Douglas Florian has written and illustrated more than fifty children’s books including beast feast, winner of the Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award, MAMMALABILA, winner of the Claudia Lewis Poetry Award, and INSECTLOPEDIA, a national bestseller featured on National Public Radio and The Today Show. He has recited his poetry at Carnegie Hall, The White House, and The Museum of Modern Art in New York.
For what age audience do you write?
I think most of my books can be appreciate by all ages of people, but my favorite audience to recite my poetry is second and third graders. They are my biggest laughers.
Tell us about your latest book.
In my newest book, HOW TO DRAW A DRAGON, I show boys and girls how they too can draw dragons while enjoying such things as a bike ride, soaring flight, violin lesson, and marshmallow roast. The end papers give some practical tips, and the ending has a big fold-out surprise. The idea for this book took shape at a school library in Houston, Texas, where a humongous dragon was suspended below the ceiling.
Henry: Dragons AND marshmallows!? Sign me up!
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
I’m sure readers will enjoy the wide variety of dragons and start creating their own dragons and dragon adventures.
Henry: I also think drawing dragons should be added to Common Core requirements.
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
The most challenging aspect of writing is to keep things fresh and also create something new and different from what I’ve done before. I want each book to be better than the one’s I did before. It’s also a challenge to make sure my facts are accurate if I’m incorporating information in a poem.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I think it’s important to believe in your own work and to constantly improve it, but at the same time to be open to suggestions from an editor or designer. My book HOW TO DRAW A DRAGON went through many changes, but in the end it soared as high as it could.
Henry: Yes, book publishing is truly a team effort.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
It’s been a great pleasure to recite my poems and show my artwork to students across the country. The response I get from them is inspiring and deeply rewarding.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
My advice would be keep your eyes open, keep your ears open, and keep your mind open. Read a lot. Write a lot. And re-write a lot.
Henry: Yes, the concept of revision is alien to many people, particularly young people.
Read the rest of this interview at Henry’s blog on KidLit, Fantasy & Science Fiction.