Jessica Linn Evans Interview - Little Mouse Finds a Friend

Hi Jessica, thanks for joining us at The Jovial Hall Blog. 

Hi Jason. Thanks so much for inviting me. It's a pleasure to be here.

Your newest children’s book, Little Mouse Finds a Friend is available to order both here and at Amazon. How did you connect with Jeni and end up illustrating Little Mouse?

Several years back, our family moved into a house that was kitty-corner from Jeni's family. Jeni and I renewed our friendship from years before and began having coffee together on a regular basis. On one of our visits Jeni told me the story of Little Mouse finding a friend and I told her I loved it. We decided to make a book together. That was before we knew anything about making books. Now we know that we did just about everything wrong to begin with. But we sure learned a lot!

Did you immediately know what you wanted Little Mouse to look like, or did he go through versions? And can we see any of the variations?

He went through different versions. I'll see if I can dig a few up. 

What medium did you create Little Mouse in?

All of the Little Mouse illustrations in the book are watercolor paintings. But there are coloring pages that I created with ink available on the website.

How long was the whole illustrating process of Little Mouse? Did you have to overcome any obstacles?

HA! It took us about seven years to finish Little Mouse Finds a Friend. As I mentioned earlier, we didn't know what we were doing when we started. One of the things I didn't know is never create finished illustrations of the entire story before the manuscript goes to an editor. I think I had to repaint 90% or more of the illustrations because the story changed so much. 

Are there writers or books or illustrators that you continually find inspiring?

For writers I'd say N.D. Wilson. Continually. His fiction is fantastic, but his non-fiction is life-changing. Also, C.S. Lewis' Narnia. I know that's the rote answer, but every time I read it, I still get that stab of joy. 

As for illustrators, my absolute favorite is Arthur Rackham. There is so much beauty in his line. Not all of his stuff was for kids, but his children's illustrations are just beautiful. Howard Pyle, Leslie Brooke, and Cicely Mary Barker are some other illustrators that inspire. All of those artists are gone now, but their representation of fairy tale and Mother Goose characters are classic. There are also more contemporary illustrators that inspire me. Erin E. Stead (A Sick Day for Amos McGee), Trina Schart Hyman (Saint George And The Dragon), Alan Lee (illustrated version of The Hobbit), Aaron Becker (Journey) all do really beautiful work. 

While you draw and paint, do you listen to music? 

Sometimes music (Big Band—mostly Ella and Louis, Johnny Cash and friends, Celtic, Bluegrass, Classic Rock, Indy bands, Classical, different renditions of the Psalms). A lot of podcasts, too. 

What is the most significant lesson that this project taught you?

Not to be afraid to make mistakes. It sounds a bit cliché, but I learned a ton from all the (myriad) of mistakes I made on this project. Also, sometimes it's good to get feedback from others on your art, but sometimes you just have to go with what you like to create in order for it to come out right.

Are there any illustrations of little mouse that didn’t end up in the book?

Oh. So, many. 

Do you have any advice for young illustrators that you would give? Anything that you would tell a younger version of you?

KEEP DRAWING! The more you draw the better you'll get. Also, look at the world around you. No. Look harder. Draw the wonder and detail of what you really see (not what you think you see) and then draw the boring stuff too... it might be cooler than you thought. 

Where can we pick up a copy of Little Mouse?

The book released November 1!  So you can pick up a copy from Jovial Press, from Amazon, or perhaps from your local bookstore.

Any other projects forthcoming? Anything else that you're working on?

I illustrated a book called Solar the Polar (by Kim Constantinesco) that will be releasing December 5th about a snowboarding Polar Bear. I've also got some fairy tales that I've written that I'd like to illustrate and see on the book shelves. 

During the month of October I'm rendering an ink drawing each day for a worldwide artists' challenge called Inktober. They're mostly sketches, because it's a busy month for me, but it's been pretty fun. You can check them out on my Twitter or Instagram feeds.

Thanks so much for joining us here at The Jovial Hall Blog.

Thanks again for having me! It's my pleasure to be here. 

Jeni Leidenfrost Interview - Little Mouse Finds a Friend

Hi Jeni. Thanks for joining us at The Jovial Hall Blog. 

Glad to be here!  Thank you for inviting me.


So your first children’s book, Little Mouse Finds a Friend is available for pre-order. What is it about? What inspired the story?

Little Mouse is based on stories I used to tell my kids at bedtime.  Since my kiddos are 10 years apart in age, both of them frequently encountered the problem of “no one to play with”.  This story is about a little guy who goes out alone and discovers a new friend who shares his interests - they travel the full journey of friendship.  Life is not usually what we expect it to be.  I wrote this story to encourage kids to get out there and see what they can find - to look for the miracle.  Or at least a really cool bug.

Is it too much of a spoiler to ask what the name is about?

The name of the story is purposefully vague.  Little Mouse finds a friend, but that friend has a lot more to him than Little Mouse expects.  The friendship draws the entire family closer together - that story is told through the illustrations of Little Mouse and his family doing more things together, especially when something unexpected occurs.  And in the end, there is hope and a promise of a new adventure.

How long was the whole writing process of Little Mouse? Were there any discouragements that you had to overcome as you were writing the book?

C.S. Lewis once wrote that children “grow quicker than books.” That has proven to be very true! The entire process for this book was 7 years.  I encountered some discouragements.  Some people in my life were very discouraging, telling me I was wasting my time.  The entire process of book creation is a long series of intensive work interrupted by months of waiting.  Now that I have been through it, though, I know what to expect of myself and of others.  Hopefully the next books will be more fun and less freaking out.

When you are looking for character inspiration, where do you look? Are there people in your life that are secretly also characters in your fiction?

A Coloring Page from

A Coloring Page from

Every person I meet astounds me.  Personality, history, hopes, fears, dreams, and interests, all in one individual…I’m in a nearly constant state of amazement at the diversity of people God has hand-crafted.  Each person completely irreplaceable.  My main problem is choosing which inspiration works best with the plot.  And which traits are compelling to the reader.  For example, Dr. Vole has a well known Adventure Vlog—but that isn’t part of this story.  Every character has a blend of traits from people I know or have known.  (If you want to know a little more about the characters in Little Mouse stories, there are short bios on each of them at

Are there writers or books or illustrators that you continually find inspiring?

During this particular project, the illustrator and my very dear friend, Jessica Evans, was enormously inspiring.  My favorite writers are all of the eclectic ones:  CS Lewis, with the way he weaves truth into a story in such a way the reader believes it was their idea, JRR Tolkien and his wonderful worlds and cultures, GK Chesterton’s humor…I could go on and on.  But for children’s books, the cadence of Seuss and the easy family of the Berenstain Bears reassure me that children need and enjoy good stories they can understand.

While you write, do you listen to music? 

For me, music is an immersive experience.  It takes my whole brain and I want to stop everything and soak it in.  Writing while I listen to music would be like watching a movie while dining on a gourmet meal.  I want to give everything I can to both experiences. When I do listen to music, I like nearly everything! But not Jazz.  Never Jazz.  Sorry Jazz people.

What is the most significant lesson that you learned while writing Little Mouse Finds a Friend?

The most significant and transformative lesson has been an appreciation for word economy.  Picture books are very limited by recommended word count.  Even more importantly, text and illustrations actually drive the story in tandem, so removing any text that can be illustrated is a new essential.  Once an author prunes out every unnecessary word, and the illustrator ignites the story with color and form, something miraculous happens.  Truth and beauty collide in the hands and mind of the reader.  That was a spectacular discovery for me.

When can we pick up a copy of Little Mouse?

This very moment you can pre-order a hard copy of Little Mouse Finds a Friend at Jovial Press:  My long-suffering publisher will know better than I do about Amazon and local bookstore dates.  I will say we are currently completing the Kindle and Audible formats of the book.  One very exciting element is an opportunity to make Little Mouse accessible to visually impaired folks.  The digital and audio books will have an option to choose a Full Image Description version where I read the text with accompanying descriptions of the illustrations.  I hope that will be a fun option for our visually impaired fans.  (It was really fun to record!) We hope to also make Little Mouse available in braille.

Any other projects forthcoming? Anything else that you re working on?

The next Little Mouse book will introduce a new, quirky character - and you’ll see Little Mouse getting into and out of trouble again. I’d like to keep the educational component as well, since science is fun and nature is too remarkable to miss!

Thanks so much for joining us here at The Jovial Hall Blog.

Thank you!  This was so much fun!


90 Days with Peter

We are pleased to announce that our newest book is up and for sale. 90 Days with Peter by Joseph Carlson is a devotional commentary in which that works through the first and second letters of the Apostle Peter, explaining and applying it as he goes.

It is designed to be read over the course of 90 days, with one reading for every day. Each entry is small enough to be finished easily and quickly, but is also deep enough to be meditated upon and remembered throughout the day. You can get a Kindle Version or an Ebook Version in our store. Or you can get it for the Kindle through Amazon or for the Nook through Barnes and Nobles.

Pick up your copy today.

Rethinking Family

A series of 12 sermons and lectures on the nature of marriage and family life by Jason Farley, Rethinking Family will help you do just that, rethink what the Bible has to teach us about the nature and mission that God gave to the family.

Lecture Titles:

The Mission of the Family Part 1
The Mission of the Family Part 2
The Mission of the Family Part 3
The Mission of the Family Part 4
Trinitarian Families
Created For Fellowship
Restoring Fellowship
Raising Children by Faith
Parenting like God the Father
Building Loyalty
The Family Must Die to Live

The Lay of Creation

We are very excited to have our first book published and available for purchase. The Lay of Creation, by Joseph Carlson, is a poetic retelling of how the world was made, highlighting the themes of redemption set into its very foundation. We here at Jovial Press absolutely love this book and are sure that you will love it too. Get you copy from us HERE, or through Amazon.