Frané Lessac - Interview (October 2018)
What five words best describe you?
Playful. Curious. Mischievous. Helpful. Adventurous
How did you get started in this industry?
I moved to the Caribbean island of Montserrat in 1979 and began painting the people, architecture, flora and fauna of the island. I realised the best way to share my love of the island would be to create a picture book about this tropical paradise. I took the idea to thirty publishers before one finally said yes. Since then, I have gone on to publish another forty books.
Is there any part of the creative process you don't like?
Publishing deadlines! When you don’t have the luxury of time to let a book simmer. Setting it aside for a period of time allows one to revisit the work with fresh eyes.
What advice would you give to someone who is trying to catch the eye of a publisher?
Join a professional organization that helps authors and illustrators. If you’re just starting out, I recommend joining your regional chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). They offer manuscript assessments, portfolio reviews, networking opportunities, and meetings with publishers. For illustrators, create a portfolio that shows a diversity of your work. This can comprise of child-friendly landscapes. animals, children. Include three pieces of sequential art to demonstrate that you can convey characters consistently through a narrative.
Are you a plotter or a pantser? (Plotter =Plotting out your manuscript before you write it. / Pantser = Putting pen to paper and plotting as you go along)
I’m a Pantser and write by the seat of my pants. I’m a conceptual author, but executing a polished manuscript is always a challenge. I think myself as an artist first and a twist my arm author second.
What excites you about the future of children's books?
Children will always want real books to hold. They will always love being read to. There is a growing range of diverse topics to inspire children to discover new knowledge and expand their world. It’s always exciting to see new specialty children’s bookshops popping up and thriving.
What’s the funniest thing a child has ever said to you during one of your presentations/talks?
A little girl once said, “The thing I like about you is how you draw your pictures. It looks like a miracle. When I saw your books, I got shocked. It is amazing. It looks like I’m in heaven”.
What's next from Frané Lessac?
I have two spanking new books coming out in 2018. Under the Southern Cross is a night-time tour of Australia, when animals are waking, people are exploring, and discoveries are being made. (published by Walker Books). We Are Grateful: Otsaliheliga is a modern Native American story following a Cherokee year of celebrations and experiences as told by Traci Sorell, an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation. (published by Charlesbrige Publishers)