Author-Illustrator Spotlight: Valeria Wicker

© Valeria Wicker

July 17, 2020

We are excited to feature author-illustrator Valeria Wicker and her debut picture book, THE UGLY DOODLES (Little Brown/JIMMY Patterson Books, July 7, 2020). Enter to win a copy!





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

Thank you so much for having me! A few years ago I was only dreaming about being featured on KIdlit411 and here I am! Yay!!
This very site is where it all started. I was able to find everything I needed to get my feet wet in this amazing industry. That was shortly after, a few years ago, someone mentioned I should look into illustrating children’s books. That was a great idea, I always wanted to do something awesome with my art and illustrating for children it was the ultimate call for me! 
© Valeria Wicker

There was only one problem: I had absolutely no clue where to start and how to do it. I had a background in illustration from the school I attended in Italy, so the first thing that came to mind was, “It should be a piece of cake, because I know how to draw and I’ll get published in no time, right?”Boy was I wrong! I immediately found out the opposite, when I put together a rough portfolio and had the nerves to send it out for submission without even knowing what a query letter was. Yes, you read it right. Have you ever heard of the expression “love makes you do dumb things”? That was me. But then, once I was able to tame the excitement and let my brain bring me back to earth, I started to do more research. 
© Valeria Wicker

And that is how I found you ladies and your amazing inventory of resources. From there one thing lead to the other one, made connection with online critique partners, joined the SCBWI, studied creative writing and even worked with professionals to learn more and bring my knowledge to “submission level.” 

Congrats on your debut picture book, THE UGLY DOODLES. Tell us how it came to be and what inspired your writing and illustrations.

© Valeria Wicker
Thank you! I can’t believe we are getting so close to publication already! THE UGLY DOODLES came to me merely by watching my young ones drawing on dozen pieces of paper and immediately abandoning their work at the first sign of failure. That reminded me how the artist struggle is real even among little ones. We’re always focused in seeking perfection and leave behind anything that is not quite as perfect as we would like it to be. We truly are our very own worst critics. THE UGLY DOODLES was written as a reminder that doodles, good or bad ones, are always the first step leading to a masterpiece, if given the chance.

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

Good question! It’s hard to decide because I always felt that regardless the rejections and the various road-blockers, my experience has been thrilling the whole time. I never felt at a loss. Okay, maybe once or twice, but it was only because I couldn’t see pass my own ego. But once I let go of the ego, it was short and sweet. My best teachers are without a doubt, my own failures and mistakes. The types that make you “smell the coffee” rather quickly, especially when rejections start pouring like cats and dogs. The whole experience was very humbling, and a few years of my life were a small price to pay comparing to the immense feeling of accomplishment I’ve got in return when THE UGLY DOODLES was acquired by JIMMY Patterson. I am very grateful for every mistakes and rejections. Those tiny set-backs helped me think through solutions and persist within the journey. 

© Valeria Wicker


What other projects are you working on? 

At the moment, I am in the process of illustrating James Patterson's YA graphic novel ELEANOR RIGBY. It's about a girl that runs away to Seattle to look for her sister where she has to tell stories on street to make survival money. I am also working with the JIMMY Patterson team on fine tuning details for book # 2 which will be published sometimes after ELENOR RIGBY hits the book shelves. And in my spare time,  I have been enjoying family, painting and pottery making with the little ones.

© Valeria Wicker




 What are the one or two best things you did for your career? 

One of the best choices was certainly working with critique partners. I adore my online and local group and I wouldn't be be here if it wasn't for the amazing women I am priviledged to work with. I owe them so much.

© Valeria Wicker
 So yes, getting into a critique group was essential. The second biggest thing was letting go of my ego and recognize rejections as part of an author’s growing process.

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

Hmmm…That I was the high school rock band lead singer? Ha, ha! Jokes aside, well, that is one. One other thing is that English is not my native language and I have no formal English education. For this reason a creative writing careers seemed an impossible dream to achieve at first. But then it went from impossible to hard to a little hard to totally doable once I decided I wanted to do the rest of my life. So, this is my advice to all of those who are starting out in this industry and think you are never going to make it for whatever reason: Change your state of mind and get rid of all the mind barriers that keep you from succeeding. If I did it, you can do it too. You just have to keep your teachability (probably not even a real word, ha ha!) index tuned and most importantly believe in yourself.
© Valeria Wicker

Where can people find you online?

The best way to find me is on my website www.valeriawicker.com



© Valeria Wicker



Valeria Wicker has been doodling and making things since she was a little girl. She moved to Pennsylvania shortly after graduating from an Italian Art school. Within this time inspiration led her from wood carving to pottery to painting to ultimately discovering her true love – picture books. Valeria spends most of her time at her desk trying to tame her own doodles while, simultaneously being a wife, a mom of 5 children, one Labrador and two bunnies.


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38 comments:

  1. I could've used this book when I was younger and probably even now. Your work is amazing. Congratulations!

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    1. It's never too late to finish your masterpiece.Thank you so very much!

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  2. Your illustrations are absolutely delightful! What endearing characters and magical settings.

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  3. An absolutely beautiful book!

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  4. I very much like her cat doodle that she's tossing away in one illustration--she needs to save that!

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  5. Valeria- I love your art. The frog/boat one is probably my favorite. I love the attitude you have toward rejections. Definitely puts things in perspective and helps you enjoy the journey. Congratulations on the UGLY DOODLES and your upcoming ones with Jimmy Patterson. So exciting!

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    1. Thank you Abi! Once, someone said to me "it's all about the journey" and he was right. Cherish all the feelings the journey brings.❤

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  6. Congratulations! Love the illustrations.

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  7. Valeria, I love your illustrations, especially the adorable children. Your upbeat message about writing, attitude and all other things has spurred me on to get back to work also. Thanks for a terrific interview.

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    1. Thank you so much for your kind words. I fills my heart to know I'm inspiring you to push through your journey. Keep going!

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  8. Your artwork is amazing--the expressions you captured and the light/shadow look real. Congratulations on your hard work paying off.

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  9. This looks really cute, I love the illustrations.

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  10. Adorable book for young readers. Darling illustrations.

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  11. Love the illustrations! This book looks like so much fun. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.

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  12. I adore your art! This looks like a delightful book. I can't wait to read it!

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  13. My granddaughters will enjoy their Daddy reading this at bedtime.

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  14. Loved your comment that you regard your failures and mistakes as your best teachers. Great attitude and definitely paid off for you. Congrats!

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  15. Love the idea of this book! Congratulations!!!

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  16. I love the illustrations! This was so great!

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  17. I'm in love with your book already! Your art is captivating and to be able to write in a second language is amazing! We lived in Europe for just over 3 years and it is SO hard to learn as an adult. Funny enough, I read children's books in German to help learn. Super congratulations on your books. I'm sure you are going to have a long beautiful career.

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  18. I just love the illustrations so cute such a great idea for a book too.

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  19. I fall in love with talented illustrators, You are by far my new crush

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  20. This looks like such a cute and interesting book. I love the pictures.

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  21. I love the big-eyed illustrations here.

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  22. Such a cute book with wonderful illustrations!

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    1. The above comment is me. I just now realized I never changed my account to my married name.

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  23. I had a kid in my class this past year that needed this book. He would throw away ever art project he did if he did the smallest thing "wrong" in his eyes too it.

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