WILL WRITE FOR COOKIES
INSIGHT – INFORMATION – INSPIRATION
CARINA POVARCHIK AND RAVEN HOWELL
(That’s Carina up top and Raven below – both portraits were created by Carina)
KABOOM! This is going to be an explosively awesome post, my friends! So much talent in one spot – I feel blessed to be part of this incredible kidlit community where gifted women (and men), beautiful words and glorious illustrations surround us.
Both Carina and Raven are part of Storm Literary Agency, so they are agency sisters. Lucky me!
And one lucky person is going to win a copy of both of the amazing picture books they collaborated on. Just leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.
Before we begin the interview, here’s a little bit about each of them:
Carina Povarchik is a children’s illustrator, Portraiture.
She lives in Argentina. Loves running, chocolate, birds and clouds and she signs her works as Catru. To learn more about Carina and her amazing work:
Raven Howell is author and poet of several children’s books including the recent releases Greetings, My Community, Shimmer/Songs of Night, and A Star Full of Sky winning several awards including Best in Children’s Literature and Mom’s Gold Choice Award. She writes poetry for a variety of magazines such as Highlights for Children, Ladybug, Jack and Jill, Humpty Dumpty, Cricket, Spider, Babybug, Hello Highlights, and High Five. Her work is included in anthologies, DVD’s and CD’s. Raven has received awards for poetry from the SCBWI and Poetry Soup. She enjoys presenting children’s writing workshops in libraries and to classrooms. Raven is Creative & Publishing Advisor for Red Clover Reader, and represented by Essie White of Storm Literary Agency.
Living in the Hudson Valley with her family, Raven enjoys long dawn hikes, being at the beach, and munching on warm butterscotch chip cookies. To learn more about Raven and her wonderful books:
Welcome to Carina and Raven…I am thrilled that you are stopping by today to chat with us. I know everyone is anxious to hear a bit of your back stories…and also how it was to collaborate on these beautiful books.
ME: Who were your favorite authors/illustrators when you were a child?
CARINA: As a kid, I loved to read tons. My favorite authors were usually from comic books. Like Asterix, Mafalda, and many more. The one from my childhood that more influenced me as an illustrator was Quino (creator of Mafalda) I loved his simple inked line being so expressive.
RAVEN: I was surrounded by books and artwork as a child and my parents would always read a book with me before lights out. It was my favorite time! In fact, when I was about 4 years old, because I was so very excited for my bedtime story with my dad one evening, I rushed into the bedroom literally diving into bed – only to hit the side of my face on the edge of the radiator nearby! A few stitches later, we were back from the hospital and heading once again for story time. So, I still have that small scar by the side of my eye. Ha! A memory of my lifelong yearning for literature and poetry.
On my bookshelf then? Green Eggs and Ham, Where the Wild Things Are, The Giving Tree, Madeline, Winnie the Pooh, The Snowy Day…several years later I begged and borrowed every single Nancy Drew book in the Carolyn Keene series, voraciously reading one after another.
ME: What do you know now that you wish you knew when you first started writing/illustrating?
CARINA: Oh so many things. You get to grow up so much in any path you take in life. But I would say that what now has made me free compared to my very first steps into illustrating is that, I’ve finally came to stop pursuing doing things thinking people will like this and have started making things because I really want to do them. And of course, I love getting people’s love and support, which totally makes my day. But me being genuine is something I’ve found people appreciate even more. When I’m not doing things because it may be trendy, and just because I really feel them, adds a whole new value to them, a new hearted value to say it somehow.
RAVEN: I wrote my first poems and stories as a child. I’ve been a working children’s author and poet for the past 25 years after I phased out of songwriting and writing verse for greeting cards in my teens and twenties.
I learned over the years (at first, a bit surprisingly) that the business, our world, trends, and the writing community changes dramatically in many ways as years pass. I get a kick out of reminiscing with other authors about the “old days” when the editors would set up book tours and meet with you casually and congenially or when you’d have to wait “mailbox months” for a submission response because snail mail was the only format we could use. One learns you simply have to go with the flow and enjoy the changes. They’re going to come anyway, whether you like it or not.
ME: Where do you like to write/illustrate – inside, outside, special room, laptop, pen and paper?
CARINA: I love my iPad to illustrate. I do love to paint with real acrylics sometimes, and do some inked drawings too. But if I had to choose only one thing to carry with me for illustrating then it would be my iPad. I have many spots in my house where I like to sit to draw, and I also go to work to a colleague’s studio every day. That’s easier because I can focus on illustrating 100% and not be distracted by any house chores. And there is music, and cookies haha.:
RAVEN: I enjoy writing on my laptop. Still, I jot many things down by hand – in notebooks, on all sorts of sticky notepads, and I do lots of writing on my phone app, before transferring to my computer.
ME: When do you write – early morning, late in the day, middle of the night, on schedule, as the muse strikes?
CARINA: I usually illustrate in the afternoons, I do have that schedule but sometimes I’m not inspired at all and the whole afternoon seems like a waste of time to me. But I try always my best to get inspired on those moments, or I just go outside for a walk to change my point of view of things. Of course once in a while I may get inspired at night. You never know ha.
RAVEN: Recently a fellow author friend expressed some disbelief and amazement that I actually take part in and enjoy my miles long daily morning walks and hikes. For me it’s just always been a part of my schedule since I started having children- a precious and inspirational time for myself. So much of my poetry is written when I’m out there on the mountainside conversing with the red fox leaping the near-by log, or catching sight of the owl and woodpecker, and entranced by the peeper’s marsh song.
I certainly write when the muse strikes, and that’s often. Funny, a definition of “muse” is the Goddess of Art. Children’s illustrations such as Carina Povarchik’s excite my heart. In turn, it plugs me into the wonders of life I write about.
ME: Why do you write for children?
CARINA: I think my style has been always quite whimsical, a bit funny and totally children’s like. I love illustrating for them because they really know how to play. They know how to not take the world so seriously. Everything is possible. And making them happy, well, makes my heart sing!
RAVEN: I enjoy writing for children in hopes that it inspires life-long readers and new generations of people to experience the more peaceful, magical and enchanting aspect of a world that can appear harsh at times. I write for that one day when I can leave behind a poem that was viewed by a child as their healing balm in some way.
ME: This has been amazing! Can I ask both of you if you have any thoughts or advice for aspiring writers, please share.
CARINA: Advice for aspiring illustrators, would be the same old advice… that is always easier said than done, but still is so important. Persevere. Work Hard.
Those two simple words really include it all, all the things you have to do and all the feelings you’ll need to go thru.
RAVEN: If you are a writer, illustrator, or aspiring poet, let yourself be inspired by both the most common and the most unusual things – then everything in between will come as easy as pie, umm…or as easy as baking my chocolate chip cookies! Ha!
Just this past week I wrote poetry inspired by my cat throwing up, the bottom of the chip bag where the pieces left are crumbled so small they’re hard to pick up, and a moment when my youngest son walked into the room with a big smile on his face and laughed over a recent event.
ME: And finally, how was it to collaborate – as author and illustrator – how did that work for both of you.
CARINA: I love working with Raven, her poems and writing is so whimsical and fun. I feel it suits my illustration style so well. Plus she is fantastic person to work with. It has been an honor and fun ride for sure.
RAVEN: Carina and I are naturally synched. Initially, our Spork Books editor connected us. Now we share an agent, another project for a board book, and we understand each other’s creative ebb and flow. It’s incredibly magical, and was always meant to be!
ME: This has been one of the sweetest posts I’ve ever put together…because these talented ladies are kind and good and a pleasure to work with. But the sweetness is not over…take it away, Raven!
RAVEN: Now for some cookie time! When Carina and I reminisced about our childhood and sweet tooth, she recalled her grandmother’s delicious bay biscuits, and I remember my first true on-my-own baking accomplishment – a yummy muffin I made from scratch as a 6th grader.
I am a happy baker who believes in baking with lots of love, and would enjoy sharing a chocolate chip cookie recipe.
- 1/2cup ground old fashioned oats
- 2 1/4cups all-purpose flour
- 1teaspoon baking soda
- 1teaspoon salt
- 1/4teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1cup unsalted melted butter
- 3/4cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4cup granulated sugar
- 1 drop of lemon juice
- 1tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2large eggs
- 3cups chunky chocolate chips
- Whisk together the ground oats, the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Set aside.
- With a big spoon or spatula, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. Stir in vanilla, lemon juice, and eggs. Stir until smooth, then combine it with the flour mixture. It’s okay if it’s a little lumpy – don’t over-mix. Add the chocolate chips.
- Cover the dough bowl with plastic wrap and chill at least 4 hours or overnight before baking.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Making sure the cookies are well spaced, scoop 2 inch-sized cookie dough balls on baking sheets lined with parchment paper, or I like using silicone baking mats. Slightly depress each ball with your finger.
- Bake for 13-17 minutes. Don’t over bake because they are more delicious when a bit under done.
WOW…thank you so much, Carina and Raven! We all so appreciate you stopping by to chat with us! Keep making those beautiful books together…and I’d be happy to have a few more cookies, please!
And please don’t forget that our wonderful authors and illustrators need our help. You can buy their books, of course. But equally valuable is if you ask your library to purchase copies for their collection…that way, the book will be shared by many. You can also review the book on Goodreads or Amazon. And tell your friends about books you love…they might love them also.
I hope you all have a wonderful weekend. I will be at Peter Reynolds’ Blue Bunny Bookstore in Dedham, MA today, Saturday, June 2 at 1pm. And then on Sunday, I’m flying to Chicago and will be doing FOUR school visits in the Chicago suburbs where I’ll talk with hundreds of kids (400 at just one of the schools) about following your dreams and how Sarah Goode followed hers. I’ll also be doing a reading of SWEET DREAMS, SARAH on Saturday, June 8 at 11am at the Andersons’ Bookstore in La Grange, IL. And best of all, I’ll get to see my granddaughter’s end of year school performance…hurray!