Good Night, Princess Pruney Toes


Troll Chat with Author Lisa McCourt and
Illustrator Cyd Moore!

March 21 2001 1:00pm


Moderator:

We're thrilled to welcome Lisa McCourt and Cyd Moore to Troll.com's March chat! Lisa and Cyd brought us one of our favorite series— Stinky Face! They have teamed up again to bring us Goodnight, Princess Pruney Toes. Let's welcome them both!

Lisa McCourt:

Hi everyone! I'm happy to be back, and especially to be here with Cyd.

Cyd Moore:

Hello everyone! I can't wait to get started!

Moderator:

As always, I'll start us off with one of my favorite questions. This one's for Cyd. Did you always want to be an artist?

Cyd Moore:

I've been drawing since I was about 3 years old. I even have pictures from my childhood because my mom saved stacks of them. Besides drawing my own "original creations," I would copy Beetle Baily, Snuffy Smith, and Peanuts from the comics. I also drew the pictures I saw in books that I checked out from the book mobile that came to our front door every week in the summer.

Jane:

I'm a fourth grade teacher in Illinois and have lots of creative students in my class. I would love to hear any advice you have for kids who would like to be authors or illustrators when they grow up.

Cyd Moore:

Practice what you love to do. The more you do it, the better you get, and the more confidence you will have. Today, taking technical classes as well as illustration classes is very important. Your opportunities will be much greater if you learn programs like Adobe Illustrator, Freehand, Quark, and web design programs like Dreamweaver. Even if you want to illustrate only children's books, you will use these programs often if you know them.

Lisa McCourt:

Definitely start writing or drawing right now! Keep a private journal or sketch book where you can write or draw what's meaningful to you. You don't have to show anyone. Just do it for yourself, and you'll be developing your own personal voice and style.

Cyd Moore:

Artists are almost always freelance, which means they are self-employed. Artists must know how to run a business, so I recommend taking some business classes. Since creative minds might not naturally embrace this side of the world, it's important to prepare.

Moderator:

Cyd, what is your favorite thing to illustrate?

Cyd Moore:

I love to draw imaginary creatures, animals, and precocious kids . . . dragons, monsters, stinky faces!

Sarah:

I'm 10. Can a kid like me ever get a book published?

Lisa McCourt:

I recommend The Market Guide for Young Writers to all my young friends who want to see their words in print. You'll find all the best contests and opportunities for kid-authors in there.

Moderator:

Mrs. Jameson's third grade class in New Mexico sent us lots of great questions before the chat. They want to know if the characters in Princess Pruney Toes are based upon people in your life.

Lisa McCourt:

Busted! Yeah, the dad is an awful lot like my husband, who always goes the distance in the imaginary games he plays with our son, Tucker.

Chris:

Cyd, one of the banners (above) mentioned that you like to travel - any plans to write a book that takes place somewhere exotic?

Cyd Moore:

I recently went to India and went on a 27-hour bumpy bus ride with no food or bathrooms. I have to turn this into a funny story because it wasn't so funny that night.

Ms. Gilbert:

This is for both of you. Lisa, what inspired you to create Princess Pruney Toes? And Cyd, what was your inspiration for the illustrations?

Lisa McCourt:

We're very silly at our house. Tucker loves to tell us, "Okay, Mommy, you are an alligator now. Daddy, you are a magic raccoon what can fly." So my own nutty family was the inspiration for the pretend-game that goes to extremes. As for the rest, I see a unique, almost romantic father-daughter bond in some of our friends' families, and wanted to write a book about it.

Cyd Moore:

I wanted the little girl to be a regular everyday little girl . . . not just perfect and beautiful like a little tiny model. I wanted her to have snaggle-puss teeth and rather ratty hair. I wanted her to be adorable and messy and sweet. When I'm working on a character, I just naturally think of my own boys when they were little . . . this one was based more on my youngest son, Lindsay. He was always doing at least 5 things at all times. He could stand on his head, rub the cat, tell you about his dreams, eat a snack, and do math in his head, all at once. A busy, fun little person! Actually, he's still like that!

Susie:

Lisa, I'm so glad you're back with Cyd! I was at the chat in September. Here's my question for both of you. Of all the books you've done together, which is your favorite?

Cyd Moore:

I have always liked I Love You, Stinky Face the best of ANY books that I've done. But Pruney Toes is becoming a fast runner up. She might overtake Stinky at some point.

Lisa McCourt:

Can't tell you. Too hard. But I CAN tell you that out of the thirty-something books I've written, the four I've done with Cyd are my four favorites (three Stinky Face books and Pruney Toes).

umanisti:

Lisa and Cyd, my wife and I want to thank you for all of your creative efforts that you have shared. While at the emergency room for our daughter (nothing serious it turned out), a lady was having difficulty with her frightened daughter until she pulled out a copy of I Love you, Stinky-face. It calmed her down. We were impressed with the story and its sensitivity that we picked up 5 copies for our friends and selves. Thank you.

Lisa McCourt & Cyd Moore:

We love stories like that!

Chris:

Lisa, what was your award-winning bumper sticker slogan?

Lisa McCourt:

I drew a bird, a squirrel, and some other furry little thing, and I wrote, "We're not the only ones who live here. Don't ruin their world." I was kind of a serious kid.

Chris:

Are you currently working on any projects together that we should be looking forward to?

Lisa McCourt:

Merry Christmas Stinky Face is in the works! And the following fall Troll will release The Most Thankful Thing, also illustrated by Cyd. A board book version of the original Stinky Face wil be out soon, too.

Cyd Moore:

I can't wait to get started on the Christmas Stinky! Lisa never ceases to amaze me with her adorable stories. I agreed to the first Stinky 5 minutes after I read the original manuscript. Lisa has such a great mind . . . so sweet and cuddly. I love the way her stories have such deep loving messages, but remain whimsical and light. I think that's why dads and moms and kids read these books every single night before bed.

Jack:

What is her name?

Lisa McCourt:

Princess Pruney Toes' name? It's Audrey. No, Rosie. No, Petunia. You tell me!

Scoobie Doo:

Lisa, does the little boy in I Love You Stinky Face look like your son?

Lisa McCourt:

Yes! He's got the same hairstyle and impish face. I have to show people the copyright date to prove that Cyd's creation preceded mine.

Lynne:

Lisa, Besides your family are there other things that inspire your stories?

Lisa McCourt:

I read a lot of kids' books and unabashedly imitate the aspects I love in them.

Sarah:

Do you both have pets?

Cyd Moore:

I only have 1 dog, named Maya. She's a very smart mutt who looks like Tramp from Lady and the Tramp. She's actually waiting by the bus in "It's Time for School, Stinky Face." I have 2 snazzy cats named Fig and Simone. They're so great. They always lie beside my laptop when I'm answering e-mails. I'm crazy about animals . . . I had SO many when I was a kid. Growing up on a farm was like living in a zoo most of the time. My dad also loved animals, so he was always bringing home some new creature.

Lisa McCourt:

No real live ones, but Tuck has five make-believe ones that require an awful lot of upkeep.

Ms. Gilbert:

Cyd, you mentioned art school earlier. Where did you learn to be such a great artist?

Cyd Moore:

I went to the University of Georgia and studied graphic design. I also took illustration courses and fine art courses. I think that my design background helps me in illustrating books. I'm always thinking of the final product, THE BOOK . . .not just my illustrations in a books. The BOOK itself becomes the art form.

Moderator:

Cyd, do you ever look at someone's manuscript and illustrate before the publisher looks at it?

Cyd Moore:

I only look at manuscripts that publishers have already agreed to publish. If you've written a story, you should send it to the publisher without illustrations unless you are an artist. The editor and art director will help you find the perfect illustrator if they decide to publish it.

Lynne:

Cyd, do you draw in a sketchbook while on all of your far away trips?

Cyd Moore:

Yes, I do sketch, especially during down-times like when I am on a slow boat creeping up the Ganges.

Moderator:

Cyd, we know you're quite an accomplished artist. Our online participants might be interested in where else we can find your work.

Cyd Moore:

CD covers, McDonald Happy Meal boxes, posters and prints, children's book galleries like Elizabeth Stone Gallery, magazines, card games, greeting cards, newspapers to name a few. Also, my website, www.cydmoore.com.

Susie:

What were your first books about?

Lisa McCourt:

Blood. And eyeballs. And a sneeze that lived in a big toe and had to run all the way up the body to get to the mouth of the person she was living in whenever that person had to sneeze. I wrote my first story when I was ten, about these body-part characters. I kept adding to it and reading it to my little brother when he went to bed each night. I drew all the pictures, too! Yikes!

Karen:

Cool—will Troll do a book about that that kind of gross stuff?!

Lisa McCourt:

I'll check into it and get back to you!

Cyd Moore:

My VERY first book was when I was in college. I worked at the Georgia Public TV station. Kindergarten kids would tour the station. I was asked to make a little book called, "What is a TV Station" to give away to kids. My first real trade book was "Jane Yolen's Songs of Summer" . . .not a shabby way to start my career . . . working with Jane! She's amazing!

Lynne:

Lisa, Why do you say Yikes when you say you drew pictures? You are so creative in your writting, I bet you draw great pictures.

Cyd Moore:

I would love to see some of your work too, Lisa!

Lisa McCourt:

I wish I could draw here for you. I'd give you a demonstration right now! NOT!

Moderator:

Cyd, this question is for you from Ann, a parent in Washington. Ann wants to know how she should go about encouraging her young son who is already very interested in art.

Cyd Moore:

The best things you can do is give him lots of materials to be creative . . . let him experiment. Buy reams of paper because bound sketch books are intimidating . . . he doesn't want to mess up. With loose sheets he can feel more free. Keep lots of new markers, Prismacolor or Crayola pencils, feathers, glitter, clay, glue, buttons, string, wire, and anything else that can be built, stretched, and formed into something wonderful. Let him PLAY and try new things.

Moderator:

Joan from South Dakota is wondering what you do to promote your books?

Lisa McCourt:

I visit lots of schools with Cheryl Nathan who illustrated some of my books. We have a really nice presentation that shows all the stages a books goes through from concept to finished product. I also do signings at bookstores, libraries, and publishing conferences.

Moderator:

Isn't Stinky Face going to be on TV soon?

Lisa McCourt:

I Miss You, Stinky Face will be featured on the PBS show, Between the Lions on April 26. Cyd and I are psyched about that! And if you're participating from Florida, watch for a television interview with me on the PBS channel WXEL, to air in May. It will show my office, how I write, and they even follow me to my son's preschool where I read a story to the class. There will also be a radio interview on NPR for The Parent's Journal—I'll post the exact dates on my website when I know them.

Moderator:

I can't believe nobody has asked this yet! Lisa, how did you and Cyd meet?

Lisa McCourt:

Let's see. I was trying, unsuccessfully, to learn how to line-dance at a ho-down-themed, pig-roasting party thrown by a publishing company. Not knowing a do-si from a do, I struck up a conversation with the high-stepper to my left: Cyd. I already knew her work so I wasn't surprised to discover that she was just as funny, warm, and genuine as that art I loved. I was an editor then, with a secret, obsessive curiosity about the lives of freelance creative people. We plopped down to rest on a bale of hay and before the evening was over I promised that I'd call her to illustrate a book one day.

Moderator:

So then you started your first collaboration?

Lisa McCourt:

Not right away. About a year later I was at a publishing convention walking briskly from one appointment to another and I nearly trampled Cyd as she walked into the conference hall. Happy to see one another, we caught up and promised to keep in touch. Cyd later said "You were the very first person I ran into (literally) at the conference. It was fate." She sent me some of her recent pieces with a note that said "Well, we square-danced pretty well together. We'd probably work well together, too." I couldn't have agreed more. I kept tacking her awesome samples on my office bulletin board, but the right book just never turned up. When I started writing books myself, I Love You, Stinky Face was one of my first to evolve. I had finally produced a picture book manuscript I really loved. And, I finally had a project that was perfect for Cyd! Luckily, the editors at Troll felt the same way. And here we are, four books later with two more in the works!

Moderator:

We're out of time for today, but this has been a great chat. Many thanks to our audience for all the great questions and special thanks to Lisa and Cyd for taking the time to join us today!

Lisa McCourt:

I've loved chatting with you all! If any questions went unanswered, feel free to e-mail me through my website, www.lisamccourt.com!

Cyd Moore:

It's been a great day online! Visit me on my website as well, www.cydmoore.com!

Moderator:

You can find Good Night, Princess Pruney Toes and the Stinky Face series in your local bookstore, and the audio storybooks are available on Troll.com. Please join us on April 11 at 7:00 p.m. when we welcome Justine Korman, the author of the Grumpy Bunny series. Thank you for coming!

   Copyright Scholastic, Inc.