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FIVE ON FRIDAY with Melanie Hope Greenberg

FIVE ON FRIDAY welcomes Melanie Hope Greenberg, author and illustrator of the delightful picture book Mermaids on Parade in which a young girl takes part in the annual Mermaid Parade on Coney Island. You simply must check out this delightful book.

Visit Melanie at her website and please join me in welcoming this very talented artist to FIVE ON FRIDAY.

When did you know that you first wanted to be a writer/illustrator?

MHG: I am a self taught artist. An older sister went to art and fashion school; there were always art supplies around and in my teens I studied acting and singing and loved to perform. In my early twenties I worked at an art dealer/ frame shop in Manhattan where artists sold their work. I wanted to do that too because I connect to my essential self effortlessly through painting and chose to channel creativity this way. My first jobs were illustrating greeting cards but soon learned my art style was ideal for picture books. I acquired a picture book illustration agent who encouraged my writing. I really fell into
picture book publishing by luck and good timing.

What book or writer/artist do you feel influenced you the most?

MHG: Remember, I fell into this business by natural progression so most of my favorite authors wrote adult classics or were great poets. However, the illustrators I gravitate to use bright colors which evoke joy and balance; have great graphic style; or can transcend text to layer a picture book with silent stories created by the art. Top five: Franee Lessac, Diane Dillon, Pat Cummings, Betsy Lewin, Kathy Jakobsen. There are way too many artists to list, they range from ancient art and sculpture to many contemporary picture book illustrators and fine artists.

What book or books are you currently reading or have recently read that you’d recommend to others?

MHG : For the authors and illustrators I recommend An Author’s Guide to Children’s Book Promotion by Susan Salzman Raab. That probably sounds dry.  However, authors and illustrators must be their own publicity agent as well as a craftsperson. For now, there’s no time for fiction; Its all about learning skills t  be able to paint and eat. Grateful, I read the classics and poetry as bedrock.

If you could offer one piece of advice to aspiring writers (or illustrators), what would it be?

MHG: I have two: Use both sides of your brain; be the artist/writer and be the business professional. And follow your own true calling by staying away from trends. Originality is your job.

Can you share with us your next project or any information about the next book you’re working on?

MHG: Unless a book idea is under contract I am discreet about my creative ideas. I can say that new projects are being submitted. In the meanwhile, I am publicizing my book Mermaids on Parade as much as possible. The actual Coney Island Mermaid Parade in Brooklyn, NY which is the location and background story for my book, is 27 years old. Hopefully my book will stay alive that many years or more if I continue to nurture its existence to the collective mind.

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