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Author Showcase

Please Welcome Ruth Sanderson

RT: Welcome to the Reading Tub, Ruth! I am so excited that you've been able to join us. I was first introduced to your work when I read The 12 Dancing Princesses. What attracted you to creating this story as a picture book?

Ruth: This was my favorite fairy tale growing up. I also loved to play in the woods, and I love trees and woods to this day.

The scene where the princesses travel though the Golden Wood is so evocative, and to me symbolizes a rite of passage from girlhood into womanhood,

RT: You are so right about the forest scenes. Your imagery is mesmerizing. What would you like to do next to stretch yourself as an author or illustrator?

Ruth: I am exploring a number of new styles, as I'm working on some humorous books for a younger audience. I just finished the first illustration for my latest book project A Castleful of Cats (Fall 2014) in watercolor and colored pencil, in a more whimsical style.

I was really terrified of working in watercolor - it is a difficult medium, and not forgiving. But the story "called out" for this medium. You have to be fearless. I feel like I am stretching, for certain. But it is exciting. Another goal I have is to write and illustrate a graphic novel.

RT: Could you ever foresee yourself telling a story just with illustrations (e.g., wordless book or graphic novel)?

Ruth: Perhaps. I would like to do a middle-grade graphic novel. I've been looking at some stories I've written that are too long for picture books, that could be expanded into the graphic novel format. They are original fairy tales.

I love Jane Yolen's graphic novel, The Last Dragon, illustrated by Rebecca Guay, and envision something in that kind of format.

RT: In addition to your picture book work you also have an original young adult series about horses. You have a lifelong love of horses ... why did you decide to share that passion with the teen audience v. younger readers?

Ruth: Random House offered me the Horse Diaries series to illustrate and I jumped at the chance. My daughter, Whitney, wrote two books in the series, the newest one, Darcy, is coming out in January 2013.

RT: What is it like to work with your daughter on a book? What were the books you loved to share together when she was young, and even now:

It was a joy to work with Whitney on two horse books. We took a great trip to Ireland to research the Connemara pony for her book Darcy. Whitney is a horse fanatic like me, so we have always had that in common. We've had the same two horses for more than 15 years, and still ride together.

She loved horse stories when she was growing up, and practically memorized all 90+ books in the saddle club series. To this day, you can call out a number - say 54 - and she will tell you the title and a synopsis of the story. Truly scary!

Now she reads Nabokov and books on Psychology, since she is getting her masters in Clinical Psych. I read mostly fantasy and historic fiction. We did just both read (and were impressed by) The Hunger Games Series, and so we do occasionally find books we both enjoy.

I hope we'll collaborate on more books in the future. She's working on a cat series now.

RT: Speaking of future plans! In your interview with Mark Blevis at Just One More Book you talk about your scratch board illustration and oil painting. Do you think those techniques will always be around or will technology send them to obsolescence.

Ruth: As long as there are artists, I believe some will be working in these traditional techniques. Having a work of art to hang on the wall will always be desired. If digital back-ups fail, there goes your creation.

RT: Oh, good point. Speaking for myself I know that I've become so accustomed to having everything at my fingertips that I forget about needing paper sometimes! In that same interview, you told Mark that you’d like to do The Golden Key in scratch board. Have you made any progress on that idea?

Ruth: Yes, I've done a number of illustrations for that, and am planning a 144 page book illustrated with over 40 pictures.

RT: Ruth, thanks for stopping by and sharing not just your stories, but your art. It has been a true delight.

Ruth: Thank you, Terry. This has been fun.

RT: Read more of our interview with Ruth Sanderson on the Family Bookshelf. There, she talks about her art and the universal themes of fairy tales and princess stories.


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