Friday, January 25, 2013

Interview with Barbara McClintock

The DMS was lucky enough to interview Barbara McClintock, illustrator of the lovely children's picture book Leave Your SleepRecently, we reviewed this unique compilation of children's poems and music, and it was great to share our thoughts about it and hear yours! We are excited to learn a little bit more about the story behind the story. So, without further ado... take it away, Barbara! 

What was your experience like working on Leave Your Sleep with Natalie Merchant?
Our editor, Frances Foster, was in the standard editor role acting as traffic cop/coordinator on the project. Natalie, the art director Roberta Presseler and I worked very closely with Frances, and she relayed information between us. Natalie visited me in my studio as we were working on the project. Once the artwork was in, Natalie and I have been speaking together at events, and we just filmed a video in a public school in NYC together, working with elementary school children. Natalie, Frances, and I had a closely- overlapping vision of the book - it was an exhilarating project for all of us. 

 How long did it take you to illustrate Leave Your Sleep?
About a year and a half
Natalie Merchant & Barbara McClintock working on Leave Your Sleep

Where do you draw your inspiration from? Were there any specific illustrators who inspired you? 

 I love the work of JJ Grandville, Gustav Dore, Thomas Rowlandson, and Randolf Caldecott. They are my constant mentors and guides. 

Which was your favorite poem to illustrate in Leave Your Sleep?

THE EQUESTRIANNE was a lot of fun to work on - I had a horse when I was young, and take riding lessons at a nearby stable. I copied anatomical drawings of horses by George Stubbs (a 19th century painter who specialized in horses ), drew from plastic horse models as well as drawing live horses, and watched many, many YouTube videos of bareback circus riders. Next lifetime, I'd like to come back as a circus rider!  

If you could befriend a character from any book, who would you befriend? Why?

Ebenezer Bleezer, because I could get all the cool ice cream I wanted! 

Where do you like to draw? Do you listen to music while you are working?

I have a studio in my home where I do all my drawing. I listen to music, or the radio, or audible books, or even movies and HBO series on Netflix while I work. It's like having office mates as I'm working! 

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Why?

I've travelled a lot, and there are so many places I love. Paris is my favorite city, but I love London and New York and Hong Kong, too. Where I am right now in Windham, Ct is my ideal place to liveI find that having a comfortable, secure home base where I can work and have friends is perfect; as long as I'm near an airport, I can commute to anyplace I want to go. I'm very connected to other authors and illustrators around the world thru the internet, so I can be in France, Spain, China, and Italy while sipping my morning coffee in my circa 1815 brick house, looking out over the rose garden that my significant other, David Johnson, has planted and tends. 

Where can we purchase your books?

The UConn co-op bookstore, of course! Or, you can go to my website,, go to the books link, and order from there. 

 Amazon ☞ Barnes and Noble


Read the reviews!

**We were also very lucky to get to meet with Barbara McClintock at the 2012 UCONN Children's Book Fair. It was amazing to listen to her talk about her experience as an illustrator and learn more about her books! 

Click here to check out the 2012 UCONN Children's book fair : ) 


  1. Hey, Jess, I didn't know you had two blogs. When did this happen? And why? Sorry I haven't been around lately. I picked up some editing for pay and it's left me little free time. But thanks for stopping by so often. I smile every time I read your comments.

    1. Hi Sher, Thanks so much for popping over here to visit with us! We've had this site for as long as Fairday's Blog! We love hearing your thoughtful comments! ~ Jess & Stephanie