Timothy Roland is a writer, illustrator and cartoonist who has been creating humorous children’s books for twenty-plus years. He earned a BFA in art and design from Alfred University, and then worked as an elementary school art teacher and a corporate design artist before jumping into creating books fulltime. His published books (as both author and illustrator) include the DETECTIVE DAN series (Zondervan/HarperCollins), TEN HUNGRY MICE (Random House), COME DOWN NOW, FLYING COW! (Random House), and the COMIC GUY series (Scholastic). His new chapter book series, MONKEY ME, will be published by Scholastic beginning in January of 2014.
1. What must you have in your studio to inspire you?
Two caps, which I wore for work (in an amusement park, in a supermarket meat department) when twice during my book-creating career I needed to take on an additional job to pay bills. Technically, they’re more motivational than inspirational, but seeing them reminds me how fortunate I am to be doing what I’m doing fulltime, and keeps me from goofing off too much (which is easy when working at home) when I should be writing/illustrating.
2. What do you love most about drawing/writing? Would you rather do one over the other?
I love letting my imagination fly, thinking divergently, exploring and expressing ideas, creating something (a book) that entertains, educates and inspires. My formal training is in art, so for me, illustrating is easier and the results more predictable – which is why I slightly prefer writing. I enjoy the challenge of struggling and experimenting with both the craft and art of writing, knowing that I’ll most likely be surprised (occasionally pleasantly) with the results.
3. What is the hardest and easiest part of the illustration process for you?
I tend to write with pictures and draw with words. Although I write first, I usually see the illustrations in my mind as I’m doing it. In my new series, MONKEY ME, a hyperactive boy turns into a real monkey whenever he gets over-excited, and when he does, the book turns from an all-text to an all-graphic format. So there’s a seamless blend of writing and illustrating.
For me, the easiest part of the illustration process (because of my many years of practicing the craft) is physically creating the art. But it’s also the hardest, since my right eye (due to a severe retina detachment) can no longer see images as sharply as it used to.
4. What five words best sum up your personality?
Quiet, persistent, curious, hardworking, inventive
5. Other than writing/drawing, what else do you love to do?
Reading (of course), walking/hiking, watching sports, raking leaves, and juggling (balls, rings, clubs . . . and book projects)
6. Describe your perfect day.
For me, the perfect day might include facing and conquering a major creative challenge, spending time with friends and family, walking/working/playing outside, hearing from readers/fans, having a new book accepted for publication, receiving a larger than expected royalty payment, being struck with a blockbuster idea, and having enough time to do everything I need to do (including, if I feel like it, doing nothing at all).
7. Do you have a particular work schedule you follow?
I work six days a week (Monday through Saturday), and try to be in my “studio” (a filing cabinet, bookcase, old drawing table and computer in the corner of my kitchen) by 8:30. I usually work straight through until 2:30, take a break (for a walk, maybe eat a little), then continue working. How long I work depends on what type of work I’m doing, the day of the week, what the weather’s like, and if I’m being squeezed by a tight deadline.
8. What are some of your past, current, and/or next projects?
I just finished the first ten chapters of a middle grade novel trilogy, which I’m excited (but not yet ready to share details) about. I have a beginning reader (manuscript, book dummy, sample illustrations) out at publishers. But my biggest project right now is MONKEY ME. I (or rather my agent, Scott Treimel) just sold the series to Scholastic, so for the next year or two (or longer if they pick up more books), I’ll be juggling the creating of text, inside illustrations, back matter and covers for the first four books.
9. What would you like children to take away from your books?
From my work, I’d like my readers to be entertained, to laugh, and to be encouraged to think, question, imagine and explore.
10. Where can we reach you? (Twitter, Facebook, website, blog, etc.)
Right now, only by email, although I hope to have a website up and running before MONKEY ME is published.
Thanks, Tim! Keep us posted on your new release!