Q. What have you published?
A. I’ve published over a dozen books, ranging from children’s picture books to nonfiction for adults. My most recent book is DOOMED QUEENS for Broadway/Doubleday Books.
Q. What exactly is “Art and Words”?
A. Established in 1994, Art and Words is the name of my book illustration, design, and packaging business. Under the imprint of Art and Words Editions I produce sumptuous print and electronic publications which offer wit, wisdom, and wonder.
Q. Do you have any new books you’re working on?
A. Yes! Books underway include novels set in Victorian England and a follow up to DOOMED QUEENS.
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. Generally speaking, I’m drawn to thick, lushly written novels with a romantic, gothic sensibility. I love the novels of Sarah Waters and Audrey Niffenegger. I also love historical fiction. I adored A. S. Byatt’s POSSESSION, Diane Setterfield’s THE THIRTEENTH TALE, and Donna Tartt’s THE GOLDFINCH. However, my favorite book of all time is probably Charlotte Bronte’s JANE EYRE. I consider it the feminist ur-text and have reread it often.
For nonfiction, I’m a Sarah Vowell fan—loved ASSASSINATION VACATION. I can’t resist food memoirs such as Anthony Bourdain’s KITCHEN CONFIDENTIAL, Julia Child’s MY LIFE IN FRANCE, and Ruth Reichl’s memoirs, especially her first one, TENDER AT THE BONE. More recently, I adored Helen Macdonald’s H IS FOR HAWK.
Q. Who are your artistic influences?
A. When I was in art school years ago, I discovered the work of the Pre-Raphaelites—most especially the work of William Morris, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Edward Burne-Jones. The work of Alan Lee, a mentor during the year I lived in England, was another huge inspiration. I’ve also found inspiration in the work of artists such as Joseph Cornell and Jean Cocteau—artists who intermingle the magical with the material in a multitude of mediums and formats. Other artists who have influenced my work: Gustav Klimt and the Viennese Succession, Botticelli and the Italian Quattrocento. Most of all, I find great support in my author and artist friends. No artist can work in a vacuum—we need the support of like-minded souls.
Q. How did you get involved with creating tarot decks?
A. I was first exposed to the tarot as a seven-year-old child when an older cousin, whom I regarded as infinitely sophisticated and glamorous, showed me her deck. I was immediately struck by the cards’ beauty and mystery. The art for my first tarot deck, THE GODDESS TAROT, was adapted from my book THE BOOK OF GODDESSES. It amazes me that the deck has sold a quarter of a million copies worldwide and is now considered a classic. And yes, I do read the tarot—it’s just another way to tell a story.
Q. Where do the photographs on your blog come from?
A. Me! I am addicted to my iPhone camera and adore the Hipstamatic app.
Q. What is your work schedule?
A. When I’m on a book deadline, I try to work as often and as long as possible. Seriously. My creative synopses fire best when I can work with as little interruption as possible. Clearly, this is difficult in everyday “real life”, but my family is very, very tolerant. On a average work day, I drop off my daughter at school, go for a long walk to shift gears. I always carry a notebook with me for writing my thoughts down—you never know when inspiration will strike. Then I head upstairs to the studio and work uninterrupted for six to eight hours—longer, if possible. Later, I’ll reread and edit what I wrote, and write notes for the next day’s work session.
about specific books
Q. Where did the idea for DOOMED QUEENS come from?
A. I’ve always been fascinated with women’s history, especially Tudor-era queens. From there, I noted how women in power have been undermined through the ages. Sometimes it’s their own fault, as in the example of Olympias, the monstrous mother of Alexander the Great; other times, biology really is destiny, such as for poor fertility-challenged Anne Boleyn. Because I’m fond of Victorian-era graphics, I designed and illustrated DOOMED QUEENS to look like a pennydreadful. I’m especially proud of the paper dolls hidden inside the French flaps.
Q. What led to your creating THE BOOK OF GODDESSES?
A. THE BOOK OF GODDESSES was preceded by another mythology-inspired book, PERSEPHONE AND THE POMEGRANATE, a picture book retelling of the Persephone myth. PERSEPHONE whetted my appetite to work on something more ambitious incorporating goddess stories. And so THE BOOK OF GODDESSES came into being.
To my surprise, THE BOOK OF GODDESSES was featured in numerous catalogs as a gift book for women, rather than a picture book for girls. It was a top ten bestseller for the One Spirit/Book-of-the-Month Club, and was chosen as an ALA Pick-of-the-List. The art from GODDESSES had a life beyond the book: it inspired the best-selling Goddess Tarot, numerous calendars, and a Grammy-nominated classical music CD by the award-winning composer Robert Paterson.
A. My early illustrated books sold out their printings. The good news is that they’re now available as e-books. Other books available include: RAPUNZEL, SACRED ANIMALS, and THE GODDESS TAROT guide book. The plan is to eventually digitize all of my print publications. Most recently, THE LOVER’S PATH was released from Apple and Amazon.
Q. What is your favorite book you’ve created?
A. That’s like asking a mother who her favorite child is! My favorite book is usually the one I’ve just finished—I especially loved workshopping and researching my Victorian-set novels underway. That written, I have a soft spot for THE LOVER’S PATH because of its unusual interactive format. I’m pleased that it is finally available as an e-book.
art and design
Q. How do you create your paintings?
A. I work in two mediums: watercolor with gouache and pencil, and oil over watercolor and acrylic; both are painted on Arches 90 lb. cold-pressed finish, which I’ve stretched onto a piece of wood. A painting can take from several days to several weeks, depending on the complexity and research involved. I usually have friends or colleagues pose for my paintings, rather than professional models.
Q. Do you exhibit your art?
A. I’ve shown my work in numerous galleries and museums including the Ruskin Library, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the New York Open Center. I have several pieces in the permanent collection of the Mazza Museum at Findlay College, one of the largest and most important collections of children’s book art.
Q. What is your design background?
A. I have over two decades’ experience as a designer. These include seven years at a major New York publishing house as a book designer under the great art director Atha Tehon. Though I have extensive experience as a print designer, I’ve since expanded into the digital realm to design iPhone apps, e-books, websites, and videos.
Q. Are you available for hire as an illustrator or designer?
A. I am currently not taking on clients due to book deadlines. Sorry!
Q. I’d like to reproduce your art in my novel/manuscript/other work of art/website. May I do so?
A. Many of my illustrations have graced book covers, cd packages, greeting cards, and calendars. Licensing information is here.
Q. Is your art available for purchase?
A. Yes. Contact me here.
other popular questions
Q. How do I get published? Will you read my manuscript and recommend a publisher or literary agent for my book or deck? Can you tell me how to publish it?
A. I cannot recommend individual publishers or literary agents for a variety of reasons. However, I love sharing information about the business of publishing—I write about it on my blog and have a publishing advice page.
Q. A card is missing from my deck. Or I’ve lost a card or another component from one of your deck kits—book, booklet, box, bag.
A. You need to contact the publisher directly for a replacement. Publisher contact information is listed on the card box or copyright page.
Q. Can you donate art/prints/books/time for my organization?
A. I receive many requests for donations—much as I wish otherwise, it’s simply not possible to fulfill them all. I already donate art, services, and money to local organizations that I am directly involved with. Generally speaking, these organizations are arts-oriented or benefit women and children. If your nonprofit fits this description, you’re welcome to ask.
A. I’ve been advised not to for legal reasons. However, I wish you the best of luck.
Q. Will you blurb or review my book?
A. Please contact me with information about your book. I’m interested in literary and historical fiction, women’s history, illustrated books, books on the creative process, and mythology.
Q. What is your book review policy?
A. FTC regulations requires me to state that books reviewed on this site are either purchased retail or received from the publisher or author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review. The opinions stated are mine alone. Generally speaking, I only feature books I like. Life is too short to spend time on things that don’t bring joy.
Q. I’d like to review an Art and Words Editions book or app.
A. Wonderful! Contact me and I’ll do my best to get you the materials you need.
Q. I’d like to include a quote from your book in my novel/manuscript/other work of art/website. May I do so?
A. For the most part, yes. Fair use law allows quoting published work within reason as long as it is properly attributed. E-mail me the exact quote and we’ll take it from there.