Monday, April 13, 2009

Interview with Author/Illustrator Wendy Martin

My name is Wendy Martin. I use the pen name W. Lyon Martin. (Lyon sounds like lion.) I have several reasons for using my nickname, one of which there is another author called Wendy Martin. She doesn’t write children’s books, but I wanted to avoid confusion when I had my first book published. I am a transplanted New Englander living in the wilds of the Midwest. I have a loving husband, a snarly teenager and couple of noisy, demanding cats. I have written and illustrated three books, and illustrated another one, which I did not write. They are all picture books.
How long have you been writing/illustrating for children?
A: I officially started writing for children in 2000. I have been painting professionally since 1979. I decided to concentrate on illustration for children late in the 90s. I love drawing and painting “cute” life scenes. I’ve tried to paint scary and such but I don’t seem to have that particular talent. In my book “Watchers,” (Magical Child Books 2008), I painted a monster. Even my monster is on the cute side, and not particularly scary.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
A: I call “writer’s block” white paper fear. When I first started working in watercolor in the 90s, I was afraid of ruining the pristine sheets of watercolor paper. At the time, I found their cost to be a huge amount of money. Unlike canvas and oil painting, when you “goof” on a watercolor it’s nearly impossible to cover it up or erase it. I’ve learned more techniques over the years, so I am not as fearful. Still when faced with that bright white expanse it’s hard to make the first mark. Therefore, I’ve discovered I need to give myself permission to “have fun.” If I take the seriousness out of what I am doing (i.e. deadlines, loss of time, loss of materials, false starts) and just go for it, I find that writer’s block has a way of moving aside so it is no longer a problem.
Tell us about your new book. Where can we buy it?
A: My new book “Rabbit’s Song” by S.J. Tucker and Trudy Herring is structured on old-time folktales. The story tells of the quest of Trickster to find animals to represent him here on Earth. He meets many animals and finally settles on Rabbit and his friends Coyote, Raven and Crow. These animals have shown up in stories around the world in the Trickster tradition. My illustrations are reminiscent of the art found in many native cultures. Curving lines and strong colors are the most obvious of these elements. The book is available at big online booksellers. They can also be ordered through independent or big name bricks and mortar bookstores. Several libraries around the country also have copies, so you can ask your local librarian to order a copy.
Do you have a website, blog or both?
A: One of my web sites is at and there is a blog there. I also have live journal, facebook, myspace and jacketflap blogs. In addition, on amazon there is a blog attached to my books if you scroll down to the bottom section of each book’s page. I update the blogs sporadically. In addition, I have a mailing list folks can sign up to where I send out announcements and coloring pages.
Do you write in more than one genre?
A: I have been doing picture books for a number of years but recently I started several young adult novels. In illustration, I have done business and commercial art as well as illustrations for adult books, magazine articles. I have also done art for licensing such as T-shirts and cross-stitch patterns. I even have quite a collection of fine art. It is framed and for sale on my web site. I use both traditional media as well as digital formats.
How do you dress when you write?
A: Even though I work out of my home, I keep “office hours.” I get up and go to work early in the morning. If I am not going out into public, I will dress in comfortable clothes like sweat pants and baggy T-shirts. If I have errands, book signings or meetings, I will dress in typical office clothing such as a nice skirt and shirt. Depending on the people I’ll be seeing, I might even wear stockings and heals. I never wear make-up.
What writing groups have been the most helpful to you?
A: The best thing I ever did was join the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. Through my membership with them, I have met many other authors/illustrators and learned of innumerable websites and other resources to support my goals and education in being the best children’s book creator as I possibly can be.


Lyon said...

Thanks for the wonderful interview, Shari.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...


It was my pleasure!