November’s Upper Bucks Free Press News Paper Article and 12×12 Update!

I am trying to do Julie Hedlund’s 12×12 Challenge. It is a challenge to write 12 picture book drafts in 12 months in 2012. You can click on the 12×12 banner on the right side bar or the one above to learn more about it. I have been working on a PB about a bird and a worm who are friends. I am HAPPY to say I got really far with it this month! I don’t have it done, but I got to work on it a lot and I am pretty happy with it!

Now on to other news –
I wanted to share the article I wrote for the Upper Bucks Free Press(the newspaper I write for) for the November issue! Enjoy 🙂

Meet Bucks County Author and Illustrator Lee Harper!

Lee Harper is a picture book author and illustrator from Bucks County, Pennsylvania. Mr. Harper most recently illustrated TURKEY CLAUS, by Wendi Silvano. In addition to creating picture books for children, Mr. Harper loves to visit schools. To learn more about Mr. Harper’s books and school visits, please visit

ErikThank you for agreeing to this interview Mr. Harper! You illustrated a book called “Turkey Trouble” that was written by Wendy Silvano. In that book it’s Thanksgiving time and the turkey is in BIG trouble. Fortunately, the turkey escapes! You just illustrated a second book with Ms. Silvano called “Turkey Claus” that was just released on November 1st! Can you tell us a little about that book?

Lee Harper -Turkey has made it through Thanksgiving without becoming a turkey dinner, but now it’s almost Christmas, and turkey is on the menu again. Turkey decides the only thing to do is to ask Santa for help. He sets off for the North Pole, but getting in to see Santa at Christmastime isn’t as easy as Turkey expected. It takes all his ideas—and clever disguises—to find a way into Santa’s house. After many hilarious attempts, Turkey comes up with the perfect disguise, and Santa has the perfect solution!

ErikI can’t wait to read how Turkey escapes! Do you like to draw/eat turkeys? What is your favorite animal to draw?

Lee Harper – My favorite sandwich consists of lettuce, tomato, pepperoncini, mayo, salt, pepper, soy sprouts, and yes…turkey. I feel terribly conflicted about this.

My favorite animals to draw are animal-people.

ErikThat sounds like a good sandwich (with or without the turkey)! I really like your book “The Emperor’s Cool Clothes” that you wrote and illustrated. Do you find it more enjoyable to illustrate your own story or do you like to work with other authors on their projects?

Lee Harper – I like both in different ways. It’s fun to have the creative freedom of writing and illustrating your own story, but it’s easy to go off in the wrong direction and get lost. Illustrating someone else’s story is like having a road map.

ErikI think it would be fun to illustrate stories (your own or others). If you weren’t a children’s book illustrator and author, what would you be?

Lee Harper – I’d probably be a tour-guide, ventriloquist dummy maker, arborist, or schoolteacher.

Erik – Or a tour guide in a ventriloquist dummy maker factory? 😉 When you get a story to illustrate, do you get a picture of what you want to draw right away when you read it or do you have to think about it a while?

Lee Harper – I usually start by writing down all the attributes of each character, and then start doodling. Gradually the characters emerge through the process of doodling. The Turkey character came to me right away. Most of the time it takes dozens of doodles. When I see a doodle I like I start refining it and turn it into a proper drawing. After I’ve figured out the characters I work on the world, and the reality rules.  Do the animals wear clothes? Do they stand on two legs or all four? Are the plants like real plants or imaginary plants? There are a lot of creative decisions to be made in regards to how the world looks and behaves. Once you set the rules you have to stick with them. It definitely takes a lot of thought.

ErikI like how you described bringing your illustrations to life and all the things you have to consider when drawing them! Thank you again Mr. Harper! To read more, please visit my blog at

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22 replies

  1. Excellent interview. I haven’t had the pleasure of reading any of these books, but I am pinning them on my Pinterest Books I Want To Read board. They like great fun!

  2. I love that ‘dozens of doodles’ that’s a poem right there. I have totally blown my book budget this year, you are so naughty Erik bringing these two smashers! How can I possibly resist. Especially Turkey Claus, my kids would love it!!!! And they don’t read much they are very hard to please.

  3. I had to do a double take. I thought it said Harper Lee (who wrote To Kill a Mockingbird and he’s really old now if not dead). I wonder in Mr. Lee gets that a lot.

    I love Mr. Lee’s artistic style! These are great!

  4. I’m glad to hear your PB is coming along. And thanks for sharing the interview with Lee Harper. What a wonderful contact for you as an aspiring writer.

  5. Love those turkey covers! Grabs your attention immediately and you know the books are going to be fun! Great interview Erik. You do them so well!

  6. Cold Turkey? Maybe not…A great interview, Erik!

  7. What an excellent interview, Erik! I’m going to post the link in our Children’s Book Hub Facebook Group, I think there’s a lot of information that Mr. Harper gives that people could really learn from. And great to hear you’re still working on your story! Yay you!

  8. Great interview, Erik and Lee. Turkey Claus looks like a very cute book! I tried to see your Nov. story, but only the October issue seemed available.

    • Thanks Ms. Cho! I think because of the hurricane they may be a couple of days late in getting the paper out. 🙁 They usually publish on the first of the month or a day or two early. I’ll post and tweet when it is available.

  9. Wonderful interview Erik. Loved the Turkey books. Great work!

  10. Another great interview Erik. I don’t eat meat so I would be cheering for Turkey all the way! What a great idea for a series of books.

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