Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Ten Questions with Anne Villeneuve

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Ten Questions with Anne Villeneuve

Anne Villeneuve speaks with Open Book: Toronto about her latest book, The Red Scarf, reading and the art of illustration.

Open Book: Toronto:

Tell us about your book, The Red Scarf.

Anne Villeneuve:

This book was a real love story between me and illustrations for children. I loved so much drawing that I decided I would take up the challenge to make a book with almost no words, the story being told solely by the images.

OBT:

Can you describe the process of creating an almost wordless picture book?

AV:

It was really fascinating because I made very small illustrations, the size of a thumb and I made a …very tiny little book that I presented to my publisher who fell under the spell.  But, at the first stage of creation, I had to put real words on the story to really know where I was going.  This book has been a fantastic experience of creation.


 

OBT:

Who are your influences? 

AV:

I love the work of French artists who, I find, create books with a lot of leeway, very freely.  They are not scared of trying new things and explore new aspects in their work.  And what is a better place to create than children books?
I think my favorite artist is Sempé, a very good draftsman, very poetic, who has a great sense of observation.

OBT:

Describe your ideal work environment.

AV:

A good work place is very important.  It has to be favorable to creativity.  The first quality of a studio is the daylight.  I need a lot of day light, which is clear and pure and doesn’t falsify my colors.  Very often I look at the window, at the light, the clouds, the sky, it is a great source of inspiration.  On my walls I have all sorts of different images I made or that I like.  I have this great poster from Picasso I brought from a trip in Paris. It depicts a man with his foot over his head.  This great painting makes me think every day not be afraid of seeing life with a new eye, and to keep away from conventions.

OBT:

What was your first publication?

AV:

It is a book based on a French Canadian legend: Le Passager Mytérieux (the mysterious traveler), written by Cécile Gagnon. I made the illustrations of this book 23 years ago!

OBT:

If you had to choose three books as a “Welcome to Canada” gift, what would those books be?

AV:

The Hockey Sweater, By Roch Carrier, illustrated by Sheldon Cohen
Harvey, by Hervé Bouchard, illustrated by Janice Nadeau
Paul À La Pêche, written and illustrated by Michel Rabagliatti

OBT:

What are you reading right now?

AV:

There are so many! 
I just can’t read one book at a time.  There is always at least one children book, one adult book and a recipe or artist book on my bedside table.  Here are the three I read these days:
A marvelous book on different artist’s illustrated journals: An Illustrated Life, by Danny Gregory
A marvelous book by Dany Laferrière: L’Énigme du retour.
A marvelous children book:  Olivia, written by Ian Falconer.

OBT:

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received as an artist?

AV:

 Art is generosity, don’t be afraid to give. When you give, you also receive.

OBT:

What advice do you have for writers who are trying to get published?

AV:

Try to make a good layout of your story with possibly a few illustrations already made.  If you don’t illustrate, maybe you can ask someone to make you a few drawings, just to show your ideas.  It always helps when you have a visual support.
Don’t hesitate to present your work to many different publishing houses. You never know which one could be interested in your project.  Do not give up all your rights in an agreement between you and a publisher, and in the need, get the advice of professionals in artists rights.

OBT:

What is your next project?

AV:

I’m interested in a lot of different things.
I would like to make another book with no words.
Also I would be interested in exploring the world of graphic novels.


 

ANNE VILLENEUVE’s art has appeared in magazines, ads, and so many children’s books that she’s lost count. Her illustrations for children’s books have won her many honours, including the Governor General’s Literary Award – Children’s Illustrations and the TD Children’s Literature Award for L’escharpe rouge (The Red Scarf), which she both wrote and illustrated. According to Anne, happiness can be found at the end of a dock. She loves Romeo and Juliette, her cats. They like her too, as long as she gives them food. Anne Villeneuve lives in Quebec.
 
For more information on The Red Scarf, please visit the Tundra Books website. For more information about Anne Villeneuve, please visit her website.

Buy this book at your local independent bookstore or online at Chapters/Indigo or Amazon.
 

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