A few months ago I was surfing on the internet and came across a children’s book that caught my eye my eye immediately with its eye-catching cover. The children’s book – Belle’s Wings, by author, MJ Gillot completely captivated me. I immediately contacted the author and illustrator, M.J. Gillot to ask if I could interview her and review the book. I was absolutely thrilled when MJ contacted me and gave me approval.
According to MJ, “Belle’s Wings” is about a tortoise named Belle. She is an artist and a dreamer, singing and drawing in the dirt of her zoo enclosure. Her best friend, Lankford, is a giraffe. His height makes him a great lookout and grape-gatherer, and Belle loves to eat grapes. When Belle tells Lankford about her fondest wish, Lankford must decide whether to show his skepticism or be supportive of his friend’s unusual dream. Both characters grow and learn about courage, resourcefulness, loyalty and love. The story has 2,398 words, and every spread is generously illustrated. The book also includes a small poster.” Beautifully illustrated the book is in chapter book format and is available both as an ebook and a paperback.
1. When did you decide to become an author and what impact has this had on your life?
I started creating books before I knew how to write! One of the first words I could write was “JELL-O.” So I would staple together paper and draw pictures of random people, dogs, cats and our parakeet to accompany nonsense text interspersed with “DOG,” “CAT,” “JELL-O” and “MARY JAYNE.” I was about three or four at the time.
I have always gained a tremendous sense of tranquility and accomplishment from working with books. The jobs I’ve had in the publishing industry have nearly always been my favorites.
2. Tell us about your latest work and what motivated you to write it:
My current project is a picture book, this time for younger children, called “Zola Yearned for an Excellent Waffle.” I wanted to do something humorous, quirky and unconventional, and it is all of that. It is really fun, but progress has been frustratingly slow!
3. What are your future aspirations as an author?
I am teaming up with a brilliant writer and educator to create at least one or two children’s projects. I will be illustrating them. I have also been working on a dark comedy about an undertaker, but it’s going to take quite a bit more time. That one is for adults, of course.
4. Where do your ideas come from, (what inspires you)? What experiences or aspects of your life influence your writing?
So many of my best ideas come to me in the shower! Another fertile time for creativity is on long drives. But the origins of the ideas vary considerably. Dreams, the way certain combinations of words or ideas strike me, and sometimes even the most awful experiences can be inspiring.
5. What do you do to improve yourself and a writer and illustrator?
Practice! Just keep doing it. Sometimes I fill pages with absolute garbage just to get it out of my system. One of my art teachers told me that talent can only take an artist so far; it takes experience to become great.
Thank you MJ for your interview and a glimpse into your world as an author and illustrator.
Belle’s Wings is available on Lulu.
My rating: **** 4 stars