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.