An Interview with Author Nancy Tillman

I am pleased to be able to share with you an interview with Nancy Tillman, best-selling author of On the Night You Were Born, in advance of her upcoming tour celebrating her newest book, I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love.

1. Animals figure prominently in your books. What is your favorite animal? 

My favorite animal is my pug, Figgy. That’s the truth! Fig is my mascot… he sits beside me every day as I write and illustrate. Other than that, every animal has special characteristics that draw me to it. Everyone is unique and wonderful in its own way…and each one suits a child differently. Giraffes are so tall they are perfect to help children pick apples. One can easily cross a stream upon a hippo. Who better to have a water fight with than an elephant?

2. If you could be any animal, what would you be? 

Why? I suppose I’d be a big, beautiful bird. It would be so wonderful to fly. I’d drop in on all the other animals. Maybe I’d be a flamingo. I’ve always been enchanted by them.

3. Why do you think children relate or are drawn to animals?

Children are drawn to things that stimulate them or nurture them. Animals are full of joyful surprises and funny noises… and many are great cuddlers, too.

4. The child in I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love pretends to be many different animals. Why do you think children enjoy pretending to be different people, animals, or things? 

It comes naturally to them, probably because pretending is so developmentally helpful. By trying on different personalities, children learn social differences and empathy for others, among many other things. Plus, it’s FUN!

5. When your own children were growing up, how did you encourage them to use their imaginations? 

Here’s one way that I’ll share with the parents out there. I often told my children they could scream if they did it silently. I still have memories of my son’s silent screams. He could let a lot of energy out without a sound! Try itJ

My daughter, Tess, had an alter ego by the name of Jessica Reindeer. Jessica had a dog named Candybreath. I loved to listen to their adventures. Once Jessica told the neighbors that her dad had died from eating junk food. I had to explain that it was Jessica’s dad, not Tess’s dad.

6. What was the inspiration behind the story of I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love? 

I wanted to give children the joy of becoming another creature with the comfort of knowing their parent would always recognize them. And I always love to create interactive pages that allow children to “be” the animal either in action or in sound.

7. Is the cover image of I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love inspired by the photograph of you with a giraffe that is featured on the back of the book? 

Yes it is! My publisher, Jean Feiwel, loves that picture and asked me specifically to create an illustration inspired by it. Children I’ve met on tour always tell me they love that picture, too. That picture was taken in Kenya. The giraffe, Lynn, licked me all over my face. I was holding food in my mouth!

8. Your books are heartwarming and very comforting but always close with the phrase “You are loved.” 

Why? Quite simply, it’s a message no one gets enough of. It’s the bottom line take-away of all my books, so I always want to end with it.

9. Millions of families across the nation have grown to love your books dearly. What is it about your stories that you think creates such a special connection with your readers – children and parents alike?

I try to give parents words to say what they already feel for their children. Most parents really deeply feel those words, and their children can tell. In their early years, children are little sponges. I love knowing parents are getting those messages of love into their children before many of the world’s other messages make their way in, or before barriers go up.

10. Can you describe your creative process? How do you choose a subject? Do you have a favorite place where you go for inspiration or to work out any blocks? Do you write or illustrate first? Are you inspired by friends, family, scenery, other? 

I am inspired by the natural beauty of the world around me, and the beautiful faces of young children looking up at me. When I succeed in reaching those children, I want to do it again and again. Yes, there are special places that are especially inspirational to me… many countries in Africa have provided me with beautiful memories to work from. But I could just as easily be transported by a crow that talks to me on a morning walk, or fog over a wheat field. As much as I can I try to paint wide open spaces that children can imagine themselves in.

Generally, I write first, although there are illustrations that I can already see in my mind. Sometimes I envision an illustration that might influence text.

11. Something people would be surprised to know about me is… 

I spent a portion of my college years at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

12. If you could invite four people to a dinner party…. 

Theodor Geisel, Walt Disney, Paul McCartney and Anne of Green Gables.  I'd serve my famous southern feast.

13. I can't live without… cupcakes.

14. How can your fans stay up to date with what you are doing? 

I try to keep fans updated at my Facebook page – The Nancy Tillman Collection.

For those of you interested in finding out more about Nancy Tillman's latest book, here is the publisher's blurb:

I'd Know You Anywhere, My Love
New York Times Bestseller

There are things about you quite unlike any other…

things always known by your father or mother.
So if you decide to be different one day,
no worries…I'd know you anyway.

Every child is special and unique, but children also love to dream of being something different. Taking flight like an owl... running fast as a horse... roaring loudly like a lion… there are no limits to children's imaginations. And no matter where their dreams may take them, you are there, every step of the way. In this book, your children can pretend to be many animals. But, more importantly, they will learn that you love them and are proud of them... no matter what they might decide to be.

Thanks so much for visiting Acting Balanced today, Nancy!  It was great to learn more about I’d Know You Anywhere, My Love. and about you too!  I think your dinner party would be a huge success - then again, Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite heroines, so any dinner party she is invited to would be a success in my books - especially if she brought some of "Marilla's Raspberry Cordial"