Author and illustrator Mélanie Watt is the bestselling creative genius behind many beloved picture books for children, including the Scaredy Squirrel series, the Chester series, Bug in a Vacuum, You’re Finally Here!, Have I Got a Book for You!, and Augustine.
She is a multiple winner of the Ontario Library Association’s Blue Spruce Award and the Ruth & Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award.
Author Q&A with Mélanie Watt
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
I find inspiration all around me. In nature, watching animals, on the news, during discussions with family and friends, and by spending time with my son. I also have a pretty good memory when it comes to remembering childhood events. I recall happy feelings and/or concerns that I had back then and work from that.
What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?
I was a big fan of Disney’s Cinderella. I remember making my own book versions of that story and redrawing all the characters in my own style and reading it to my younger sister.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?
That so many kids and adults can relate to Scaredy Squirrel! Fear of the unknown is something we’ve all had to deal with at moments in our life. Having a character like Scaredy that can bring a little humor and silliness to challenging topics helps start conversations between kids and adults, which is great! Knowledge is power!
What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?
I think my main challenge is scheduling my time. Unlike Scaredy, I’m not the most organized individual! Before I became a mom, I would work at any time of the day or whenever ideas popped up in my head! Now, I need to work within a routine, but it’s all worth it!
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
Don’t be afraid to write and draw! Take out your paper, scissors, and glue and make a little book of your own. Believe in yourself! Did you know that I made a book in art class at university? And with the help of my art teacher, it was published and became my very first book, Leon the Chameleon. After that, I never stopped!