Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Amy Nielander

© Amy Nielander

Jan. 24, 2020

Today we are excited to feature author-illustrator Amy Nielander and her picture book, GRAMA'S HUG (Page Street Kids, Jan. 28, 2020). Enter to win a copy!




Tell us about yourself and how you came to write and illustrate for children.

I grew up with a dynamic, story-telling mom. She shared a lot of her writing with me when I was a child. Her process fascinated me the most. I listened to her form loose ideas then stitch them together with words until she had a beautiful story. That led to my own writing experimentations. I kept journals and had pen-pals growing up. I eventually went to college for product design which fed my interest in drawing and problem solving. 


© Amy Nielander


It wasn’t until we started a family when I kind of stepped back and wondered if I was really serving my purpose. Picture books were becoming a big part of our world and I treasured that shared reading experience with my kids. I wondered if I could contribute to that connection building by playing a role in the story-making process. I decided to give it a try! My first attempt at making a dummy was illustrating a story my mom wrote for a godchild several years ago. We submitted it but unfortunately received rejections. Since I fell in love with the process of pairing art and text I decided to write my own stories. And here I am, 10+ years later!

Congrats on your forthcoming picture book, GRAMA'S HUG. Tell us about the story and what inspired you.

Thank you so much! GRAMA’S HUG is about a devoted grama and her space-loving granddaughter, May. The story follows the pair during May’s elementary years as they become an inseparable team. They create art, birdwatch and prepare inventions for the annual space fair. They never, ever say goodbye without a hug until that moment slips away one day. This picture book will inspire conversations about intergenerational relationships, treasuring moments and honoring traditions (with a STEM spin). 


© Amy Nielander


The idea for GRAMA’S HUG landed in 2013 when I was walking my daughter to school one morning. As we neared the entrance, the bell rang and kids ran in. Then, I heard a parent yell out “I am not leaving without a hug!” I couldn’t get that sentence out of my head. It soon became the title for my first draft which I eventually shared at an SCBWI round table critique. Years and many drafts later, I submitted a picture book dummy to Page Street Kids. The title eventually changed but that sentence still lives in the story. 


© Amy Nielander


Was your road to publication long and winding, short and sweet, or something in between?

It was definitely long and winding. I feel like it would look like a connect-the-dots- worksheet if I plotted it out! 


© Amy Nielander


As an author and illustrator, which comes first, the words or the images?

It varies from story to story. Sometimes words come first, sometimes images do.


© Amy Nielander


What projects are you working on now?

We have a picture book on submission with another one close behind. I have a few more picture book dummies in need of tune ups and plan on giving them my full attention after the book launch (February 22nd). 


© Amy Nielander


What advice do you have for aspiring author-illustrators?

Be certain your stories reflect the highest quality of work you are capable of. A good way to insure this is with critique groups, writer workshops, manuscript reviews via conferences or mentorships. This is also a fantastic way to create deadlines for yourself so work gets finished! It’s so easy to get tugged into posting on social media or finding an agent if you don’t have one. If you’re sharing your work, constantly building + improving your skills as a writer/illustrator and staying on top of the industry, your work will find its way to the right publisher or agent.


© Amy Nielander


What is one thing most people don't know about you?

I love salsa dancing. 


© Amy Nielander


Where can people find you online?

Website: https://www.amynielander.com/
Twitter: @nielanderamy 
Instagram: @amynielander 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/nielanderamy/


 Amy Nielander is a children’s picture book author and illustrator. She strives to spread joy and inspire others through her stories and school visits. Her first wordless picture book, The Ladybug Race (PomegranateKids), received international recognition as a finalist entry in the Silent Book Contest and later earned a Bronze Medal Book Awardby Independent Publisher. Her second picture book, Grama’s Hug (Page Street Kids) received a starred review from Booklist and releases January 28th, 2020. Amy lives in Michigan with her family and works alongside her sweet, chair-sharing havanese (whom she adores), every day. 



a Rafflecopter giveaway

17 comments:

  1. How interesting that one sentence spurred a picture book--congrats on its launch...and for persevering!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yo had me at our art and I love the idea of this intergenerational book and the deeper topic. Congrats.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Salsa dancing! Fun to see you here, Amy. Congrats again!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love the cover and the idea of this book--I'm not leaving without a hug is something similar to what I've told my own kids.

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great story idea! And great advice for aspiring writers and Illustrators.

    ReplyDelete
  6. “I am not leaving without a hug!” the truth of all grandparents. It is good to know we're have profound impact in our grandchildren's lives. I love this book.

    ReplyDelete
  7. oh, amy! how sweet and precious this book is! congrats on sharing your talents with the rest of us! love, auntie becky (no, not the one from full house.)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Love the origin story behind your picture book. Inspiration truly is everywhere. Gorgeous illustrations.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I so love the concept of this book and how one line started it all! I remember my grandma's hugs and miss them every day!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Love that line, So glad it remained part of the story! Look forward to becoming acquainted with your work! Thx for the encouragement to stay the course.

    ReplyDelete
  11. GRAMA'S HUG sounds like such a sweet book. I look forward to reading it.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Sounds like a great story. I'm sure lots of families will enjoy it at bedtime. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

    ReplyDelete
  13. It's fun to think that somewhere out there is a person who has no idea that she inspired your story. We never know the impact our casual words might have!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Janet! I actually became very good friends with the parent who yelled that sentence out and dedicated the book to her. She never knew the backstory until I handed her one of my first copies. She was quite surprised.

      Delete
  14. Oh, NOW I want that sentence! I'm going to use it on my grands. They are getting to THAT age when it's not so cool to hug Nana anymore. Love your artwork! Congrats on your book! Can't wait to read it.

    ReplyDelete

Template developed by Confluent Forms LLC; more resources at BlogXpertise