Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How to Find an Illustrator When Writing a Children’s Book with Author Ryan Cunningham

Today we are interviewing 2-time Oregon author Ryan Cunningham. Ryan has recently released a children’s book titled Gary’s Gray World. The book is filled with beautiful artwork which attracts the child’s eye with great interest. But Ryan is an author, not an artist, so how did he find and hire the perfect artist for his illustrations? Let’s chat with Ryan and find out.

Carol Denbow: Welcome Ryan, we’re very happy to have you here on A Book Inside.
Let’s start by finding out where the idea for Gary’s Gray World came from?

Ryan Cunningham: My inspiration for writing “Gary’s Gray World” came from watching my nephew, Dan grow up without his biological father being there for him. Dan is now thirteen years old, but he has no contact with his real dad. When Dan was born his father wasn’t in the picture very much. My sister raised him by herself except with the help of our parents and myself.

Carol Denbow: Did you have an idea in your mind as to what your characters would look like before you wrote the book?

Ryan Cunningham: No, I actually did not.

Carol Denbow: Many of our blog visitors are currently working on or are planning to write a children’s book. Where did you locate “the perfect artist” for Gary’s Gray World?

Ryan Cunningham: I found the artist, Chrissy Fanslau, through a networking website for writers and illustrators called Chrissy’s artwork stood out from others I researched with her descriptive and life-like facial expressions in her characters.

Carol Denbow: If you don’t mind my asking, what did you need to pay for each illustration?

Ryan Cunningham: I'd rather not say. You pay for quality and her talented artwork just felt right for my story.

Carol Denbow: In your search for an artist, did you find that all artists charge about the same, or did they vary in cost?

Ryan Cunningham: They do vary in cost depending on how long the artist has been in the business and if they have a good reputation.

Carol Denbow: Did you get a sample of the illustrations before committing to an artist, or was it a crap-shoot on the final submission?

Ryan Cunningham: Chrissy sent me each finished illustration and if I wanted any changes she would make the changes before going to print.

Carol Denbow: Where would you suggest a writer begin their search for a good artist?

Ryan Cunningham: Maybe the best way is to check out the local art gallery or museum for local artists who display their art in these places regularly. If that doesn’t work then I suggest look up artists on line and check out their web sites.

Carol Denbow: You have also written a book of poetry, can you please tell us a little about it, title, and subject matter?

Ryan Cunningham: The title is “Hearts, Hopes, and Halos.” This is a book of inspirational poems, love poems, and poems about angels.

Carol Denbow: Ryan, thank you for taking the time to be here with us. Is there anything you might like to add before we finish?

Ryan Cunningham: I am grateful that I was given the gift and ability to write poetry and stories. I want to bring hope and inspiration to people who read them.

Carol Denbow: Where can our blog visitors learn more about your books?

Ryan Cunningham: Through my web site; There are links on my site to where the books are sold; and

Ryan recently completed a Virtual Book Tour online. Follow his tour, or get some ideas on how to do a tour of your own:

Gary’s Gray World; The Story: When Gary's father is too busy to play, a scary moment at the baseball field brings his dad rushing to the park to rescue him. But instead the two discover that making time for each other is the most important thing in a father and son relationship.

Excerpt for Gary’s Gray World:

“What are your plans for today, Son?” asked Dad, putting on his coat and hat.

“Today’s the annual father and son baseball game.” Gary brightened. “Don’t you remember?”

His father abruptly stopped in his tracks and turned to look at Gary with an apologetic expression on his face.

“I’m sorry, I can’t be there. I’ve got too much work to do at the office. I’ll make it up to you, I promise.”

“Sure. That’ll be fine,” said Gary, trying not to sound too disappointed.

Bio: Born in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1972, Ryan J. Cunningham discovered his passion for writing poetry and children’s stories at an early age. Throughout his high school and college years, he took writing courses to enhance his writing abilities. Ryan became a member of the SCBWI (Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.) He published two inspirational books of poems titled “Angels Near and Far” and “Hearts, Hopes, and Halos.” His poetry and stories have been published in anthologies and magazines. Ryan presently resides in Coos Bay, Oregon where he spends his time hiking the trails, spending quality time with family, and working on his personal web site, ( to share his poems and stories with the world.

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