Picture Book Author Interview: Chieu Urban

I'm on vacation this week, so Picture Book University will resume next week. And to get you in the mood for the topic, I am excited to be able to share with you an interview by board book illustrator and author,
Chieu Urban! She is also offering some wonderful surprises at the end of the interview, so don't miss it!!!

Next week, I'll be doing the topic of board books and books for young children ages 3 and under. Editors have been calling for these books, so if you're not familiar with them, you might learn something new! 

Hi, Chieu!

I'm so glad to be able to interview you!  Board books are something I'd like to highlight, so it was providence!
Here are my questions:
What made you decide to become a picture book writer? How did you discover board books as a genre?  My true niche is in novelty books, which are highly visual, and include interactive elements.  I have a background in graphic design, and love creating playful books that offers fun exploration for our youngest readers.
What are your favorite picture books you've written? (Even if they aren't published yet!)  Definitely Away We Go! A Shape and Seek Book, which was released this June.  It’s a search-and-find concept book, and introduces shapes and transportation modes.  I’m really pleased with how the illustrations and die-cuts work together to make a fun shape-and-seek game for kids.
What are your favorite picture books that have inspired you? What makes them special?  I love many of Eric Carle’s book. I find his illustrations very captivating.  They are simple, clean, and bold, and The Hungry Caterpillar has been a favorite with all my girls.  Salina Yoon’s books are clever and fun.  Have you seen Pinwheel? It’s beautiful.
How long did it take for you to get published in picture books?  

It took about six years for my debut novelty book, Raindrops: A Shower of Colors, to be published.  During that time, I sketched out many ideas, attended SCBWI conferences, and learned as much as I could about the publishing world.
You write for ages 2-5. What makes board books different from other picture books, and what advice can you give in writing one? Can you give good examples to analyze?  
Board books are a child’s first book. They can play with it, and chew on it. These books are sturdier, and have less spreads with fewer words than picture books.  A board book has a higher chance of getting published if it is created by an author/illustrator.  I’ve read that if you are an author with a board book idea, it’s best to submit it as a picture book. Many successful picture books are later printed in board book editions.  If you have a great novelty idea, create a comprehensive dummy showing how the elements work, and research publishers that specifically publish novelty.
Are there any tips or tricks you've used in your work that made your writing stand out?  
I think having my graphic design skills has helped my artwork stand out. It especially plays a large part in the design and layout of the novelty elements, and how they are incorporated into the story to provide a more interactive and fun book.
Do you have an agent? Why or why not?
Yes, I am represent by Ronnie Ann Herman at the Herman Agency.  I enjoy creating books, but not so much with working on the business end of publishing.

What are you working on now?  
I just wrapped up a new concept dummy about shapes and the alphabet, and am very excited about this one.  I’m pleased with how the illustrations came together, and the silly, sing-song story line.  This dummy is fun and incorporates die-cuts throughout.   
9. What's your newest title about?
Away We Go! A Shape and Seek Book (Scholastic Cartwheel) introduces basic shapes and transportation modes, that are brightly illustrated with bold, colorful geometric shapes.  Die-cuts of shapes are layered throughout each page, for a fun shape-and seek-game.  The challenge is to find the vehicles in the shapes and the shapes in the vehicles.

If you want to learn more about Chieu, visit her website! She has amazing printables that go along with her books, too!

NOW for the surprise! She is offering TWO of her books for a drawing for two lucky winners! Sign your name here on this post and I'll enter you for a drawing. Announce her book on facebook, twitter, and your blog, you'll receive three entries! Let me know below!

As always, if you like this post, click the twitter, fb, and share!

Happy writing!


skywriter said...

Helpful and interesting interview -- thanks! I appreciate the great info, and it was encouraging to learn that it took six years to debut.

I would love to win one of your book. : )

SARAH8778 (at) aol (dot) com

Becky R said...

Love the look of that new book. Thanks for sharing!

KMR said...

I love books! Especially to chew on. :-)

Donna L Sadd said...

Great interview! I'd love to win a book and I've tweeted and shared to FB. :0)

LeslieG said...

Your books have such bold, appealing colors! Thanks for sharing your insights.

Ashley Bohmer said...

Great interview! I've never studied board-books before, so I learned a lot.--Thanks so much for the chance to win. :)

Marcia Strykowski said...

Nice interview! Her books look wonderful!

Johnell said...

Very informative. Thank you.

Lovingmama said...

Thank you for taking your time and sharing about your writing! What a bright and vivid book - I can see my 9 month old loving it!

Jennifer Rumberger said...

I'm catching up on your posts, love the info about board books/rhyme!