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by Betty Dravis

Susan Alcott Jardine is an amazing woman! Not only is she an author, an artist, former actress and an award-winning screenwriter, she and her equally-amazing husband, Neal, are among the most active animal activists in California, and possibly, the nation.

I met Susan about four years ago, shortly after interviewing her former high-school friend, Actor/Producer Tony Tarantino, for Dream Reachers II, a book I co-authored with Chase Von. Susan’s book, The Channel: Stories from L.A., came out about the same time, so I jumped at the chance to review it. A haunting, well-written book… Needless to say, Susan has a way with words… The Channel is available at many online bookstores, including Barnes & Noble and Amazon:

susan triple pic art book and green door

Susan was born and raised in Los Angeles where she majored in theatre arts at El Camino College and California State University, LA. As mentioned above, she worked as an actress in theatre, television and film before working behind the scenes in music production/publishing, as a writer/editor for entertainer Kenny Rogers’s “Special Friends” newsletter, in entertainment law and broadcast television. She and her writing partner Marc Havoc received the WGA Foundation Award for their screenplay Lullabyeland.

susan in bus stop

ECC Theater Production of “Bus Stop,” directed by Joseph D’Agosta who also played Bo to Susan’s Cherie. — with Neal Jardine at El Camino College, Torance, CA.

While playing a role in a film at Paramount Pictures, Susan not only met Tony Bennett and the late Stephen Boyd, she also became friends with the acclaimed screenwriter Harlan Ellison who wrote the screenplay for The Oscar, among many other acclaimed literary/cinematic successes. Ellison became her mentor, actually critiquing her first published story from The Channel: Stories from L.A.,The Metamorphosis of Nathanial Kronstadt, which was first published in Ellery Queens’s Mystery Magazine back in 1985. She acknowledges Ellison as “a turning point and inspiration” in her life. For more about Harlan Ellison, check Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harlan_Ellison

susan with neal by artThis versatile and talented woman is also a painter, and her artwork is in private collections in the US, San Salvador, and Kenya, East Africa, including the permanent collection of Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center. She lives in the Los Angeles area with her husband Neal and many rescued cats.
Art website: http://www.GreenDoorEditions.com

While most of us writers dream of having movies developed from our books, Susan’s dream is much more altruistic: she and her husband Neal dream of founding a Feral and Stray Cat Foundation.

Since 2006, Susan and Neal have been actively rescuing feral and stray cats from the freeway berm that runs behind their home. Over the years they have been trapping, spaying, neutering and moving mother cats, kittens and new litters into their Green Door Editions (GDE) art studio, as well as using it for a recovery area for sick and injured cats. The Jardines named the studio their “temporary kitty hospital.”

susan's neal with cats on bed

Susan confided, “’Life’ and recent unforeseen events sent us into a tailspin here at GDE, forcing us to regroup and formulate a Plan B. But, from the chaos and re-grouping, New Doors opened up to a new path for us here at GDE. Through a loving gift from my late parents’ Trust, as if by magic, there was a ‘Gift’ to be used to start our animal rescue foundation.”

In 2015, the Jardines plan to open their non-profit foundation: “Alex & Friends’ Foundation” which will benefit ‘Feral & Stray Cat Rescue.’ Neal will be working from the legal aspect to set up a non-profit (501) (c) (3) to comply with Federal and state Regulations, and Susan will utilize her art & writing to create the logo and artwork for small gift items that can be added to a new website for the foundation.

dog with poster“It won’t happen overnight,” Susan said, “but by baby steps, we can slowly set it up and connect with other non-profits in the community. We will keep you posted and let you know when we’re finally up and running. A lot of legal work needs to be done before we can go forward, like setting up our Board of Directors, financial account, etc. The good news is that the non-profit status has already been approved by the IRS. We are moving forward and will keep you posted when it is finally up and running as a non-profit animal rescue foundation.”

I’m excited for Susan and Neal…and for all the animals they are helping. I admire them and others who care enough about animals to devote their lives and resources to them. To learn more about all the animals they help, check Susan’s Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/susan.alcottjardine?fref=ts Don’t forget to check Susan’s site on a regular basis so you can either rescue a pet yourself or donate to this worthy cause.

ENDNOTE: Not essential to this story is a fact I would like to mention before closing: Neal’s brother is the famous Al Jardine of the Beach Boys. Since we and most of our fans love The Beach Boys, I thought you might enjoy that interesting tidbit.

Susan and Neal with Al Jardine

Neal and Susan celebrated with Al Jardine at his performance and book signing on the Target stage at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books at UCLA. After performing his hit song, “Sloop John B,” Al greeted fans and signed copies of his children’s book, “Sloop John B: A Pirate’s Tale,” which also contained a CD of the song.

al jardine with brian wilson at bb concert in indio ca august 30 2014

BEACH BOYS Brian Wilson & Al Jardine still going strong as they prove at a recent concert in Indio, California. Next year they will take the ever-popular songs of the Boys to the UK.

 

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Author Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis: Welcome to Dames of Dialogue, Sally Rowland. We are mostly about writers, but we love the other arts too. It’s a great pleasure to have you here and to share your artworks with our readers.

You’ve been a Facebook friend of mine for a while, but oddly, I got to know you better when you challenged me to the Words Game. I don’t like to brag, but I beat you nine times out of ten. (laughs) Anyway, you took it in stride and when we joked about it is when we bonded even more. Needless to say, I enjoy roaming through your Facebook albums, viewing all your art and photos.

This brings me to your first question: Sally, what were you like as a child and when did you first start sketching and realize you had artistic flair?

Sally Rowland: Hi, Betty, and thank you so much for inviting me to be a part of your Dames of Dialogue family. I must say I was surprised, but pleasantly so, to be asked to share my artwork with you all.

I’m enjoying being beaten by you in the Words game–but it’s early days! Maybe we should be playing a drawing game, too, to even things up a bit? (laughs)

Artist Sally Rowland

Anyway, to your first question: I was born and spent the first ten years of my life in Bristol, England. I come from what is known as a “working class” family, which really means you didn’t have a lot of money. I think for many children back then, you didn’t have many “things” and had to rely on your imagination to have fun. I have fond memories of making mud pies in old cans, while we girls pretended we were cooking.

I remember loving to paint and draw as a little girl and I think I might have been about five or six when I won a prize at school for painting a clear plastic container with daffodils. Well, they were meant to be daffodils, but more likely just green and yellow blobs. (laughs) My biggest passion back then, though, was music. We were taught to read music and I played the recorder, finally moving up to the bass recorder, as I was the only one who had the finger span to play it.

My Christmas gifts were nearly always craft themed: Paint by Numbers, knitting kits, books and my favorite “Fuzzy Felt,” which was a box of cut-out felt pieces that you could attach to a board and make all your own scenes, pull off and do again and again.

My family immigrated to New Zealand not long after I turned ten and that was a huge change for us. The school system is quite different and I loved English and anything artistic. I did woodworking, metal craft, art, photography and so on. I think it was during that time I discovered my real love of drawing, so my essays and school projects were always full of pictures I’d drawn to go along with the required words. My favorite part of the art classes was actually doing a wood-block print and an etching on a slab of rubber that was then turned into a print. I still have a scar where the knife left the slab and went right over my thumb…

Sally Rowland – High atop the world in her native UK; an area known as Carn Brea that overlooks Redruth and other parts of Cornwall.

Betty Dravis: I have to laugh at you mentioning the Facebook game of Draw Something, Sally. I enjoy that one with my kids and a few friends. I’m such a terrible artist that I have no doubt you’d outdo me in technique, but I’m still pretty good at guessing the pictures. My drawings look like a kindergartner’s, but I’m getting pretty adept with stick figures. (laughs)

But back to your art, did you or your parents keep any of your younger works?

Sally Rowland: I’m sure my daffodils ended up in the garbage because I wasn’t really a prolific painter when younger, but I did do a wooden bird sculpture at school in New Zealand that my parents still actually have today. It’s complete with a burned beak, as I got a bit carried away when we had to use a flame to give it some color.

Sally’s favorite portrait of her “Mum” Margaret

Betty Dravis: I bet your parents really hated to part with the daffodil art. We tend to love everything our children do…good or bad, but it seems like they made a good choice, keeping the sculpture.

What’s your favorite medium?

Sally Rowland: I would have to say oil is my favorite medium. I’m entirely self-taught in regards to painting, Betty. I never had any formal training, so using oils was a way to be able to correct mistakes before the paint dried. (laughs) I also find that oils match the way I like to paint, which is a lot of blending to get my desired color and effect. I do the same when doing pencil portraits; lots of smudging and blending going on there too.

In recent years I’ve started to dabble with digital painting and I find that I do that the same way I paint with oils–lots of layers and blending. The good thing about digital is that, of course, there’s no mess–I’m a very messy painter–no time limit on drying and if I don’t like what I just did on a layer, I simply delete it and start over. Another thing I love about digital is that you can work on one thing at a time and when you’re happy with it, you can simply merge it into the main piece of work.

Betty Dravis: Digital painting fascinates me, Sally, so thanks for sharing some of the intricacies. I’ve seen samples of all your mediums and they’re fabulous. I think my favorite oil is the one that looks like a scene from a Greek isle. The colors are so vibrant… I like to think of that painting as a “feel-good” work. It really cheers me up.

Since you didn’t mention watercolors above, we would appreciate hearing a little about that. I saw some samples of your “exercises” and if I recall correctly you said on Facebook that you were beginning to try your hand at that. How’s that project coming along?

Sally Rowland: Oh the “Greek Village” painting… You have a good eye, Betty! I love that one myself, and you’re right, it’s definitely a feel-good painting. The joy in creating it is that I got to use whatever colors I wanted for the buildings, while still trying to keep it looking somewhat “Greek.” (laughs) I’m glad it cheers you up; it certainly does it for me too. I even got that one professionally photographed and sold some prints, as well.

But on to the watercolors: I’m definitely all at sea with that particular medium. My late mother-in-law, who was one of my biggest fans, used them. Although she was pretty modest about her talent, she painted some lovely works which we have here, along with lots of paints, brushes and papers she had amassed. She inspired me to give it a try and, as you mentioned, the exercises I tried were fun, but hard. I’d still like to get into it more at some point, but I’ll definitely need to take some courses. I can remember her telling me that her teacher kept saying, “More water, Patsy… More water…” (laughs) Nevertheless, it’s a whole new way of painting that I’m looking forward to trying one day in the not-too-distant future.

At the moment, though, I’m just enjoying having a room for my art supplies…one I can make a mess in and nobody cares. (laughs) We recently–well almost a year ago now–moved to a new city and home, so we’ve been busy redecorating. The first room to be finished is, of course, my art room, so I’m just settling into that and looking forward to finally having a dedicated space in which to pursue my passion properly.

Betty Dravis: If your exercises are any indication, you’ll be great at that too, Sally. I have two favorites: the red one with the chair and table and the purple viola. It will be interesting to see how you progress in the future, but never give up your oils…

So you have been traveling around quite a bit. I bet it’s exciting to be back in Canada again. I have some dear friends there; it’s a lovely country, eh? (laughs) From the few photos I’ve seen, your new home looks very comfortable and you’re making headway in setting up your work areas. I bet you look forward to getting back in the swing with the Belleville Art Association. Tell us about your plans for the future.

Sally Rowland: Yes, I guess I’m a bit of a gypsy! (laughs) I’ve always loved to travel and experience new things, and immigrating to Canada was certainly a big move. While things don’t always work out the way you expect, it’s fun to just take what life throws at you and do the best you can. Eventually, it all works out just the way it should, although it can take a bit longer than you thought to get where you want to be.

As I mentioned, we’ve been here in Belleville for almost a year now. I had intended to join the local Arts Association straight away, but thought it would be better to get settled first and get a few things sorted out so that I could make the most of what they have to offer. With that in mind, I’m looking at joining them later this year. I’m really looking forward to meeting other local artists and learning some new things along the way.

Betty Dravis: I’m really curious about digital painting, so one more question about that, Sally. Is that accepted in the art communities as “real” art? Also, I notice that most of your digital art is of movie stars. Your portrait of Sandra Bullock is certainly lifelike. Beautiful… I admire her greatly, but my favorite digital photo is of the unforgettable and gorgeous Marilyn Monroe. Are you, like most everyone these days, fascinated with movies and the entertainment world?

Sally Rowland: Ah, the good old question: “Is digital art real art?” Personally, I say yes, it is, although I know a lot of artists who disagree. To me, it’s simply another medium. You still have to have the talent to design, draw, paint, etc. On top of that, you also have to be able to use the software to bring it all together, so I view it as just another tool to create with.

I need to purchase a proper painting software package at some stage. Currently I use a photo/paint program; it’s not the best thing, so it really challenges me. To me, the process is almost the same as painting with oils, etc.: You sketch the idea, then use that as a base to add layer upon layer of color and shape until you get the final product. I mentioned the things I like most about digital painting above, but I’d like to stress the point: the flexibility is a definite bonus.

Yes I must admit most of my digital work has been of movie stars, but to be honest, I’m not really into movies/celebrities/entertainment. Photos of stars are so abundant on-line that I found them useful for learning how to use my software. (laughs) I do love trying portraits, though, so I guess that is why there are so many. Many years ago, I recall having a book of portraits of movie stars–the black and white studio shots. I didn’t really care who they were, I just loved the actual photographs. I have to admit that I do have a few books about Marilyn Monroe, though. I found her life intriguing and very sad, rather than glamorous, despite that she was quite the beauty at the time.

Betty Dravis: Sally,I think all generations adore Marilyn; she’s a real, unforgettable legend. But, OMG, I almost forgot that you also did a digital of my very favorite: Clint Eastwood. Although that’s not one of my favorites of your works, I love all things “Clint,” as everyone knows. Since I was lucky enough to interview and get to know him a little–back in the day—I’ve never forgotten him. At the time of the interview, I didn’t realize how much larger-than-life he is, but he put me so at ease that I immediately bonded with him. I made him my mentor (from afar) and tried to shape my career after his. Fat chance! (laughs)

But getting off the subject for a minute, since art is a rather passive activity, how do you keep in shape? Do you have a favorite exercise regime or do you simply rely on healthy eating? Or could it be that your husband Pete and your three cats keep you hopping? (laughs)

Sally Rowland: Oh my, Betty! Keeping in shape! I have to admit to being a passive exerciser also… (laughs) I think the biggest thing I ever did was a 10k marathon which I loved. I also used to play on an indoor cricket team (both all-girl and mixed teams). However, over the years I’ve noticed that I can’t do a lot. I have scoliosis (curvature of the spine). It’s not too bad, but one false move and I’m in pain for days. Keeping in shape now is probably limited to gardening and healthy eating. Now that we’re out of the city and living in a less populated area, I think I’d like to get back to biking, a great way to stay in shape and also see more of the area.

Oh yes, Pete and the cats definitely keep me on my toes, as well, but that could be an entire book if I told you everything. (laughs)

Sally with Tyson as a kitty.

Betty Dravis: Well, Sally, you certainly look fit and trim, and I’m very sorry to hear that you have scoliosis. With that in mind, you seem to have come up with the right solution for yourself: gardening and healthy eating. Sounds very sensible to me…

Perhaps you will write that book one day, with illustrations, of course, but the world will have to wait. (laughs) Now speaking of cats, I heard that there’s an interesting story about one of them that traveled back from New Zealand to Canada with you. Do you mind sharing that with our readers? The Dames love animals…

Sally Rowland: My oldest cat, Tyson, now almost thirteen, has probably racked up more air miles than some people. I got him as a kitten back in New Zealand and within months we were headed off to Canada. (I swear there are more paperwork and conditions for moving pets than people–at least there was back then…)

Then after a while we decided to go back to New Zealand, so off he went again… Loads of paper work and then quarantine back in New Zealand (more strict animal import regime). After some time there, and with my in-laws getting older and needing help, we decided to go back to Canada. By that time, we had adopted another cat from the local SPCA. Tyson took it in his stride, though, and was a real trouper.

The day we picked them up from the airport was so funny. We got a bit of a runaround, but finally got sent to the right ‘hangar.’ All we could hear was loud meowing as they were delivered to us, howling inside their cages–on a forklift! The silly thing about it all was that when we went back to New Zealand, Tyson had to be micro-chipped (NZ law). It was apparently so that he could be tracked. However, even with the government-approved micro-chip the cattery/pet shipping company that we used when we finally came back here said that they couldn’t read the chip. So much for that! (laughs)

Tyson has been through a lot for a cat; we all know how cats need routine and familiar surroundings. He’s now getting old and has had some health scares, but he is still my baby and we’ll do whatever we can to make sure he has a great “retirement.” (laughs)

Betty Dravis: Aw-www, poor Tyson, but he’s well loved, Sally… Truthfully, he has many more air miles than I do. I enjoyed your interesting stories about pets and airlines. I never realized pet transportation policies were that strict. With Tyson and the other two cats in mind, I hope you decide to stay in Canada for the duration. (laughs)

From little cats to big cats; Sally with her tiger print.

Now, if you don’t mind my asking, Sally, where do you get your inspiration for a particular painting or work? Art, like book publishing, is a tough, competitive field. Is your family supportive of your career choice?

Sally Rowland: In the last few years, Betty, I have to admit to not feeling terribly inspired. As with everyone, I suppose, life situations get in the way. I find I’m still trying to find my own niche. I often say, “I’m a jack-of-all-trades, master of none,” so in a way, I’m still on my own journey of self discovery. I’m definitely leaning more towards portraits, but as you say, like book publishing, art is also very tough and competitive, so I’m happy to take on anything…well, apart from landscapes. (laughs)

I’m very lucky to have an extremely supportive family. Painting had not been my choice of career at all, despite loving it. My career background is actually in finance, banking and tourism, of all things. Art had always been just a hobby, so I feel really blessed to be able to get involved in something I’ve always loved.

With my own family back in New Zealand and in the UK, it’s always lovely to send them photos of my art–what I’ve done or am working on–and get feedback. I remember when my parents had to have their dog put to sleep: He’d been so unwell and, although it was the right decision, it was heartbreaking. I decided to paint Mac as a puppy–when he was all healthy and vibrant–but it took my Mum quite some time before she could even open the parcel and finally get it framed.

Betty Dravis: It’s heartening to know that your family has been supportive of you, whether in tourism or art, Sally.That means a lot to anyone and often makes the difference between success and failure.

Speaking of support, Sally, do you have a favorite artist? If so, tell us about him or her…

One of Sally’s favorite artists is Tamara De Lempicka. Above is her version of one of her paintings; hanging on wall of Sally’s rec room.

Sally Rowland: Gosh, Betty, it’s hard to say I have one favorite artist. I love so many styles. It’s like I love ice-cream but all the flavors are delicious… (laughs) But when I think about it, my top artist would have to be Modigliani. We went to an exhibition of his art back in 2005 in Toronto. I was just totally blown away seeing them in the flesh, after only ever seeing them on-line or in a book. They were huge…vibrant…and up close you could see his brush work and the lines from his original sketch on the canvas. Awesome…

Needless to say I could never afford his work, so I decided to paint my own. I’m also a huge fan of Rosina Wachtmeister; her cat paintings are wonderful, as are her other works. I admire Vermeer for his use of light… Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Beryl Cook …ad infinitum I’m afraid. (laughs)

Betty Dravis: I anticipated such an answer, Sally. When I ask authors about their favorite author, they almost always have a long list. (laughs)

With those choices in mind, it will be interesting to see how you answer this question: If you could spend a day with just one person (living or dead), who would you choose and why?

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, I’ve been doing a lot of family research over the years and hit a huge road block with my own great-grandfather on my father’s side. He’s not famous, but he’s elusive and I can’t find anything much about who he really was, or his family, so I’d have to say it would be him.

I’d like to sit down with him for one day, notebook in hand, and ask him thousands of questions about his life and our family history. The most we know about him is that he was a musician in the Army back in the 1800s and spent over a decade in India and perhaps other countries; beyond that there is nothing. He’s a mystery and I love mystery…

Sally at an art show in New Zealand in 2005.

Sally poses with some of her art in Port Credit, Ontario in 2005.

Betty Dravis: That’s a very human choice, Sally. It’s too bad that so much of our personal family history gets lost because we’re too busy to ask our parents when we’re young, not becoming interested until it’s too late.

Sally, when you’re actively working, what’s a typical day like for you? Do you have any habits or established routines that work best for fulfilling your daily commitments?

Sally Rowland: I mentioned earlier that I’m a messy painter. For me, I just get absorbed in what I’m doing. I prefer to listen to music, which depends on what exactly it is I’m working on. I throw on my old clothes because I just know I’m going to get paint everywhere. (laughs) There is never a set routine; I just like to go with the flow.

Betty Dravis: Sally, I hear you loud and clear! That’s so typical of artistic types. I get so absorbed in my writing, I often forget to eat or even get out of my jammies. (laughs)

Which painting turned out to be your biggest challenge? Do you have a personal favorite?

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, my biggest challenge–and it was actually a challenge on an art forum–was painting The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I had never attempted to reproduce or paint from a master, so I thought I should give it a go. Even to this day, I really don’t know how I did it. I just got lost in the process and loved it. It’s still my personal favorite. I gave it to my mother-in-law as a gift, and now, since she passed away, it’s back with me. That gives it a personal touch and some lovely memories too.

Sally’s version of Vermeer’s Girl With Pearl Earring.

Betty Dravis: Oh, I love that one, too. I had forgotten about it, but when selecting the Greek painting over The Girl with the Pearl Earring, I did so mainly for the cheerfulness of the painting, not for quality. I must say, the latter is absolutely phenomenal work, even if you did copy a master. Your rendition is brilliant, Sally.

Now for your next question, what advice do you have for aspiring artists?

Sally Rowland: From where I am now–at this later time in life—I would tell them to embrace their passion. Take as many classes as you can to help you, but don’t ever let that interfere with what you love to do. I hate that phrase “think outside the box”; I’d prefer to hear, “There is no box.” While I sometimes wish I had taken notice of what I loved to do, I realize there is a reason your journey takes you where you need to go first. Just keep that passion going…

Betty Dravis: That’s great advice, Sally. I never thought of it exactly like that; it’s thought provoking. I do agree about the passion; that makes the difference between winning and losing.

What is your most cherished memory of a viewer reaction to your work?

Sally’s work for Flintstone Lounge at end-of-season ball in mid 90s.

Sally Rowland: For me, every reaction is important, be it good or bad. One painting I sold started out as a really silly thing. I looked at it and went “arrghh,” so I turned it into a seascape. All in blue: clouds, sky, boat… All of it! When I posted the changed painting, someone wanted to buy it. They loved it–and that made me very happy.

Betty Dravis: Since blue is my favorite color, that sounds like “eye candy” to me. I’d like to see that one sometime. I think it may be on your lovely videotape (link below).

But now for a fun question! I waited till near the end to put you on the spot, but do you mind sharing the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you in connection with your artistic works?

Sally Rowland: Oh, this question took me all of two seconds to answer, Betty. (laughs) It has to be when I took part in another on-line art challenge. One of the pieces you could do was a Frans Hals. I loved it, so thought, “Yes, why not?” I thought not only could I paint, I could also have a go at using a palette knife. So off I went… But I couldn’t figure out why the paint was soaking into the canvas I was using. I was almost halfway through before I felt like running from the room screaming because I’d actually painted on the wrong side of the canvas! I did finish it, still have it, and it’s a reminder that sometimes mistakes are worth keeping.

Betty Dravis: Oh-hahaha, Sally. That is funny. I’m glad you treasure the work now, though…mistake or not! You certainly have a fun, exciting life…

Now before leaving, I’d be remiss if I failed to mention that you also design CD covers. Please share about the ones you’ve created.

Two of Sally’s CD covers for Guitarra Azul are hanging in her new art room.

Sally Rowland: Oh yes, the CD covers… I’ve really loved this aspect of my art. I found Guitarra Azul, a Chicago-based band, through MySpace about four or five years ago and loved their music. I was lucky enough to be asked by Steve Edwards to paint something for their second CD. I love their music, so was really happy to do it. My first one was for Oasis; an 18×18 oil painting on which I had to actually change the title on the canvas itself. (McGuyver skills coming into play here.) Then in late 2011, I started work on a digital painting for their latest release Lotus Flower. I’m very happy for my art work to be a part of such wonderful music.

More recently I have designed and digitally painted a cover for Simon Allan in the UK for his upcoming EP release Demons and Dreams. We’re working together for another release later this year, also. It’s very exciting for me, and I hope, for them as well.

Sally’s digital painting cover created for Simon Allan’s upcoming CD Demons and Dreams.

Betty Dravis: Since you love music, it’s very appropriate that your work be on CD covers, Sally. I’ve seen all three covers and while I love them all, I’m captivated by the Demons and Dreams cover. Probably because my latest book, Six-Pack of Blood, is a horror anthology (co-authored with the very gifted writer Barbara Watkins) and I spent some time with the cover artist. I can picture that particular painting on the cover of a horror book. (laughs)

I also understand that one of your works is scheduled to be in a book. Please share that with us.

Sally Rowland: I guess this is where fun meets something wonderful, Betty. My friend Brian Bohnett, who is an author and also a graphic artist, has been working on a biography for many years now. Brian has done an amazing job on his biography The Remarkable Enid Markey: First Lady of the Tarzan Films. This will be an eye-opener because most people would recognize the men who played “Tarzan,” but not many would know the “Janes.”

While Brian was sharing his journey, he sent me some lovely photos; one caught my eye, so I decided to try painting it digitally. It was all in fun, but I am happy to say he has included it as a frontispiece to his biography, and it’s also part of a set of cards to go along with the book. The book is being released at a convention in California this coming August. I am so excited for him and proud to be involved, even if in only a small way.

Enid Markey

Betty Dravis: That sounds like a fascinating book, Sally. This is a coincidence, but I have a Tarzan tie-in: In my 1106 Grand Boulevard novel, I tell the story of my aunt’s first husband being Franky Johnston, the swimming coach who taught Johnny Weissmuller to swim for his role as Tarzan. Small world…and the Internet has made it even smaller. (laughs)

It sounds like you have some great projects coming your way. Since we’re almost finished, now’s the time to mention any other plans you might have.

Sally Rowland: Well, Betty, after I settle into the art community, as mentioned above, I’ve also got plans to get my own website up and running so that I can start selling my work, be it paintings, prints or digital. I like to think of myself as a bit of a late bloomer in the art world. I know how competitive it is, so I know that to be successful I’ll have to have a good business plan. That all takes time and is something I’ll be working on this year also.

Betty Dravis: I’m so happy for you, Sally. You sound so vibrant and full of life. The move seems to have agreed with you.

Before closing, I’d like to tell our readers that they can find more of your artwork in the photos on Facebook, and the YouTube video has a vast array of your works. I love the way it’s presented in sections. All your works are great, but the pencil sketches amaze me too. We didn’t get around to discussing the sketches, but an example is to the right. It all starts with an artist’s ability to sketch, so the fine examples on the video are important. The links follow and readers should keep in mind that the contact info at end of the YouTube is outdated. Sally will share that with us when she gets completely relocated.

https://www.facebook.com/sally.rowland.3

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7cCTXxLBMo8&feature=player_embedded#!

Black-and-white photograph of Sally, enhanced by infusion of light.

Thanks for being with us today, Sally, It’s been a pleasure getting to know more about you and to view your stunning art. We look forward to your website so we can check into buying some of your art. Until next time, please keep in touch and send your website link so I can put it out on the social media.

Sally Rowland: Thank you, Betty, for allowing me to be a part of your world. It’s always a pleasure to join with other artistic people. I know you showcase many successful people, so as a still-emerging artist, I truly appreciate that you took an interest in me. And you’ll be the first I inform when my website is up and running. Thanks again, for having me on Dames of Dialogue.

Since I’m retired, I find myself writing while wearing my very unglamorous jammies more and more often. At first that made me feel sort of odd because I was used to dressing up for my job as newspaper publisher…and I didn’t want to slip too much and go the Grunge Route.

But then I heard that Stephen King and many of the biggies often write in their pajamas and I began to take a certain professional delight in it…except when the gardener, my Avon lady, or a neighbor drops in unexpectedly. 🙂

Since misery loves company, I decided to ask some other artists what they wear while creating.

Enjoy – Betty Dravis http://www.bettydravis.com

Mark LaFlamme, author and award-winning crime reporter

(Lewiston Journal in Maine)

It’s unfortunate, really. Some of my best story ideas come to me while I’m in the shower. I don’t know how to explain this. Is it the heat? The thrill of rushing water? The joy of nakedness?

No idea. But because I’m always getting inspired in there, I’m always rushing to the keyboard half-dressed. A towel wrapped hastily around the torso (only women can make towels stay there). A pair of sweats pulled on backwards, maybe a robe, possibly a garbage bag.

For better or for worse, I do a lot of my best writing while half naked. The only time this becomes a problem is when I’m so moved by a particularly brilliant piece of writing, I rush outside to tell the world about it. 🙂

Mark – http://www.marklaflamme.com/

Loretta Wheeler, writes under the name of L. Reveaux

Well, let’s see, the fabulous Mz. Dravis has asked me what I’m wearing. That made me blink. 🙂 Never expected that of her. Needless to say, there’s a LOL intended after that remark!

Today, I’m wearing a type of lounge pajamas. They’re actually presentable … something that I can wear and take a stroll out onto the deck in, and not worry about the neighbor’s if they happen to peer over the wall.

That’s an improvement from my other PJ days. On those days I have on my most comfortable PJs, the one’s that yell SEE! SHE’S NOT DRESSED YET! And they wouldn’t be complete without my big fuzzy slippers, if it’s winter.

Once in awhile I’m dressed, but I have to confess, if I know it’s going to be a writing day, I stay in my PJ’s. I’ve written this way for so long, I don’t think my Muse would recognize me without them. That’s as good an excuse as any to stay in them, don’t ya think? 🙂

Loretta – http://www.lorettawheeler.com/

www.LReveaux.com

http://tinyurl.com/4nkgk7a

Tony Tarantino, actor, director, screenwriter, composer

My answer may be very dull and boring to your readers but here goes.

Whether I’m writing a screenplay a music score or just practicing my guitar, comfort is the most important thing to me. This also goes for my workouts, whether it be walking or pushing iron.

I always in each of these situations wear sweats…100% cotton sweats. I love the feel of cotton against my skin. I have about twelve pairs of them. At home you would find me in them about ninety percent of the time. I wear one size larger then I am because I like them loose to give me more freedom of movement, plus they keep me warm.

Up here at the altitude I’m at it’s much colder then down in LA.

Ciao – Tony – http://www.tonytarantino.com/

Daniel L. Carter, author/actor/musician

This is an intriguing question Betty. Since I’m a writer, actor and musician I shall give you three answers.

When writing I am a casual guy. I like sweat pants, loose t-shirt, soft socks (no shoes or sneakers) and my headset for listening to my instrumental music to help get me in the right frame of mind for writing which also blocks out distractions.

For learning my lines as an actor it always helps to be in character. So whatever the character would be wearing is what I would try to simulate if possible. For instance, I played Herod the King, so a toga, sandals, golden staff and a metal crown my wife made… Still have that crown. 🙂

For writing or playing music I am usually casual, as well, but for some reason I need to be more dressy. Pants (no jeans), business casual shirt and shoes this time. Weird I know, but there you have it.

Blessings, Dan – http://www.theunwantedtrilogy.com

Susan Kennington, actress, screenwriter, director

Here’s my contribution. What a fun idea.

My best thoughts come to me when I am around water, and also late at night. Running by the massive power and energy of the ocean brings incredible insight and new ideas to my mind, which I quickly write down when I’m back in my car and later transcribe on my computer.

Music also does the same thing. It inspires me in every location, but, it comes to me most often when I am around moving water. (Often in the shower, but you can save that info just for us.) 🙂

I’m usually in comfortable workout clothes -shorts, a tank top and running shoes, and at night, a silky nightie and a fluffy soft robe.

Thanks for including me, Betty. Can’t wait to read about everyone else!

Love Always – Susan – facebook.com/susan.kennington

Wendy Dingwall, author, president/publisher

Canterbury House Publishing


I’ve been known to write in my P.J.’s, especially when I wake up in the middle of the night, or mornings when I’d rather write than put on my work clothes. Mostly, I wear jeans with either t-shirts, or turtle necks and a sweater, because it gets cold here in the North Carolina Mountains.

I also write while traveling, so I might be dressed for conferences, book fairs, even dinner out. Since I have a day job and my writing time is limited, I could be found wearing just about anything as I steal the time to write anywhere I can.

Wendy – facebook.com/wendy.dingwall

http://www.canterburyhousepublishing.com/

Susan Alcott Jardine, author, artist, screenwriter

When Betty Dravis posed the question, my thoughts rushed to “The Red Carpet.”  But, I soon came back to earth and out of my fantasy.  Obviously, I wouldn’t be wearing Prada while working on a writing project.  Too bad.

The question also piqued my memory, flooding my mind with visual images of time, place and action.  During the 70’s, while in the WGA “Open Door Writing Program,” my writing partner Marc Havoc and I were collaborating on a screenplay.  We would get out and scour parts of  L.A., tracing where the lead characters would interact.  For these forays, I usually was wearing jeans and tees.

We would often end up at the old Farmers’ Market on Third and Fairfax, with yellow pads in hand, making notes and people watching.  Since the title of the screenplay was “Lullabyeland,” one day we ended up going to Forest Lawn Cemetery to see the real “Lullabyeland” where the children were buried.  The opening and closing of the story takes place there.  For “Lullabyeland” we were honored to receive the WGA Foundation Award, and I remember wearing a pink pantsuit for the daytime festivities.

Again, during the same time frame, Marc and I were also working on a play based on fictional question, what if Tennessee Williams and Carson McCullers had actually lived together while working on a play and novel?  For this project, we booked time at the Actors Studio West and literally wrote and blocked out the scenes on their stage.  Sometimes, I wore the obligatory jeans and tees and other times, a long hippie rehearsal skirt.  The two main characters, shared a small room above a Southern bordello during the 1930’s.  And, all of their characters came to life and interacted with them. We were able to see a workshop presentation of “Another Waltz For Miss Teaporten,” with studio actors playing Buddy’s and Morgan’s  characters in the play and novel within the play.

Another memory comes to mind.  When working on a poetry collection, I was stuck on a poem entitled, “1,000 Days.”  I just couldn’t get a hook on it and the idea churned around in my head for several months.  Then, one morning while getting ready for work, the entire piece just poured out.  I jumped out of the shower and literally took dictation on a yellow legal pad, as “1,000 Days wrote itself.  I was wearing a bath towel.

I’ve written while wearing a bathing suit at my apartment pool on Beachwood Drive in Hollywood. The pool was in the back of the complex and surrounded by a block wall.   I loved to write on a yellow pad and was working on the beginning of a screenplay” Do You Know Marcus Hanley.”  The still afternoon was pierced by the sound of young boys, about ten or twelve years old, having a heated debate in the building courtyard next door. I couldn’t see them because of the block wall, but found their repartee so serious and passionate.  Ah-ha! This gave me the idea for the opening, and the three anonymous neighbor boys became the basis for the young boys in the screenplay who act as a Greek Chorus throughout the piece.

During the years, I’ve written in many places, from coffee shops to doctors’ office waiting rooms, on my kitchen table, in a hall closet (turned writer’s room) and never once was I wearing Prada.  🙂

Susan Alcott Jardine – http://www.GreenDoorEditions.com

Kasia Sienkowska, fashion designer, Amazon top reviewer

Ironically enough, before I worked in fashion design I wore a lot of heels. These days you will mostly catch me in Puma’s (sneakers) and flip-flops in the summer or ballet slippers mostly paired with jeans. Comfort is key when I’m doing fittings, fabric shopping and setting up art prints for factories to follow; there is no time for silly dresses although I wish I could dress up like Coco Chanel for work. My work is busy and hectic, it’ not playing with fabrics all day long, there is a lot of math and intricate details that I have to be on top of, so comfort is more important than a super chic outfit that I will be tugging on all day, distracting me.

I love tanks and tee-shirts and loose-fitting layered tops in the spring for that wind to breeze through my and give me a lift on my way to work. I love bundling up in soft and cozy sweaters in the winter and fall; I always have a cropped shrug hanging on my chair for when the AC decides to turn into arctic wind. And I love casual, but with a clean and fresh feeling. It represents me the most accurately at the moment.

At home it’s a whole different story. Most of the time I’m in pajamas and I have a huge collection of silly colors and patterns; no jeans or socks when I’m reading on the couch!

Thanks, Betty, for including me. I am dying to read what the others say.

Kasia Sienkowska: http://www.facebook.com/betty.dravis#!/profile.php?id=731142277&sk=wall

 


 

by Betty Dravis

Deous - Dark Reflection

Betty Dravis: Hi, Deous. It’s great to see you today. I’m delighted that you took time from your busy job with Area 51 Productions to be with us. Chrissy McVay, author of Soul of the North Wind, recommended you highly. When she told me about your concept for Area 51 Productions, it blew my mind. No one that I know has endeavored to create movies in the same way that you envision. But before we get into that worthy project–since you are not only a film-maker, but also an actor, singer and dancer–tell us a little about your childhood.

I read that you started acting in 1983 at age nine with the Riverside Children’s Theatre in California. My readers are always interested in how artists get started, so how did you first become interested in entertaining? Did your parents push you or was it your own desire?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Thank you, Betty. It’s great to finally be here with you. How did I get started? My parents were both hugely artistic; I grew up around the arts. My mother did plays in New York, just off Broadway, and my father was a musician and a songwriter.

In fourth grade I did a play called How The Grinch Stole Christmas. My teacher, Miss E., thought I should try out, and so I was cast as The Grinch. I absolutely loved the experience. After that, my parents enrolled me in the Riverside Children’s Theatre. The very first play I auditioned for was Alice in Wonderland. I was cast as the White Rabbit. The Children’s Theatre was very much like a weekend school. We had classes on acting, music, and even dance and movement. My love for the arts was set in stone and my parents were, of course, elated.

After we moved to Alaska, I attended school in Nikiski and found they had a dance company led by Phil Morin. It was there I really solidified my appreciation for dance and choreography. Mr. Morin was an incredible teacher and choreographer; my true inspiration for pursuing the dance path.

Fun Memory from the Past – Deous with his sons James, age 5, and Joshua, 9, clowning around on the merry-go-round at the Olympia Lake Fair.

Betty Dravis: Wow, Deous, with such talented parents, it’s natural that you have a grand passion for the entertainment industry. I’m very impressed that you choreographed five musicals and even more ballets by the time you were twenty-one. That’s an astonishing start for one so young. Do you mind sharing the progression of your career and why your family moved to Alaska and other places where you built up an astonishing portfolio?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Sure Betty… After my freshman year in high school my parents, who were now teachers, decided to move to Alaska. My mother believed it was the Last Great Frontier; we had some family friends who moved there and raved about it. I wasn’t excited to leave my whole life (or what I thought was my life) behind. However, as mentioned above, when we landed in Nikiski I was ecstatic to find that artistic outlet to plug into: the Nikiski High School Dance Company.

My parents had developed a new teaching method where they implemented theatre into their curriculum. My father asked me to choreograph the musicals and teach their students. I agreed, on the stipulation that they allot a time solely for dance and allow me to teach dance performance technique.

I don’t think my parents initially realized I planned on teaching anything more complicated than step left, step right. My father and mother kept saying, “I think you’re getting too complicated.” (laughs) But kids are amazing. Unlike adults, if you don’t tell them what they can and can’t do, they will just do it.

Deous teaching stage combat at Pierce College, 2009

The first year and show was when I learned the most. I would set the bar and the students would constantly hit or even surpass my expectations. The hardest part was figuring out what their capabilities were, then setting the bar just out of reach, so they had to stretch themselves. When they hit the goal, I praised them and once again moved the bar just out of reach.

By the third year, it became a game; the kids wanted to see how high Mr. G. (what they called me) could set the bar. Many times I worried they might not be able to hit the goal, but every single time, they succeeded! The very last show I choreographed was a stage adaptation of Walt Disney’s musical Newsies, with extremely complicated dance numbers. The kids tossed newspapers and dove into a roll to catch them. The timing had to be perfect. They did a beautiful job.

When I started attending Kenai Peninsula College (KPC), I discovered Chris Morin (Phil Morin’s wife) was both a professor and the director of the KPC Dance Company, so I got a double-dose of her. Chris was awesome!  She picked up where her husband left off as I continued to train and work on my technique.

Later, I moved to Anchorage and made it into the University of Alaska Anchorage (UAA) Dance Repertory and the Alaska Dance Theatre Company. There I focused on Ballet, Modern Haitian and Jazz, as well as method acting. After that I moved to London for a year and started auditioning for shows. I loved London!

Betty Dravis: You continue to amaze me, Deous. Your choreography credits are awesome. Here are a few shows you’ve choreographed: Annie, Pirates Of Penzance, West Side Story, Wizard of Oz, Oliver, three modern ballets: Legend, Both Sides Of The Story, Redemption, and even a stage production of Walt Disney’s Newsies, as you mentioned above.

That’s a broad array of popular shows, Deous, and if any of our readers would like the entire list, they can visit your Internet Movie Database link (at end of this interview). Do you have a favorite production or one that made an immense impression on you and possibly changed your life?

Deous acts out a scene from "Silence of the Lambs" in a Script and Character Analysis session of "Copy the Pros."

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Yes, Betty, I do, actually. While I was studying at Duke, I fell in love with the Pilobolus Dance style. The idea of weight-sharing and partnership that Pilobolus employs was intriguing not only as choreography, but life in general. Life is about a give and take and creating those momentary pictures. We come together, we share and then move on to our next picture, where we repeat the process.

It’s exactly what we are doing in this interview. You and I share ideas, which will be shared in various media, and when your readers read our ideas, it will, in some way, affect them. Hopefully, in a positive way… This is what Pilobolus is all about: the sharing between two bodies as they move though space. I wish everyone would employ this in their daily lives.

Betty Dravis: That’s spot on, Deous, and sounds rather spiritual… But in addition to dance, you’re also an actor and singer. I understand you’ve performed the roles of Tony from West Side Story and The Lizard Man in Side Show. Were those live stage productions? Where did you perform?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: I performed those roles in community theatres in Kenai and Anchorage. I love musicals and because we love the Art so much, my wonderful wife Jackie and some friends privately recorded multiple songs. These include “The Confrontation” and ”This is the Moment” from Jekyll and Hyde, “Where’s the Girl” and “Into the Fire” from Scarlet Pimpernel, “Sunset Boulevard” from Sunset Boulevard. My wife and I also recorded the duet “You are my Home.”

Cast and crew of "Zombie's Life - Doron of the Dead" by Déous Gennari

Betty Dravis: You’re what I call an all-around performer, Deous. I know you’re not a vain man, but I think I would become vain if I could do half of what you do. (laughs)

But something I’m curious about: How did a man with your talents end up spending twelve years in the military? That’s quite a detour from your entertainment career.

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, Betty… What do I say? (laughs) Life happened. Up to that point I had been active with the National Guard for seven years. After my first Honorable Discharge I decided to return to theatre; that’s when I went to London (partially to escape the memories from the military and part to try to pick up the pieces of my theatre career).

After a year in London, I returned to the States and brought a young lady back with me. Soon after that, we got married and shortly thereafter, she became pregnant, so I had to evaluate the importance of stability for my family. As a result, I joined the Active Duty Army and returned to the medical field. Two years after my son was born, my wife and I divorced. After I was granted custody of my son, he and I started to rebuild our lives again.

I remarried and was deployed to Operation Enduring Freedom. As fate would have it, about six months after getting back I found myself going through another divorce. This time I was completely in the dark and never learned why. She just decided she was leaving, I guess. My son was totally devastated.

After seeing how the divorce affected my son, I decided I wasn’t ever going to remarry or engage in a serious relationship again. I never wanted to be divorced once, let alone twice. There is nothing more crushing than the feeling of losing your family, especially after trying everything you can think of to try and save it. It was then I realized sometimes there is absolutely nothing you can do; sometimes it doesn’t have anything to do with you at all. I realize for many people out there this may not make a lot of sense. Relationships are two-way streets and when one person decides to quit there is nothing the other can do to change that.

I was honorably discharged in November 2005. It took some time, but I finally did remarry. This time I believe I finally found my soul-mate. Jackie is incredible and my best friend. She and I support each other, our endeavors, our children and our dreams. She is my inspiration and my voice of reason.

Betty Dravis: I agree that divorce is devastating, especially when children are involved. I’m glad it worked out for you and you finally found your Jackie. I wish you and your family much happiness and good fortune.

The fates must have conspired with you to keep you in the entertainment industry, Deous. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that you met Ken Dietiker while stationed at Fort Lewis. Since you both enjoy film creation and the arts, did you guys work together after your discharge? And when did you decide to concentrate on the directing/producing end of the business?

Creative Director Ken Dietiker and Deous - Brainstorming Session

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Ken and I lived right next to each other. We wound up spending a lot of time discussing film and movie projects we wanted to see completed. After getting out of the military, I returned to school and decided I wanted to start a film production company. Ken is one of the creative directors (and trouble-shooters) for Area 51 Productions.

Betty Dravis: I’m glad to hear that you and Ken are still working together. Good, loyal, like-minded friends are hard to find.

For a man who made his mark in choreography and the military, Deous, you somehow managed to accumulate six years of college at Kenai Peninsula College, University of Alaska Anchorage, Duke University and Pierce College in Washington State where you now reside. You must be brilliant because in 2009 you made the President’s List holding a GPA of 3.9-4.0, became an Alumni of Phi Theta Kappa and have been published in the Cambridge Who’s Who of Business. Is Pierce College where your deep interest in the academic life began to blend with your love of film?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: I don’t know if I’d call myself “brilliant,” but like my father once said, “There is only one difference between genius and insanity–perspective.” (laughs) Then again, if I had to give a starting point to where the two began to blend, it would definitely be Pierce College. That’s where the inspiration to start Area 51 Productions was born. I was working on a project and realized to complete it properly I would need some money, so I decided to write a business grant and start Area 51 Productions.

Betty Dravis: Before we discuss more about Area 51, let me back-up for a minute. You mentioned your family above, but I’m curious about how you and Jackie met. As everyone knows by now, my readers and I are a bit romantically inclined. (laughs)

Deous's Wife Jackie

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: When Jackie and I met we had both been in bad relationships and definitely didn’t want to go down that road again. I’ll tell you how we met, but you can’t laugh. Well, maybe you can chuckle a little. (laughs) I had a friend who talked about this website called E-Harmony. Of course I laughed hysterically and even mocked him because I thought all dating sites were just a waste of time. He swore it was different and explained they had some kind of profiling exam. I laughed even harder. Anyway, finally I decided it couldn’t hurt and I could always tease my friend later.

Jackie and I almost instantly popped up on each other’s profile. We had all the same interests and even similar backgrounds since I had been a medic and she a phlebotomist (a legal Vampire, someone who draws blood). We both also had a background in music and loved the arts. Most importantly we both seriously wanted a family and someone to grow old with. Jackie had a son named James from a previous relationship and I had my son Josh.

We dated for a while before introducing our children into the mix. Jackie and I fell in love and we have been together ever since. We now have another son, Jaron, and our cross-over to the dark side was complete. (laughs) Just kidding… They’re wonderful kids. Jackie and I dubbed our family Sector J-5, since everyone’s name starts with a J. All our kids love Transformers and so we stole the idea from Sector 7.

As far as the business is concerned, Jackie is one of my associate producers and the creative mind behind many of our projects. She is also one of the first to read and edit the scripts. As for the boys, Josh is in a Zombie film I’m working on and James just debuted in a horror concept film called Clown, directed & written by Bill Read.

Family is always a challenge to juggle with our lives and careers, but we are committed to family first. I have incorporated this into my company philosophy: when I schedule shoots I also leave room for my staff to spend time with their family. I decided long ago I never want to cause another family to fall apart. My studio is set up to be a family-friendly environment.

Betty Dravis: Well, Deous, I have the same reaction when I see those E-Harmony ads on TV today. But now I know it can work, so I’ll try not to laugh in future. As for you, a man who puts family first can’t be all bad. (laughs) I got a chuckle out of Jackie being a “vamp.” My daughter Mary Lee was a phlebotomist for a while too. Jackie might get a kick from this, but when a woman asked her what that was, she jokingly said, “A brain surgeon.” We couldn’t believe the woman believed her.

Another of your outstanding humanitarian traits, Deous, is that you have an incredible passion for uplifting and encouraging people. I read in your bio that this passion was sparked by studying great leaders such as John C. Maxwell, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Patrick Daugherty. Tell us how they inspired you. I would also like to know if you have personal mentors that inspired you to great things.

R. J. Gennari, Exec. Producer/Exec. Director/Co-founder of Area 51 Productions

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well Betty, John C. Maxwell is a motivational speaker and teaches thousands of executives how to change their thought process from negative to positive. I met him once and his personality was infectious. Patrick Daugherty was a professor from Pierce College who encouraged and pushed me on the road I’m on now. I’ll discuss George Lucas and Steven Spielberg later.

I have always believed it is important to have mentors in our lives. My father is at the top of the list. He inspired all the research for our current project and helped found Area 51 Productions. Whenever I have a question about a problem or situation, he is the first person I call.

Others would be Elizabeth Sierra-Arruffatt and Jeff Silverman. Elizabeth is the Area 51 senior photographer and has been with me from the inception. She’s also one of the first people I call to discuss an idea for feedback. She is always a positive inspiration to me and everything we are trying to accomplish. Jeff is our I.T. manager. The great thing about him is he is a very technical and logical guy. Whenever I am in a dilemma, I know I can always call Jeff and never worry about getting bashed. He always gives me a straight-up answer about why he thinks I should or shouldn’t handle something a certain way. His answers are always logical and basically unarguable. This is great for me because I am very much a person to try to look at things from every possible angle.

Another would have to be Diane Matson. I cast her as one of my leading actresses, but I soon found I wanted her production input and guidance. She is also one of my lead script editors for the We Were Vampire franchise (as well as this interview). I respected her input and friendship so much I offered her a co-ownership in one of our current franchise projects AWL.

Chrissy K. McVay, Author of "Souls of the North Wind"

Last, but surely not least, is your friend and mine, Chrissy K. McVay. When I first started writing my novel, I knew I needed someone who had done what I was trying to do in order to accomplish it. I knew nothing except how to tell a story. I sought out Chrissy with the sole intention of earning her trust and respect, hoping she’d be willing to guide me. It worked! (laughs) Chrissy also become a highly-respected friend. When she speaks, I listen in complete silence, just absorbing. She not only inspired me, but also provided encouragement every step of the way. I cannot say “Thank you!” enough. So hugs to you, Chrissy! You’re awesome!

Betty Dravis: Oh, I agree with you about Chrissy—she’s not only a fine writer, she’s very knowledgeable and a great person to have in one’s corner. In fact, she’s the one who recommended that Chase Von interview me for Student Operated Press. We put our heads together and decided to jointly publish our celebrity interviews in the first Dream Reachers book. And now we’re working on a second in the series (which is where this interview will be published in print form). I owe Chrissy big hugs too. (laughs)

Now for the big news—AREA 51 Productions! I’ve heard such positive things about your special program that I’m dying to know all about it. Deous, this seems like a natural progression and a perfect way for you to celebrate all your accumulated achievements in one huge project to benefit many people. I sense that this is the biggest dream of your life, so please tell us all about it: Exactly what is it? Where did you get the idea? And how does your plan differ from what others in film are doing?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: First, you are absolutely right! It is the biggest dream of my life and, of course, a huge undertaking. I founded Area 51 Productions back in the beginning of 2009. I wanted to establish the largest studio in Washington which could also give a wide array of jobs to unemployed artists and production people. The goal was to establish a company where writers and story creators have active voices alongside the director of the films. So often, stories are ruined because the “Powers That Be” don’t consider the story the writer initially envisioned. So I wanted to make the writers and creators an active part of the film-making process.

We also plan to have positions available for students, perhaps with scholarships or as interns.  It’s so hard for students to go from graduation to landing a job without any real experience. Area 51 will provide that by assigning them to a department in their area of expertise so they can actually work on a real film project.

So my creative team and I sat down and drew plans for a self-contained, green-friendly studio. The building houses many different departments, including an art studio, sound studio, CGI, special effects, and even a small movie theatre to view the final mix before the project is wrapped and packaged for distribution.

Our goal is to create a creative environment where directors, producers and crew can have all the major elements right at their fingertips. Then I sat down, wrote up a business plan and decided to apply for a Federal Business Grant to pay for start-up costs.

Auditions

Betty Dravis: With so many people obsessed with breaking into the movie business, this program sounds ideal for helping larger numbers of them. Just where are you currently with Area 51, Deous?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, Betty, when the economy crashed, all the grant money disappeared (to bail out all the car and bank companies), so the startup companies (trying to help stabilize the economy) were left hanging.  While working to acquire funding for the studio, we pooled our resources and started production on a few film projects. My staff has been very patient with the process. I can’t thank them enough for all their support. Now we are looking for investors or financial backing for the company. This dream is so big it will take many more people to accomplish it.

Betty Dravis: The economy has devastated and derailed millions of people, Deous, but with so many loyal people determined to work with you to make it happen, it can’t fail.

I’ve heard a lot about one of your productions, We Were Vampire. Tell us about that and other films you might have made. I also saw a poster for Art of the Sacred. Is that another project of Area 51?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: We Were Vampire started in 2009 with a novel I conceptualized and wrote called The Sacred. After I wrote the initial 274-page manuscript, I handed it off to Jenn and Jesse Jefferis, who helped shape the text and also contributed to the story. We Were Vampire was originally a short film to advertise the book by using it as a prop. As I wrote the script, I quickly realized this was actually a modern-day continuation of the story. At that point, my co-writers encouraged me to continue and turn it into a feature.

It is a very unique take on the whole vampire concept. It took Rick Gennari (Co-owner, Area 51 Productions) and me about ten years to research the ancient history linked to The Sacred and We Were Vampire. We Were Vampire is now a film trilogy and a continuation of The Sacred novel trilogy, which combined, is called The Sacred Vampire Saga. This franchise has become at least as large as Lord of the Rings. We are now starting the pre-production process by filming webisodes to help advertise this project online.

I have also been working on publishing the first novel in The Sacred trilogy, Genesis of the Forsaken. The book is nearly ready for a final edit and should get published this year. I am so excited about the books and can’t wait to see what the public thinks. All the reviews so far have been excellent–and that was in its rough format.

In addition to everything else, I have also been collecting illustrations for the trilogy. Eventually, these will be published in a separate book, The Art of The Sacred, with all profits going to the illustrators.

Betty Dravis: Books! Now you’re talking something I understand, Deous. (laughs) I’m excited for you—the films and the books. Since you’re such a dynamo—acting, singing, dancing, directing, producing, writing—that probably keeps you in shape without the need for much exercise, but I’m curious… You appear very agile in all your photos, so what is your secret for good health and vigor?

Illustrations for "Art of the Sacred" will be published in book form.

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, as you can tell, I keep myself extremely busy between business, writing, directing and family. Eating healthy is always a challenge. The important thing is not necessarily to eat three times a day but throughout the day instead. The biggest meal of the day should be breakfast and lunch, not dinner. Keep each snack-meal small enough to curb your hunger, rather than until you’re full, and you will maintain a much faster metabolism.

Betty Dravis: That’s sensible, Deous; many doctors confirm the wisdom of  “smaller meals, more often.” But what’s a typical day like for you?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: From now until we get the studio built, I work from home, which is great because I also get to look after my three-year-old. So a normal day for me… Well, what is normal? (laughs) Jackie and I get up between six-thirty and seven a.m. and I make us both a latté. Usually, that is a fancy name for an overpriced coffee, but we have an espresso machine so we can make them inexpensively.

After Jackie is on her way to work, I sit down, check my company emails and respond. If I am in the middle of a writing project, I’ll work on that for an hour or two before making business calls or working on preproduction notes. Somewhere in all of that I’m feeding my son breakfast, or occasionally taking him out for a Danish for some father-son bonding time. Then it’s lunch and making sure my two older boys get their homework done before making dinner. After the kids are in bed, I settle in for another couple hours of either writing or video editing. That’s probably as close to an exact schedule as I can get. Things change sometimes, so I just adapt to situations and go with it. It’s the number one lesson I learned from the military–adapt!

Betty Dravis: That seems like a comfortable, productive schedule, Deous. One more question about your great state of Washington: Does Washington have a film festival? I, for one, would love to see an Area 51 Film Festival that features only movies produced by you, your staff and the school students. Is that a practical dream for the near or distant future?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: I’m glad you mentioned that because an Area 51 Film Festival is completely practical. We are working on a program called the NW (North West) Local Film Production Support Program. The program creators are Ken Dietiker, Rick Gennari and me. This program offers filmmakers up to $50,000 from in-house grant money to produce projects which will be shown at the Festival. Both the festival audience and the Area 51 Production staff will vote on their favorite films. The winners will be submitted to other festivals around the world at our expense. Right now, the program is set to house twenty films. Of course, as we grow, the festival will then have the ability to expand as well.

Betty Dravis: I’m pleased to hear that; sounds like your plans are all-inclusive.

Since you’re actually living your dream by doing what you enjoy doing most, what advice can you offer to others who aspire to be in any part of the movie industry?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, first, establish a good, reliable work habit. Second, for anyone who aspires to do anything great, the greatest advice I could give is never give up; it’s the difference between failure and success.

Case in point: Thomas Edison was once asked why he didn’t give up and why he was willing to fail over 10,000 times while trying to create the light bulb. Many people called him crazy and laughed at him. His response was, “I didn’t fail 10,000 times. I simply found 10,000 ways it wouldn’t work.” So remember, failure is never final or certain until you quit.

Betty Dravis: Good advice, Deous! I haven’t heard that story about Edison, but have heard some inspiring ones about Henry Ford. (laughs)

Now since show business, like real life, is made up of both drama and humor, I’m sure you’ve had some embarrassing moments during your long career. Please share one of those funny things with us.

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, Jackie’s friend Lynn, her son Michael and I were all joking around one day. Just for fun, Michael and I were trying to one-up each other. He said something about the English language and, of course, going for the instant kill I said something like, “Well, it’s a good thing the English language has twenty-seven letters in the alphabet then, huh?” Instantly, everyone in the car got quiet and stared at me. “What?” I asked.

Everyone broke out laughing and Michael said, “You mean twenty-six.”

Trying to cover my mistake, I responded “That’s what I said.” Of course we all knew that was absolutely not the case. Anyway, to this day Michael calls me “Mr. 27.”

Betty Dravis: That sounds like something I would do, Deous, so I empathize with you. Yeah… right! (laughs)

If you were given the chance to spend an entire day with one famous movie director or producer who would you choose and why?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Great question! That would have to be Mr. George Lucas. I’m so glad I can finally tell you why he is so important, as a mentor to me. I’ve studied his career as a director and producer all my life. His is the perfect rags-to-riches story for anyone who wants to be a filmmaker. He wrote a huge Galactic Opus and went through so many struggles just to see the first film completed. When making his next film, his struggles only intensified because he dropped out of several guilds due to their unfair politics. Still he endured. By his third Star Wars film, Return of the Jedi, he’d lost his wife through a divorce. Yet he didn’t quit. Now he is one of the most respected directors of all indie film directors.

While I was setting the foundation for Area 51, I looked at Lucasfilm Ltd. as a model. Although we have never met, I have the utmost respect for him. I would definitely hang out with him for a day, just so I could learn more from him.

Betty Dravis: I wouldn’t mind that myself, Deous. He’s quite the man! But now, since the world is in such chaos at present, if you could influence any one thing in the world, what would you choose to change and why?

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: I wish people would listen to each other more. We have two eyes, two ears and one mouth. That’s twice as many types of input as output. If we would take that to heart and really listen to one another there would be far less anger in this world. This answer is simple and short, but please think about it…

Betty Dravis: I have often had the same idealistic thought and feel that the difference in backgrounds and experiences is what keeps that from happening, but that’s food for much thought.

Most artists receive a vast array of kudos throughout their careers. One of my personal favorites is from a book review written by a woman whose long-awaited trip to Russia was interrupted because her husband had a heart attack. She wrote that while he was in surgery she read one of my books, Millennium Babe: The Prophecy, and it took her mind off what was going on inside the operating room, thus sparing her a great deal of stress. Needless to say, learning that my book had helped her in such a special way made me happy. Can you think of one example of a compliment that really made your day? Whatever you wish to share…

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: The best compliments I ever received were from the Area 51 Production core staff members who came alongside me throughout this process and didn’t quit. They helped encourage and guide me while remaining steadfast. This is incredible to me because the journey hasn’t always been easy. Like any company, we get our share of knocks, bumps and bruises, but nothing fazes them. My staff helps keep everything on course and don’t get hung up on the insignificant stuff, so I would like to thank them publicly: Thanks so much to Jenn and Jesse Jefferis, Ken Dietiker, Christopher Hoard, Jackie Gennari, Jeff Silverman, Raemenn Jewall, Elizabeth Sierra-Arruffatt, Richard James Gennari, Dannie Baldwin, Mark Rosenwald and Diane Matson.

The Core Staff of Area 51 Productions

Betty Dravis: That’s incredible, Deous, and says a lot about them, about you and about the entire concept of Area 51… Loyalty is a divine thing, in my opinion. Now before we finish, I’d like to offer you the chance to discuss anything of importance that I may have missed.

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Well, I just wanted to let everyone know that there are several ways to get involved or become familiar with this exciting project. As I mentioned earlier, we have been working on putting the funding together for the first film, We Were Vampire, and are looking for investors. For anyone who is interested, you can go to the We Were Vampire – Web Series & Feature Film Project on www.kickstarter.com.

You can also go to Amazonstudios.com and leave a review for the script and story. We Were Vampire is ranked sixth out of 497 projects in the Action Adventure category. We would love to hear your input, so please feel free to do that as well.

For more info about this project you can also visit www.wewerevampire.com We are very proud of this project and the entire The Sacred Vampire Saga. It is going to be like nothing anyone has ever seen before.

Betty Dravis: I wish you and your staff “God Speed” in raising funding for this very necessary, exciting project, Deous. Any saga cut from the same cloth as the legendary LOTR is sure to be magnificent. I read a portion of one of the scripts and I’m overwhelmed by the entire concept. This is one I’m on pins and needles to view.

I’m reluctant to leave you because your projects are all so exciting, but all good things must come to an end. Please keep us in the loop because we’re eager to see this promising saga on the big screen. I hope it’s soon.

Meanwhile, your fans can visit your various websites for more information:

Area 51 Productions – www.area51productionsllc.com

We Were Vampire – www.wewerevampire.com

Kickstarter.com – www.kickstarter.com

Amazon Studios – www.amazonstudios.com

IMDB Resume – www.imdb.com/name/nm3926980/resume

Facebook – www.facebook.com/area51productions

Well, that’s it for now, Deous. I’ve enjoyed visiting with you. It’s been enlightening to learn about Area 51 and your plans for the future. We all wish you best of luck, and once again I’d like to congratulate you for your innovative idea that will help more people fulfill their dreams. Thanks for visiting with us and sharing your life…your dreams.

Joshua “Déous” Gennari: Thank you, Betty I have enjoyed being here. Of course I will send you updates, photos, and will keep you posted on Area 51 Productions. Thanks so much for interviewing me.  Feel free to contact me anytime.

Self-portrait by K. Michael Crawford

I can’t believe the day is finally here. After months of keeping my head to the grindstone to finish my latest book, I am getting a vacation.  So now, I can gather up my finest vacation wear and head out the door for a little fun in the sun or maybe a Shirley Temple on the beach. Wherever this vacation goes, I will follow.

Before I head out the door, I know that every good vacation needs the essentials. So, with first things first, I forge through my closet to make sure I have the perfect vacation clothing. You have to look just right, part “world traveler” and part “oh yeah, I don’t stand out too much and look like an idiot.” To select the right look, I put on a slightly wrinkled top with comfortable wrinkled pants. Next, comfortable sneakers are always my choice of shoes for getting away from it all. Besides being great for walking, they are great with the “airline only lets me have one bag now” look.  The last thing I do, as far as my appearance goes, is put my hair up for easy maneuvering through new and exotic places.

Now, for the add-ons. Everyone knows that you need a big wamping camera to announce to the locals, “Come and get me. I am just waiting to be mugged.” So I place my Hubble Telescope camera around my neck, followed by a straw hat large enough to house a small family. The hat is also used to shield any type of ray from the sun two universes over and prevent any orbiting satellites from identifying that it’s me in the photo.

Any good tourist knows what goes in their backpack or satchel is the most important element to enjoying that fun-filled vacation. You never know what you will stumble upon, so you want to be prepared for the unexpected, or in my case most of the time, the unexplained.  The first thing to go into my pack is food and water. Although, I always wind up eating at some delightful and fun places, I like to be prepared in case I become stuck on some back road or an airport runway for ten hours. As you may know, it is illegal to depart a waiting plane to hit McDee’s, even if you’re the flight attendant.

Next, I throw my sketchbook and pencils into the backpack so that I am prepared to draw funny pictures of the people sitting around me– in case my travel plans surround me with the best characters I have ever seen.  Then, I throw in a few paper towels in case of spills or “sleeping slobber” from the tourist next to me. A ten-gallon container of hand-sanitizer for those Johnny’s on the spots or I-haven’t-been-cleaned-since-the-Nixon-Administration gas stations. I also include a box of tissues, a cell phone with 52 apps, video games, a book, band-aids, everything from my medicine cabinet and a partridge in a pear tree. The last thing I do is I make sure I haven’t missed anything. I don’t know why they put a restriction on how much you can carry on a plane nowadays. Don’t they know you will need all that stuff, especially if you crash on an island like the cast of “Lost”?

I’m packed and all ready to head out the door for a vacation in my own town. Yes, you hear me correctly. I am going to be a “touri” (what I call a tourist) in my own town for the day. You can’t imagine all the wonderful things there are to see within a 30-minute radius of your own front door. I can hear you now, “Well that’s easy for you to say. There are lots of things to see and do where you live.” I believe that wherever you live there are tons of things to see, even if it’s just revisiting the nature in your own backyard. If you haven’t trimmed the grass in a while, then there is going to be a lot more nature to see.

One of my favorite places to visit on a one-day vacation is hysterical (better known to you as historical) Ellicott City, Maryland. The city has quite a shady past and dates back to 1772 when John, Andrew and Joseph Ellicott founded the mill town. So the town has lots of whimsical characters roaming the streets, some of them living and some not. I have to admit what I like most about the town is its seedy past and ghost stories. For example, a few years ago, a restaurant owner mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. My imagination goes into overload with that bit of information– he took up with pirates and is now raiding cruise ships for their delicious pastries and margarita bars.

Can you think of a better way to keep your imagination active when you visit somewhere familiar and look for new things in a place that’s as old as the hills?

Ellicott City is also a place that changes on a daily basis, whether it’s a mysterious person building cairns in the river or a new shop opening up. It’s a place that reminds me to always look at life as if I am seeing it for the first time and that’s important for the author/artist side of me. Never mind the fact that it’s the only place in the area I can get Chocolate Baby Candies.

So, I will keep taking my mini-vacations or holidays, just to see where they will take my imagination and me. I am thankful there is no need for me to put my tray table and seat in their upright positions, for I am always ready for “take off” in my own town.

NOTE FROM BETTY DRAVIS: K. Michael Crawford is the creator and mastermind behind the first-of-their-kind adventure drawing books, The Mystery of Journeys Crowne, The Island of Zadu and Batty Malgoony’s Mystic Carnivale. K. Michael has illustrated over thirty books and won a number of awards in the magical journey of Children’s Books. To learn more, visit http://www.happilyeverart.com. Happy Adventures!

by Betty Dravis

K. Michael Crawford self-portrait

Betty Dravis: Good day, K. Michael Crawford, thanks for visiting Dames of Dialogue. It’s great having a visit from the famous, award-winning children’s book author and illustrator of a certain classic that is beloved around the world. We can’t divulge all our secrets up front, so we’ll talk about that famous book later.

You come highly recommended by a publisher friend because you are tops in your field. I know you’re in hot demand and have many projects in the works, so it’s kind of you to squeeze us in.

I’ve seen many of your illustrations and you’re the most creative illustrator I’ve seen to date, and I’ve been around a long, long time. (laughs) Just browsing through your website is like a trip to some wondrous fantasyland filled with the most colorful, charming characters… Creating such original characters must be a labor of love. I bet you have more fun than a child at Disneyland. I recommend that all our readers visit your website for a real treat. They will be awed, I’m sure. The link is: www.happilyeverart.com/

K.M., it’s a good thing God gave me a talent for writing, since I can’t draw as well as a kindergartener. I’m wondering if you have always had this amazing talent. Can you tell us a little about your childhood? Did you start then…or were you a late bloomer?

K. Michael Crawford: Well, Betty, my childhood, as well as my life, has been very quirky to say the least. You might even say enchanted. I have had the most magical things happen to me over the years and been surrounded by the most waggish people all my life. I discovered at a young age that I could put some of those quirky adventures and people down on paper and call it art. With my imagination, this job is perfect for me, full of enchantment and magic. Plus, I can sometimes go to work in my pajamas… Some of my ideas come from my imagination and some, if you can believe, come from my own life.

It also helps that I never grew up. I am just a big kid at heart and love to be silly. I find the humor in everything. At a young age, I was taught to see the magic in life. A magical life is the only way I live my life, otherwise, there is that whole messy thing called “reality,” which I avoid at all costs. Edward Gorey once wrote, “We all create our own reality.” I just prefer mine to be make-believe.

Betty Dravis: Ah-hh, K.M., I may have met my artistic soul-mate; I never grew up, either, and I love being silly… Just as quirky seems to be one of your favorite words, it’s one of mine too. That and funky… I have no idea why. I suppose because they conjure up fun images in my active imagination…

By the way, as a writer, I relate to going to work in pajamas. I often get carried away by my book characters and forget to get dressed. (laughs)

K. Michael Crawford: I love strange words, Betty, and always have. I love words such as inkling, waggish, quirky and tingling. I try to use them as much as I can in my writing and on my answering machine: “Please leave a message and when I have an inkling I will get back to you. Beep!” (childish giggle)

Betty Dravis: Oh, K.M., all the unusual words you use are casting a spell on me; I have to smile when reading your answers to my questions. You are a silly one, but that’s why children everywhere adore you and your work. I also think writers and artists must have fertile imaginations to be good at their craft. Would you believe that my Muse rides a shocking pink Harley, dresses in biker gear–complete with silver studs? She races through my mind, her long, blonde hair trailing two feet behind her as she tosses the most outrageous story ideas my way? (laughs)

But back to you…I read that your first work was with a crayon, K.M… That tells us something about your age at the time, since parents don’t usually give pencils to young children for fear of accidents. Do you remember the subject of your very first drawing and do you still have it? Did your mother post it on your refrigerator with a magnet, as parents do nowadays?

K. Michael Crawford: Ho-ho-ho, Betty. I love your Muse! She sounds quite waggish herself. What silliness is this?

But to answer your question, I don’t ever remember not drawing or using my imagination. Even at a young age, I figured out that every day I could go on a fantastic voyage or a strange adventure just by using my imagination. No batteries, buses or airline tickets required… My parents always gave me creative toys where I had to use my imagination to play with them. To this day, one of my favorite toys is “Incredible Edibles”; they are sort of like Gummy Bears you make yourself. You cook them in this contraption–which will explain my fascination with contraptions –love them–and then you peel them out to eat. They taste horrible, but you have to eat them after you make them. So I would imagine that I was creating some magical potion that could turn you into a toad or a fairy. There goes my mind again off onto something silly. (childish giggle)

I think my mom kept a few of my childhood drawings, but when I was growing up we hung our drawings in our rooms or put them away. Refrigerators were only for keeping stuff to eat and you never left the door open, even if you were just looking for something tasty to snack. You had to figure out what you wanted to eat before you opened the fridge, go in fast, grab it, and then shut the door. Now, if you left the front door open in my house, you were reminded that you didn’t live in a barn; which is funny, because if you left a barn door open, all the animals would get out. Now you know I didn’t grow up in a barn, either. Shucks! That would have been a fun adventure. (childish giggle)

I don’t remember what I liked to draw back then. I have always loved to draw animals, so it was probably animals. Imagine my delight when I realized that you could take parts of different animals to create a mystical creature. We had two family farms where I hung out a lot as a child. By the way, you should never try to ride a dairy cow and if you plan to swing by a rope from the loft and land in a pile of hay, make sure there’s no bees’ nest in the hay. That’s some of the great wisdoms I got as a kid!

My mom kept some of my art from high school and a very funny sketchbook from college, which I have now. When I need a good laugh, I pull them out. No one gets to see them until after I am gone.

Betty Dravis: Oh, making us wait to see the “good” stuff, are you, K.M.? But just where are you planning on going? (laughs) You are cracking me up here… I’ll certainly remember what farm animals not to ride and to look for bees’ nests in any haystack I run across…for sure… (laughs)

By the popularity of your books and illustrations, your fans must be very happy that you did discover using different parts of animals to create those clever characters in your work. It must be very rewarding to see so many of your characters in book form. You create everything from pirates to dragons and I, for one, am enamored with your dragons, especially the purple and pink ones on your website. I can’t help but smile when I see them and all of your charming critters. Where do you get the inspiration for such magical characters?

K. Michael Crawford: Someone once asked me, while looking at some of my artwork, if all the stuff in the painting was in my head. I said, “Yes, that’s the stuff that can come out.” (childish giggle)

Before I explain how I go about creating characters, I need to thank Mr. Foley, my ninth-grade English Teacher, and writer Ray Bradbury for helping me to increase my visual creativity. Mr. Foley used to read us Ray Bradbury’s books, all of them, throughout the year. So while he was reading, I was picturing the whole scene in my head. I tried to thank Mr. Foley, but couldn’t find him. I did get the chance to thank Mr. Bradbury in person. To this day, I still picture the illustrated man and how his skin changed pictures when he told a new story.

So here are the basic steps when I create, but not totally guaranteed. Sometimes, I will see someone that needs to be made into a character.

  1. I see something or someone I like.
  2. I put an idea to what I like.
  3. The idea goes in my brain.
  4. Then I start asking the question, “What if?”
  5. After I mix it up in my brain blender,
  6. I let the idea ride my brain roller coaster. Let the idea get thrown around a bit.
  7. Then I brew it like a wizard’s concoction.
  8. Finally, after the idea has gone through all of the above and if the idea is still good, it comes spitting out on the page as a bright and multicolor image. If it’s a character, I bring it to life.

Sometimes an idea or character goes in and comes out totally backwards. A funny thing is, you can tell when I am about to go into a very creative spell. I start talking backwards. I say whole sentences backwards. It’s pretty funny to hear. It’s also a good way to find out if someone is listening to what I have to say.

Betty Dravis: Your creative process is quite fascinating, K.M. I can just picture your “waggish” face as you work your magic. You are a laugh a minute. (laughs) And I suppose that “What if?” gets the juices flowing for artists and writers. I often use that when working on my own book plots.

I read something about your work that amused me. Someone asked the question: “What do you get when you cross a purple hippo with a bear?” What’s the answer, K. Michael?

K. Michael Crawford: The answer is: K. Michael Crawford’s work! (childish giggle) By the way, I have dressed up as a blue M&M and a cow for Halloween, but I have never been a purple hippo/bear. Oh, maybe this year I will be… But I have seen one, and thank goodness for that. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how to draw one. I have also seen a bucksnort, but that’s a whole other story.

Betty Dravis: That’s a great riddle, K.M.—and the answer is so-ooo you! You have such a variety of wonderfully outrageous characters on your website that I may have seen a purple hippo/bear, but have no idea what a bucksnort is. (My younger brother’s name is Buck and he gives a pretty mean snort, but I don’t suppose you’re referring to him…) Na-aaa, you haven’t even met him… But seriously, you’ll have to share that bucksnort story with us one day; perhaps in a new book.

You certainly have a sharp sense of humor and a joy for life that comes through in your drawings. Each character is so unique; they look happy, boisterous and filled with life. How do you manage that?

K. Michael Crawford: When I create a character, I sort of feel like Dr. Frankenstein because in order to create a good character that everyone will like I have to bring that character to life. I need to give them personality and attitude –what they like and dislike. Everyone has to want to fall in love with that character and if it’s a villain, they really have to hate him. Dramatic music and a spooky laugh as the good doctor throws the switch… Presto, a new character has come to life! I have a wonderful lab in my basement just for that purpose. No visitors allowed, unless you are willing to donate a brain or something. (childish giggle)

Betty Dravis: K.M., I was going to visit you, but now I’ve changed my mind; no spare brains to donate–even if it is for a good cause: children’s laughter! (laughs)

Seriously, it’s refreshing to meet such a highly regarded artist who can call yourself “silly” and attribute your creativity to that side of your nature. In that way you remind me of Steve “The Woz” Wozniak who good-naturedly calls himself a “geek.” Being a long-time resident of Silicon Valley, I was there when he and Steve Jobs created their first Macintosh. As you might know, The Woz is the brilliant techie who actually invented the first user-friendly computer and Jobs is the charismatic super salesman behind their business success. I’ve always admired “The Woz” because none of the fame-and-fortune went to his head. That tells a lot about him, and your attitude is just as humble as his. What else can you tell us about your attitude towards your work?

K. Michael Crawford: That’s an interesting comparison, Betty. I may have met The Woz in my Frankenstein lab once… (childish giggle) But seriously, when my head gets too big and about to float away, a character will sit on me to keep me in line and grounded, somewhat. Family is also good for keeping you grounded. They remind you of all the embarrassing things you did when you were growing up. If that doesn’t keep you grounded, nothing will. My dad had a big influence on my attitude towards my work. He always told me puns and showed me that life is so much better when you are laughing. Never take yourself too serious and always be the first to remind yourself that you are still human.

My art is my art and how I create it seems normal to me. How I look at things also seems normal…until I see the funny look on someone’s face after they have looked at my art. That’s when I realize that the way I see things and the way I think is not normal.

I can look at any garden and see all kinds of magical creatures running through it. Under my bed lives a whole host of characters that will wake me up at night if I haven’t fed them. In my studio, the whimsical beasts tell me when they need to go out. So I don’t think of what I do as work; it’s just who I am. There is a fine line between my art and myself as a normal person–which has become blurred–and I believe that’s the way it should be with any artist.

Betty Dravis: Well, K.M., too much is made of being “normal,” and I agree with you.

In addition to your fabulous art, you also write children’s books. Did you discover your writing ability at about the same time you began to draw? And which do you enjoy most?

K. Michael Crawford: I have always liked to write, Betty, but I first worked on the art side of creating and then started to focus on the writing side. Here is the funny part: I have had four English teachers throw their hands up at me, saying that I would never learn grammar. Okay, I am the first to admit that grammar doesn’t click with me. I don’t think it ever will… I write like I talk; never mind that when I write I switch tense in mid-sentence. But if there is a will, there is a way! So I hired an editor, Andrew, to proof all my work before it goes anywhere. I have also read that Mark Twain had trouble with grammar and his editor worked his/her magic so his stories could be told. So at least I know I am in good company.

Betty Dravis: I would say that Mark Twain is the best company, K.M., and you’re fortunate to have found a good editor.

Where did you receive your formal art training and what age were you when you sold your first book Timbo and the Butterfly?

K. Michael Crawford: I went to the University of Maryland, College Park and got my degree in Advertising Design. As you can see, that degree worked out well. Actually, it has helped me a lot in children’s books. I only worked in the field for eight years and then went into children’s books. But while I was in college a friend of mine, Steve, suggested that we do a book together. I created Timbo as a character first and then Steve wrote the story to go with the character. Timbo will always be special to me, because he was one of my first characters I created for a children’s book.

Actually, we did three books together. They were the first three books I ever illustrated in this career. We published them to give to family and friends and sold some of them in a local bookstore. The Baltimore Sun even did an article about our books. Right then and there I knew I was hooked and wanted to write and illustrate children’s books for the rest of my life.

Another friend keeps telling me that she is going to make millions from selling one of those first books on eBay. I hope she does! (childish giggle)

I also took illustration classes at Otis-Parsons School of Design, Art Center of Design, American Animation Institute and Associates in Art to learn as much as I could about art and how it worked. I am still learning about art and plan to keep learning until I am done with what I don’t know.

Betty Dravis: That’s interesting how Timbo came to fruition; sounds like a good collaboration with Steve. And you took a lot of courses to enhance your natural talent. I admire your drive for more and more knowledge, K. M.

I recently interviewed you for a Dames of Dialogue internet blog wherein I asked the question: How do you celebrate when either finishing or selling a manuscript? Your answer was clever and humorous, capturing some of the essence of who you are. Please share it with us again, if you don’t mind.

K. Michael Crawford: This is how I answered, Betty, and I enjoyed reading other authors answers too: Once upon a time…there was a magical place with lots of magical characters and some strange folks, but not to worry, I just finished my latest book… First, there will be dancing around the drawing table and a big WAAHOO! heard from coast to coast. Maybe some chomping on some M&Ms and then a little more dancing. Then I realize in my silliness I have a new idea for another book. Well, hi-ho, back to work I go, dreaming up a whole new magical place to put between the pages of a book. So the story goes…and all the magical creatures and strange folks lived happily ever after, once their creator got back to work.

Betty Dravis: What an original and fun way to celebrate, K. M. That’s the attitude I’ve come to admire! I can picture you whistling (or perhaps even yodeling) as you dance a jig and chomp on M&Ms while drawing to your heart’s content. (laughs)

Now tell us, K. M., have you written any adult books? But the big question is: How did you get your first big career boost? I’m eager for you to tell our readers what that “career boost” was. It’s very inspiring to me.

K. Michael Crawford: Well, Betty, one night I was sitting in my lab, lost in my own imagination, when a ringing appeared in the dream. Where was it coming from? Who or what was making that ringing sound? Poof! It was the phone beckoning to be answered. It was Ideal Publishing on the line, asking me to illustrate Chicken Little.

You see, I had been sending out postcards to publishers in order to get work as an illustrator. I sent out one postcard, once a month, to two hundred and some publishers for six months before I got that phone call. Ideal Publishing got one of my postcards and gave me a call. It was so exciting! Up to that point, I had only illustrated for Educational Companies, such as World Almanac and Highsmith. Chicken Little was my first big break!

As for writing for adults, it’s a little hard for me to write for adults when I’m so young at heart. But I have been told that adults love my books. So I guess, in a way, I do write for adults, but I still think my talents and imagination are better suited for children’s books.

Betty Dravis: Well, this is one adult who adores your books, K. M., but back to Chicken Little, I know there have been many versions of it through the years. I read that the author is unknown, so what can you tell us about its history?

K. Michael Crawford: I don’t know who created the original story of Chicken Little, but I had such a great time illustrating that book. The publisher let me go “hog wild” on the illustrations and pretty much gave me free rein to do what I wanted. So when I started to draw, I decided to add my sense of humor. I made Ducky Lucky sitting in a duck blind. (You have to live on the East coast to know what a duck blind is.) Henny Penny decided to grow her own corn. Hey, a girl has got to eat! So does Goosey Loosey, who is fishing beside the lake.

Betty Dravis: You certainly have a heart for your characters, K.M. and your illustrations work for me. I chuckled at the “girls” fishing and growing corn. But we do have duck hunting in California, too… (laughs)

After that incredible, unexpected offer from Ideal Publishing, I heard that you became a hot commodity and have been illustrating “happily ever after.” I understand your works have been distributed throughout the United States and you’ve worked for many big names in the business: Special Olympics, Disney, Warner Brothers Studio, Scholastic and Hanna Barbera, to name a few. Your list of prestigious awards in the field of children’s literature is also impressive. Parents Choice is one I recall and I’m delighted to know one of your latest books–The Mystery of Journeys Crowne–has won a Biblio Best of 2009 Award. That’s another tremendous achievement.

Can you give a brief synopsis of the next book in your Bazel Lark series, The Island of Zadu? I understand it just went to press. Will it also be published by Virtualbookworm.com Publishing? And when is the release date?

K. Michael Crawford: Argh, Matey! The Island of Zadu is a high-sailing sea adventure based on the same idea as The Mystery of Journeys Crowne. The reader has to answer clues to know what to draw on the page. So get your sea legs ready to set sail soon!

Happily Ever Art Publishing is a publishing company I started to publish all of my first-of-their-kind drawing books. Virtualbookworm is handling the printing and distribution of these books. Between creating the books, promoting them and all the other things I have to do these days, I was glad to have someone else distribute and print the books.

Betty, when I lived in Los Angeles, I was very lucky, because I had a friend who did a lot of work for the studios. She hired me to help her with the illustration jobs, so I worked on Magic School Bus video covers, Winnie the Pooh ornaments and Looney Tunes books. That helped me out until I got more of my own illustration work. It also helped me define my style. When you are drawing other people’s characters, you have a chance to see what you want to put in your own work. One of the things you have to do to be a good artist is to determine your own style of art. That comes from how you want to show the world how you see stuff and is very important to defining your style. Painting tons of paintings also helps to create a style. Just as writers need to learn their voice in writing, so do artists in drawing.

Betty Dravis: Wow, K. M.! You’re a human dynamo, like so many of our Dream Reachers. I can’t believe you started your own publishing company too.

As for your Bazel Lark series, there’s a story behind why you wrote them. Please clue us in.

K. Michael Crawford: At the time I came up with the idea, I was teaching kids Comic Book Art. When I first started teaching kids, in a class of fifteen students I would only have to help jump-start the imagination of about three kids. As the years went on, it got to be more and more kids who needed help. I decided to create special books to help kids learn to use their imagination all their lives. Kids who use their imagination have an easier time making the right choices for themselves and can see all the possibilities that life has to offer. If anything, using your imagination teaches you to believe in yourself, because it teaches you to believe.

Once I had a student who didn’t believe in all those make-believe things: dragons, tooth fairies, aliens and such. I made a deal with him; I told him that by the end of the classes I would get him to believe. I didn’t say what I was going to get him to believe, but if he didn’t believe by the last class I would owe him a treat. So the last day of class, he came up to me and said, “Well, you owe me a treat because I still don’t believe.” I looked at him and said, “Oh yes, I did get you to believe.” He gave me a quizzical look. “What did you get me to believe?” With a smile on my face, I replied, “In yourself…” His mouth dropped open and he then said, “Yes, you did!”

Betty Dravis: Well, K.M., if there’s anyone who can make kids believe, it’s you with your magical pen and writings. That must be a wonderful feeling.

Now that we’ve talked about your series, tell us about another recent work, Batty Malgoony’s Mystic Carnivale. That’s a clever name, by the way… Since my name is Betty, I’ve been called Batty a few times, as you might imagine. (laughs) So I can relate to Batty. Please tell us a little bit about this appealing character.

K. Michael Crawford: Ray Bradbury’s book, Something Wicked This Way Comes, has always stuck with me from the first time I read it as a child. Besides, I love carnivals, fairs and circuses. So what better way to use the quirky side of my character than to create a book; like instead of a cow catcher on the train, I put a cow.

Batty lives in Wicked Springs, Wyoming when he is not traveling with his Carnivale. I would tell you to stop by for a visit, but he might make you into one of his acts. He’s very good at recruiting new people. He is still trying to get me to walk the high-wire, while being an all-person band. He is just your basic quirky and waggish character that I hope kids will like.

Betty Dravis: A cow on a train instead of a cowcatcher! You’re too much, K.M.! (laughs) And thanks for the information about Batty.

Speaking of children, you must receive a lot of input from them about your works. K.M., can you think of any funny things kids or their parents have asked you? And what advice do you give people who want to be artists?

K. Michael Crawford: Yes, Betty, when I do presentations, the kids do say the funniest things to me. I ask them to help me create the character we are drawing and they start telling me that their mother was sick all night and slept on the bathroom floor. I think they are supposed to tell me those things so that I can use pieces of their tales in my art. There’s always been something about my personality where kids feel it’s okay to tell me all kinds of things about their lives and families. I have yet to meet a normal family or person, so that shows that the quirky art I create is not so out there.

As for advice, Betty, when I’m talking to a future artist or writer, I always tell them one thing: Eat your vegetables! No, really, I tell them to always follow your heart, because it will never steer you wrong. Do what you love, love what you do and never give up on reaching for your dream. You can be anything you want. Sometimes it takes a little hard work and elbow grease, but you will get there. Funny thing is, sometimes we get there and don’t realize it.

Betty Dravis: Great advice, K.M., and I, too, know many people who have “arrived” and don’t realize it. Life is strange…

I know you’ve created dozens of awesome characters, but do you have a very favorite? Do children seem to favor one over all others?

K. Michael Crawford: I love them all or I would not have created them. The ones I don’t like end up in the round file next to my drawing table. Once I learned that I not only need to create the characters, but I also need to bring them to life, I learned to create the kinds of characters that fit with my art and style. I gave them personalities, likes and dislikes… Most of the time, I already have them created in my head before I even put pencil to paper. Kids are the first to tell me whether they like a character or not. They don’t hold back on me.

Betty Dravis: From your vast menagerie of fanciful critters, K.M., I would have a hard time selecting a favorite, also.

When, in an earlier communication, I asked what the initial K stands for in your name, you said you liked keeping your private life separate from your art. I respect your privacy, but can you tell us a little about your home state and what you like to do in your spare time. I understand that Maurice Noble, a Disney animator, once told you that if you want your work to be 3-D then you need to have a 3-D life. What did he mean by that and what have you done to follow his advice?

K. Michael Crawford: The “K” stands for Kalamazoo or Kentucky. It could be Kakapo or Kangaroo. I prefer Karakul. It just depends on what mood I am in on that day. That’s the nice thing about an Initial; it can be anything you want.

I live in Maryland at the present time, but that can change at any time. I have been known to pack up and move somewhere else at a moment’s notice. There are too many wonderful places to live in the world. Why just live in one? I am hoping that the Queen asks me to come and visit with her for a bit. I drink tea, so I would fit right in. I would be more than willing to bring the crumpets. (childish giggle)

Maryland is known as “Little USA” because it has a little bit of everything; there are mountains, oceans and a bay. There are cows, deer and creatures of the forests. There are tall people and some of them are short. We had Edgar Allan Poe for a short bit, so should I say more?

When I am not doing my art, I am usually off on an adventure to get more stuff to use in my art. I have the most unusual adventures–par for my life–and I see the most wonderful things just by taking the road less traveled. (Sidebar: If I see a road I have never been on, I will turn and go down that road just to see what is there. It drives the people riding in my car crazy, but they wind up having the most fun). I try to see all kinds of things and have all kinds of experiences, so that I have a broad perspective. I visit museums, parks, gardens, and the strangest attractions. Yes, if I drove by the largest ball of yarn I would stop in and see it. That was what Maurice Noble was talking about. The more experiences you have, the more you can put in your art.

I have been known to spread a little wackiness in kids’ lives by teaching them how to draw. I think that they mostly teach me… Do you know that every time a fly lands it throws up? That puts a whole new meaning on a picnic. I don’t know if I have been on one since I learned that tidbit.

I also enjoy sailing and have had a few adventures on the high seas as well. I would like to recommend that it’s best not to sail during thunderstorms or snowstorms. Been there! Frosted eyelashes are not fun. Wait–I think I hear a new adventure calling me now. Off I go!

illustrated by Sarah Davis

Betty Dravis: Karakul Michael! That’s not too catchy, so I think I’ll stick with K.M. (laughs)

Hang with me a little longer before you go dashing off… I’m almost finished and am curious to know if you have had any mentors and what children’s writers and illustrators you admire most.

Another illustrator who awes me, though, is Sarah Davis of Australia. Sarah began illustrating for children in 2007 and was awarded the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s 2009 Crichton Award for her first picture book, Mending Lucille, by J.R. Poulter (Lothian/Hachette Livre) which was released in 2008. In 2009 she illustrated several other books (Harper Collins/Random House/Scholastic). And another book that Sarah illustrated, Fearless by well-known English/Australian children’s book author Colin Thompson, has been shortlisted for the Children’s Book Council of Australia’s Book of the Year award. I must say that’s very impressive for such a short time in your business. She’s the daughter-in-law of my closest friend, Linda Bulger of New York, and I’m wondering if you’ve heard of Sarah yet.

K. Michael Crawford: I am sorry to say that I haven’t heard of Sarah Davis, but lately I have been really bad about keeping up with all the wonderful authors and illustrators out there. It’s amazing to me all the talent I’m part of as a children’s book author and illustrator. It’s just incredible.

And did you know that only five percent of the world’s population is in the arts? That’s a lot of entertaining, dancing, acting, singing, designing, writing and creating we have to do for the rest of the world. I guess I better get back to work, so that I contribute my share.

As for mentors, there are so many people that have left their mark on me and what I create that it would take days to list them all. Two of the major ones are L. Frank Baum and Ray Bradbury. For artists, I would say a lot of the masters and illustrators whose work I have enjoyed. The illustrators I like the most have found a way to create energy in the lines they put on paper. That’s not an easy thing to do.

My inspiration comes from lots of different things. It can come from people I see out and about, or it can come from something someone does. You do have to be careful around me; I don’t miss a trick and lots of things I see out in the world go into my work.

I was once asked if you could mirror the career of any other author, who would it be and why? I answered that I was having too much fun writing my own life story to want to mirror someone else’s life. But there are a few authors I would want to have their royalties sent to me.

Betty Dravis: Oh, yeah, K.M., I wouldn’t mind having just one percent of Stephen King’s royalties. (laughs) As for being careful around you, I’m not a very cautious person, but thanks for the warning… On second thought, though, I’d enjoy being the subject of one of your projects.

This seems like a good place to toss this question into the mix: If you could spend the day with anyone (living or dead) who would you choose and why?

K. Michael Crawford: There are three people I would like to spend a few days with and I would like to create one book with them. Those three would be Leonardo de Vinci, Walt Disney (although I heard that he could be a little cranky sometimes) and Dr. Seuss. I could see it now! The Lorax would learn to fly up in the sky and the Butter Battle Bunch would ride a wooden bike or maybe take a hike with Bazel and Batty in the happiest place on earth. Dr. Seuss taught me to read, Walt Disney got me to see the magic and Leonardo de Vinci taught me to dream.

Betty Dravis: K.M., it blows my mind to think what you four brainiacs could concoct together! What a mind-boggling thought! (laughs) But what are you currently working on and what do you hope for your writing career in the next few years? Any goals that you have yet to reach?

K. Michael Crawford: I just finished my latest book called The Island of Zadu. It just went to the printer. It’s the next book in the Bazel Lark series. The Mystery of Journeys Crowne is the first one. Thanks for mentioning those above.

I am also planning to get back on a funny book I started last fall: Professor Horton Hogwash’s Museum of Ridiculous. Believe me when I say it will be ridiculous. I called it that so I could learn how to spell the word ridiculous. I am still learning that one; thank goodness for spell check. One of the rules in the book is, “Never, ever pick your nose’s friends” just to give you an idea. The reader/artist is asked to fill in all of the museum’s collection and treasures in the book and each room has a theme the reader must follow. The sillier things they draw on each page, the better.

I have ideas for at least six more books after Horton’s book, but my big dream is to build a magical place/park where kids can come to use their imagination in real life. I haven’t worked out the details yet, but I have a whole notebook of ideas.

I think if I stop dreaming, you might as well put me in the ground, feet pointing up. I hear the strangest things sometimes: If a person is buried with their feet pointing down it means they weren’t a good person in life. I was in the middle of a cemetery when I heard that one, so it was okay if I heard it. Somehow, someday, that bit of information will show itself in one of my paintings. It always does…

Betty Dravis: From viewing what you’ve already created, K.M., I’m certainly happy to know that we can expect much more from you. That theme park is a grand idea. Please let us know when it happens.

And congratulations on the start of production on your Island book… I hope the series becomes a best-seller like most of your books. I bet you had another celebratory dance, didn’t you, K.M.? But before leaving, let’s repeat your website link, and add your Facebook link: www.happilyeverart.com/

http://tinyurl.com/2eq6qo6

K. Michael Crawford: Thank you, Betty, for adding those links. This has been fun and I hope silly to read… But while we are at it, let’s everyone get up and do that good celebratory dance together. It’s always good to dance your way through life. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Betty Dravis: It’s our pleasure, K. M. You’re a lot of fun…

Your website is pretty comprehensive, but if you have other links, feel free to add them. This is also the place to mention anything you would like to add to this interview; anything important to you. Oops, I forgot to mention that you also sell some of your art on your website. I would love to have one of your drawings on my office wall, so I’ll be in touch on that. Details are found under PRINTS on your website. I’m wondering if you also sell any of your colored drawings, like the pink dragon.

K. Michael Crawford: Hold the presses, Betty! Batty just sent a Carnivale clown over with another bit of great, waggish news: Nancy Allen’s book that I illustrated, Trouble in Troublesome Creek, was selected to represent the state of Kentucky at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. this fall 2010.

Betty Dravis: Another honor, K. M.—that’s awesome! Congratulations, but I’m too tired for another dance. I fear you would keep me dancing till the cows come home. (laughs)

That makes us all want your art work even more, so tell us whether that’s possible?

K. Michael Crawford: I’m still floating in nether space about that honor, Betty, so I’ll dance later…in private. (childish giggle)

It’s funny that you wondered about buying my art, because recently I decided to send more of my children (paintings and artwork) out into the world because I’m running out of room to keep them. I am always interested in finding good homes for my art and there is no application to fill out or waiting period to get some. I even do commission work… If anyone is interested in buying from the gallery section of my website, they can contact me there. I don’t even charge an arm or a leg.

I am a little less willing to sell the original art from a book that I have illustrated because someday the publisher or printer might need the art again. It would be funny to me if someone hung an illustration from Bazel’s or Batty’s book. It would look like an incomplete painting, but who knows? I have seen incomplete paintings in museums.

I also have videos on youtube.com for my books. They are silly videos I created to promote my work. One person told me they were going to have trouble sleeping after they watched Batty’s video. (childish giggle) I have a new video that I will be adding soon that will promote only my art.

http://www.youtube.com/user/KMichaelCrawford

I think I might do what James Patterson does when he advertises one of his new books. He clearly states that he is going to kill off one of his characters if you don’t buy his book. Well, I am going to start saying that I am going to send one of my monsters to live with you if you don’t buy one of my books. They will eat you out of house and home, while making a mess in every room. They don’t smell too good, either. Just imagine trying to sleep while one of my monsters is under your bed, belching the alphabet song. You are also going to pay for postage when I send you the monster. Imagine the cost of postage for a two hundred pound monster? It would be so much easier just to buy my books.

Betty Dravis: You are baaaaaaaaaad, K. M. That is too funny. (laughs)

I hate to leave the fun and games, but thanks for becoming a part of our growing list of Dream Reachers. You are in good company and my co-author Chase Von and I are happy to have you in our rather exclusive “club.” Like the subjects of our other interviews, you dream big and have stretched to reach your dreams. I really enjoyed getting to know more about you and wish you best of luck with all your future projects. Your journey through life is an inspiring adventure.

K. Michael Crawford: Thank you for all your wonderful comments about my work. It’s always nice to hear that someone else is enjoying my silly art and quirky books. I don’t even want to think about not being able to pick my nose’s friends or sail to mysterious islands. Those who like my art and books allow me to keep creating those adventures.

I want to also thank you for letting me be a part of Dream Reachers and perhaps, you’ll invite me to visit again when you are ready for some more silliness. I will put out the tea and crumpets and we can sit a spell chewing the art. My art comes in flavors… (childish giggle)

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