Tuesday, March 8, 2016
LSLL Blog Tour: Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car by Cathey Graham Nickell- Author Interview!
And now for an interview with the author!
What was your inspiration for ARTHUR ZARR’S AMAZING ART CAR?
I don't drive an art car myself, but I love snapping photographs whenever I spot one. The concept for Arthur Zarr came to me one morning during rush hour while driving my teenage son, Will, to school. Just for fun, I keep the back of my SUV covered with various bumper stickers. I joked with Will that I need to be a polite driver and obey the laws of the road because the stickers make my car recognizable. Will laughed at me, insisting that no one ever notices me and certainly not my car! During the drive, Will's comment got me pondering what else—besides bumper stickers—might make a car memorable? That question triggered me to think about art cars, and by the time I finished my morning carpool, the concept for Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car was born. I visited bookstores and researched the topic, but I couldn't find any books about art cars specifically written for children. There were a few interesting photographic art car books for adults, but no children's picture books, no imaginative made-up stories. This discovery made me want to write and publish the book even more. Arthur Zarr's Amazing Art Car is the only book on the market for children about art cars, and people--especially school art teachers--seem to be excited that I created it.
How long have you been writing?
This might sound cliche', but I've been writing since I was able to pick up a pencil and write. Throughout my childhood, I used paper, staples and ribbon to make homemade books on a variety of topics. There was Susan and the Snail, and The Handsome Guy, and Sherloc Hemloc, Private Eye -- to name a few. The fun thing is that I still have them all! I saved every one, and it's fun to go back and flip through them. In high school, I worked on our newspaper staff, called the High Life, and ended up writing a regular column that featured a different student each week. At Baylor University, I majored in Journalism and worked for the Lariat, which was our daily campus newspaper; I served in various paid newspaper staff positions for a few years at Baylor. After college, I was a reporter for the Times in Shreveport, Louisiana, which is my hometown. Over time, my career shifted into the field of public relations, and in that capacity, I continued my writing (newsletter, brochures, news releases, speeches, etc). Pretty much every job I've ever had was some sort of writing position. Now, creating children's books is the most fun I've ever had with my passion for writing.
What book(s) do you wish you could have written?
Well, of course, all the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling. I think she is a genius! But I also really enjoyed The Help, by Kathryn Stockett, because it was her first break-out novel. I was so impressed with the wonderful job Stockett did in writing the book from different points of view, and in creating such memorable characters.
Which literary character is most like you?
I wish I could answer this question by saying something very important-sounding, like Jo March from Little Women, or Lizzie Bennett from Pride and Prejudice. But the truth is, I'm quite similar to dear old Amelia Bedelia! It's become a running family joke, and my mother even calls me, "Amelia" at times. I don't do this on purpose, but I take things very literally. So, like Amelia, if you ask me to dress the turkey, for a split second I might think you want me to put clothes on it. I usually figure it out before I embarrass myself, but not always. The literary character I loved and admired the most as a child, however, was Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, because I wanted to live in an upside-down house with secret drawers and compartments hidden all around. Plus, she had such interesting "cures" for all the problem children, and I thought it seemed wonderful that she smelled like cinnamon spice cookies.
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven't been?
Tuscany, Italy. Ever since I saw Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun, I've wanted to go there and stay in one of those amazing villas with the centuries-old stone walls.