What does a cat want in a best friend? Someone who knows just where to scratch. Someone who can read the many moods of a cat’s tail. Someone who knows when to play and when to stay away. Wendy Wahman is an award winning illustrator, and has captured the essence of her picture book in this trailer!
What is your earliest memory of writing/drawing?
I drew all the time. I used to draw on our concrete patio in the back yard in Torrance, with big color chalk. My mom would hose it away in the evening. Inside the house, I’d draw on big wall chalkboards and erase when I needed more space. I used to like to draw with ice plant outside on the sidewalk and watch how fast the sun would evaporate it. I made up stories while I drew. Still do.
What inspired you to write/illustrate your first book?
Being with my dogs in public places, especially Andy. He’s afraid of kids, so I am constantly running defense for him. Asking kids to pet the other dogs, and HOW to do it so the dogs like it and the kids get a good experience – and not a butt in their face. Andy is so much easier with kids now. I wanted to keep kids safe when they're with dogs, but I also wanted to keep dogs safe when they're with kids. Ideally, it should be a good experience for both of them. My world revolves around my standard poodles, GoGo, Andy, and LaRoo. We bought our house (one story, to avoid stairs when they’re older, kept the carpet for better traction, bought a king-size bed when we got our 2nd dog 13 years ago), cars, vacations (uh, none without them, lately—GoGo is old and has health issues, we do not want to leave her) with them in mind. We live in an area close to trails & mountains and the best dog park in Washington State (Marymoor), and they go somewhere every day. Safe to say, I am as obsessed with my dogs’ happiness and health as most parents are with their children’s.
Do you use your childhood as inspiration?
I was a pretty spacey kid. I didn’t start talking to anyone outside the family until I was about 7. I spent a lot of time looking at things, like ants and plants, animals, patterns, clouds, stains, books. I made up stories and songs, and talked to myself a lot. I was an odd, quiet, shy child.
What books from your childhood have most influenced your work? What about adult titles?
For children’s books: Dr. Seuss books, Charlotte’s Web, The Little Prince, Harry the Dirty Dog (all the Harry books). Madeline, Black Beauty.
For adult books: Henrdrik Dorgathen, Space Dog. I love Saul Steinberg. Roald Dahl – I didn’t read him till I was an adult (I think). Same with Paul Rand. Billy Collins. David Foster Wallace, sadly, is one of my favorite authors. Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Milan Kundera, Lori Moore—I read a lot of fiction. Anything by Stanley Coren and Temple Grandin, Patricia McConnell. Anne Lamott and Sarah Silverman.
What are your hobbies and interests besides reading and books?
Poodles, poodles, poodles! I love my poodles. Health and nutrition. Dog behavior and teaching tricks and working with my dogs – good manners. For me - exercising (pilates and spin at a gym). I used to dance – ballet, tap and jazz. Gardening, if I had more time. I work a lot.
Who are a couple of your favorite author/illustrators? What is it about their work that inspires and interests you?
What one or two words of advice would you give for young authors/illustrators?
Draw and write what’s most fun to you, not what you think someone else wants.