box" allows us to see more possibilities.

I am sure that you have countless new heroes, book ideas, and projects in your mind. But how do you choose among them and prioritize one of them? How do you decide that the idea is good and the timing is right?

I have hundreds of story ideas written down. The way the publishing industry works is that there are two seasons, Fall and Spring. As a courtesy, I only do one original book per publisher per season, although the publishers are okay if I do a few collaborations. I do about 4-6 new projects each year. That helps me shorten the list of possibilities. I try to choose projects that will help people. I recently met a writer, Marc Colagiovanni who wrote a story called IF THINGS AREN'T GOING RIGHT, GO LEFT which is about dealing with our fears, worries, frustrations which seemed very helpful in these challenging times.

I assume your days are generally busy. Have you ever wished, as Leo did, that there was another one of you or even more?

Well, I was born with a twin. My brother, Paul has been a great supporter of my work and helps me stay on track and get my work done. I DO wish there was a way to share more of my stories more quickly!

Your books are read all over the world. Do you worry that what you want to say in your books may not be fully conveyed in translations?

en_dot I DO worry about the translations. There is no way for me to tell if the translation really captures what I meant, unless my readers tell me. Fortunately, my drawings are the same no matter what country publishes the book, so at least I can hope the ideas are conveyed to some degree. I was told by a friend in Japan, that my book THE DOT was translated by a famous poet there and that he did a marvelous translation.

I welcome my readers to share how they enjoyed the translations, the stories, and how the books have impacted their lives. It is incredibly rewarding to know that my stories speak universally.

Many years ago, I had a dream where I saw hundreds of thousands of people. I looked at the crowd and said out loud, " I want to meet each and every person."

I think this was a premonition that, through my books, I could indeed connect with millions of people on our planet.

Yazar: Şevval BAŞTAN - Yayın Tarihi: 03.05.2024 08:55 - Güncelleme Tarihi: 29.04.2024 03:40

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2002 yılında Bursa'da doğdu. Ortaokul ve liseyi İmam Hatip'te bitirerek hayatına kıdemli bir İmam Hatipli olarak devam etmektedir. Şu an için Kocaeli Üniversitesi Türkçe Öğretmenliği bölümünde öğrenci olup amatör olarak çizerlik yapmaktadır.

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