Hi Math is Everywhere Readers,
You’re in for a great treat today because we have wonderful bestselling author-illustrator and Critter Lit founder, Lindsay Ward here with us today to talk about her newest book, BETWEEN THE LINES, which just came out this September!
A young boy who loves his community notices that as neighbors stop interacting, the colors around them slowly fade. Then a thunderstorm sweeps away the last hints of bluebird skies and lemon-Popsicle days and leaves a rift in the road that doesn’t get fixed. As the adults around him move on, the boy dreams of the way life once was. He decides that he doesn’t want to live in a world without color, so he sets out to change things…
Kaitlyn: Hi, Lindsay, thanks so much for joining us today!
Lindsay: Thank you for having me!
Kaitlyn: Of course, I’m so excited, so let’s dive in! First of all, what inspired you to write Between the Lines?
Lindsay: This book was a journey to say the least. The first draft was finished in late 2016. Initially the idea was about how divisive everything had become between people and our focus on technology taking over everything. At the time, I only had my now oldest son, Jackson. I kept thinking about how I would explain what was happening in the world to him in a way that he could understand. I went back and forth on this manuscript for almost a year and a half before sharing it with my agent at the time. Truth be told, this book always terrified me a bit. I knew the art would be an immense challenge and I think I stuffed it away in a “drawer” so to speak for a while before I was brave enough to take it on. I’ve always been inspired by the idea of The Wizard of Oz film, with the first jump into technicolor. I loved the play between the black and white and color used in that film. I wanted to play on a similar idea for this book. Skip ahead to early 2019 and I was between agents and decided to share BETWEEN THE LINES with my editor directly at Two Lions, Kelsey Skea. We’ve worked together on quite a few books now and she’s always been a great barometer for me and my writing. I tend to throw her a lot of curveballs with the themes and styles of my writing and she’s always such a great sport about it. I feel very lucky to work with an editor like Kelsey. She got back to me with notes and said she’d love to see a revise and resubmit. Kelsey bought the project later that summer. Although this story was written back in 2016, since then the world has changed far more than I ever could have imagined. I began working on the final art in summer 2020, which as we all know was an incredibly tumultuous time. It was very difficult to complete the art for this book with everything that was going on at the time, but somehow it got done. There are many themes, since the pandemic, that can be pulled from this story that I had never intended. It will be really interesting to see what readers pull from the book, as the interpretations have stretched because of world events.
Kaitlyn: Wow, I think this goes to show that some books are so meant to be despite being difficult, and that sometimes they take a while because of the timing. I never would ha e guessed that this was written before the pandemic because the powerful parallels I draw to the pandemic, but you’re so right, these themes were already in our lives and the pandemic really bright them out. Your son is so lucky to have you ready to help him understand the world in this way, and what an amazing relationship you and Kelsey have, too! Can you share why you think this book is so important to share with children?
Lindsay: For me, the heart of this story is about community. We are stronger together rather than apart. My hope for not only my own boys, but other children growing up right now, is that they learn to work together and be compassionate in a world that isn’t easy to navigate. I wrote the dedication to my three boys and it pretty much sums up what I hope this book can accomplish in some small way with my readers:
For my boys: Jackson, Tucker, and Walker
This book is my letter to you. Love the world. Embrace it. Be kind. Be brave. And don’t be afraid to change it. Love always, Mom
Kaitlyn: Absolutely beautiful, and I do believe this book can help inspire in that way. For me, it was so interesting to see some pages in landscape format and some pages vertical in this book. Can you share a bit about why you did this, and what impact it has on the story?
Lindsay: I wanted to incorporate a way for children to physically engage with this story. The reader becomes part of the navigation of the text with a simple turn of the book. I also felt like those spreads (three total), turning the book vertically expanded on the impact or magnitude of the scenes for the reader and the characters.
Kaitlyn: What a cool way to further in love the reader and develop characters! Readers, I hope you enjoy it, too, when get read the book. Lindsay, do you mind sharing who your editor is for this story, and what you enjoy about working: with this editor?
Linsday: Ha! I think I beat you to that in my previous answer, but I’ll mention her again because she’s a fantastic editor: Kelsey Skea at Two Lions.
Kaitlyn: Haha, it’s so wonderful when your editor is such an integral part of your book. Can you share who your literary agent is and why you enjoy working with her?
Lindsay: Lara Perkins at Andrea Brown Literary Agency. We’ve only recently started working together as my last agent left the industry earlier this year. I’ve been really lucky to have worked with incredibly talented agents throughout my career. Each one of them has taught me so much about the industry, my writing and illustrating, and the types of projects I want to be a part of moving forward. Working with Lara has felt like coming home, since Andrea Brown Literary Agency was my first agency when I first started out. I love that Lara embraces the expanse of what I’m interested in doing. I like to write about a lot of different things and I don’t generally stick to one type of picture book or genre. Lara is great at looking at things from 30,000 feet– juggling the various projects I’m interested in doing and how we can balance placing them and my schedule. She’s always up to discuss anything and is very easy to talk to. Communication is so important in an agent/author relationship and I feel very lucky to work with someone who understands that so profoundly. She also has a great eye for different perspectives, how someone may interpret something, and sees the holes in my writing. Her feedback always adds tremendously to my revisions.
Kaitlyn: Wow, that sounds like the best relationship ever, and thanks for sharing so much about your experience. Many readers of this blog are trying to navigate the query trenches, and I believe your answer here will really help a lot of them. Can you compare working on this new book and your 2020 Goodreads Readers Choice Finalist, This Book is Gray?
Lindsay: I guess the connection between the two is color. I’ve always been interested in color theory and how we relate to colors. I’m definitely the person in my family who gets asked about paint swatches anytime someone is painting a room in their house– I love weighing in on color like that. In fact, if I’m painting a room (or my nails to be honest) if the name of the color doesn’t appeal to me I won’t use it, even if I like the color. This is probably because I’ve been doing picture books for too long, but the text and the image must work in tandem! Or I can’t use it. I can’t get past the name. But I digress— back to your question: I love color and I think it plays a big role in a lot of my books. I actually wrote THIS BOOK IS GRAY after BETWEEN THE LINES, but they were within a year of each other. So obviously the ideas had some overlap. Color seemed to be a big exploration for me at the time.
Kaitlyn: I love your thoughts about color, and how you play with color in your books as well. I also think it’s great for readers of this blog to see how you don’t have to have just one style as a picture book writer. Thanks for this great inspiration, Lindsay! Now, I’d love to know, what was it like to find out that your Dexter T. Rexter series was an Amazon bestseller?
Lindsay: Pretty crazy! To be honest, it’s still surreal to me how many readers have connected with Dexter. I have had such a wonderful experience working with Two Lions. They really care about the life of their titles, beyond the first three months after the book’s release. I’ve been lucky enough that DEXTER has been an Amazon Bestseller a few times since it came out in 2018. When I originally sold DON’T FORGET DEXTER, I never intended for it to be a series. That sort of happened by accident, but I’m thrilled so many kids have connected with Dexter and his three books.
Kaitlyn: That’s the best! It’s wonderful to know that so many wonderfully unexpected things can come from a book. Keep up the great work, making beautiful books AND great series, too! Speaking of which, can you share a bit about what’s coming next?
Lindsay: I’m juggling a bit right now– but I like it that way. My first nonfiction picture book, HELPING HOSPITAL, releases in October. It’s the first in the Community Helpers series I’m doing with HarperCollins. Each book focuses on the people who work to help their community at various locations, the first being a hospital, followed by the second book TRUSTY TOWN HALL, which will come out in Summer 2023. The books include three kids each time, who are visiting for different reasons. There are also seek and find elements throughout the books as well.
In Summer 2022, I’ll be releasing THE CAPITOL: A MEET THE NATION’S CAPITOL BOOK, the first in a new series about important buildings on Capitol Hill, also with HarperCollins. The second title will be about the White House. THE CAPITOL was a crazy book to complete, as I wasn’t able to tour the Capitol in person due to COVID and I had to complete the entire book in three months to get it to the printers in time for the release prior to the 2022 elections. Crazy!
Currently, I’m working on the final art for the follow-up to THIS BOOK IS GRAY. It’s all about the color pink, titled PINK IS NOT A COLOR, which I’m really excited about. It’s been great to revisit the world of Gray and all his friends. After PINK wraps, I’ll be jumping into JESSIE: QUEEN OF THE ROAD, a companion to my book ROSIE STRONGER THAN STEEL, about the first women to ride across the country, told through the perspective of the motorcycle. Then I will be moving on to art for TRUSTY TOWN HALL and THE WHITE HOUSE next year. I also have two projects I can’t announce officially yet, but I’m really excited about them as they are my first projects as an author-only. I can’t wait to experience the author-only side of the table and work with some amazing illustrators to bring my words to life.
Kaitlyn: Wow wow wowee! You are a busy person, and all of these sound amazing! I can see many many more awards and honors coming soon for you, my friend! Finally, if you could spend a day with your favorite author or illustrator, would you sit by a fireside and chat or go out on an adventure together?
Lindsay: Hands down, Mary Blair. I’m such a huge fan. I would be thrilled just to hang out with her– no matter what we did! Now she was someone who was a master of color.
Kaitlyn: Aw, that sounds absolutely amazing! I would love to be a fly in that wall! Thanks so much again for joining us and sharing such wonderful insight today!
Author Bio and Links
Lindsay Ward has a BFA in Illustration from Syracuse University. Her most recent books include Between the Lines, Scooper and Dumper, I Am Not Sick, written by Frank Tupta, Rosie Stronger Than Steel, This Book Is Gray, Let’s Go! and Let’s Build! with HarperFestival, and the Amazon Bestselling Dexter T. Rexter series: Don’t Forget Dexter!, It’s Show and Tell, Dexter!, and Vacation for Dexter! with Two Lions. She is also the author and illustrator of Brobarians (Two Lions, 2017), The Importance of Being 3 (Dial, 2016), Rosco vs. the Baby (S&S, 2016), Henry Finds His Word (Dial, 2015), a Choose to Read Ohio Book, When Blue Met Egg (Dial, 2012), and Please Bring Balloons (Dial, 2013), which was produced into a play by the New York City Children’s Theater in 2017. Her work has been reviewed in Kirkus Reviews, Publisher’s Weekly, and the New York Times. Lindsay is the founder of Critter Lit, a free picture book manuscript and illustration critique service for up-and-coming authors and illustrators. Lindsay lives in Peninsula, Ohio with her husband, author Frank Tupta, three sons, nine ducks, and dog, Sally. Visit her online at lindsaymward.com or follow her on twitter @lindsaymward.
Kaitlyn’s review of BETWEEN THE LINES
This beautiful, interactive book that blossoms with color will inspire you and your little ones to look at the world in a whole new way!
Do you want to win SIGNED copies of Lindsay Ward’s Books THIS BOOK IS GRAY and BETWEEN THE LINES (US only please)
To enter the random drawing, do any/all of the following options, then come back and write all of the things you did in ONE blog comment. (If you forget something, feel free to reply to your first comment ;))
- Comment on this post
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Thank you all again for always supporting such wonderful creators and come back tomorrow for our next #TeamSanchez cover reveal!
Kaitlyn Leann Sanchez