Through Endangered Eyes


Yes, there is a great deal to howl about today!

I am honored to have as a guest to the blog, Rachel Dillon, the amazingly creative, poet and illustrator of the book, Through Endangered Eyes: A poetic journey into the wild.

Let me begin by introducing Rachel Dillon
~~


"Rachel Dillon was born and raised in Madison, Wisconsin. She attended the University of Wisconsin, Madison and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Art, emphasizing in Graphic Design. Outside of art, Dillon held a special interest in evolution and extinction and took several classes in paleontology, and geology. Her passion for animals grew as she learned more about endangered species."

As part of the Women on Writing celebration of Poetry Month, a blog tour was created for Rachel to help get the word out about her exciting new book. I was fortunate to be chosen as one of the blogs she visited!

So, without further adieu, let us begin our interview:


Linda:

Hi, Rachel! Happy National Poetry Month! It is an honor to have you be part of my month-long celebration of poetry. Congratulations on your beautiful new book, Through Endangered Eyes: A Poetic Journey into the Wild. I'm curious; who are the poets that have influenced your writing?



Rachel:

Most of the poetry that inspires me right now is found in children’s books. I love Dr. Seuss and his creative poetry, especially how he made up words to make things rhyme. Shel Silverstein is magical in his rhyming. One of my favorite books to read to my kids is by Julia Donaldson, called “Room on the Broom,” the story is told all in poetry, very clever and well done!

Linda:

The gallery of pictures in your book just takes my breath away. I am so intrigued by your art. Wisconsin is a long way from Australia! How did you come to use Australian Aboriginal dot painting?


Rachel:

My Aunt and Uncle are in Ulladula, Australia. My Aunt moved there over 40 years ago and married an Australian man. I took my first trip to Eastern Australia when I was seven years old. Going to such a faraway country was unique at a young age. My teacher made a big deal about my travels and I started to fall in love with Australia once I had been there. I went again when I was 16; and then when I was 19.



I was introduced to Aboriginal Acrylic Dot Painting in Canberra, the capital city of Australia in 1992. The colors, patterns and textures inspired me. When I returned home and started one of my art classes, I just had to try out the dot painting method. I went to the library to find books about Aboriginal Acrylic Dot Painting, and they were sparse. I couldn't figure out how they made dots so perfectly round, until I saw a picture of an Aboriginal man sitting under a tree, dipping a stick into paint. I flipped my paintbrush around and used the other end to create the dots I was looking for. The dots are raised and create a Braille-like texture to the paintings. The paintings for the book were done on 9" x 12"canvas board. Most paintings took me 8-12 hours to complete.

Linda:

You stated in the WOW (Women on Writing) interview that you began this book when your daughter was six months old. Could you tell our readers a bit about how you managed to juggle writing a book and caring for your daughter as well as managing all the other demands in your life? Do you have any tips for other writer moms?


Rachel:

Since I have become a mother, I have become creative with my time, and take any free time I can get. I am distracted more easily when I write versus when I paint, so I have to find a quiet place to concentrate. Sometimes, I couldn’t be picky. I wrote many of the first drafts of my poems for my book while I drove to and from work and daycare. My favorite place to write is outside. But, most of the time, I write late at night after the kids go to bed.

For my painting process, I mix my paint for a new piece in containers so that I don’t need to repeatedly mix my colors. This allows me to paint for shorter periods of time. I don’t mind minor distractions when I paint. In fact, I love having my kids watch me paint, because it is important for them to experience the process.

I make time to paint and write because I understand how important it is to me. I feel that if I show my kids that it’s important to make time to do what you love, then maybe they will do the same for themselves as they grow up.

Linda:

Selling yourself, as well as your manuscript can be daunting to a writer. What assisted you in getting your manuscript accepted (twice!)? How did you choose who to send it to?

Rachel:

I started shopping for a publisher in 2003. I sat down for an entire weekend with the Children’s Writer and Illustrators Market guide. I read every publisher’s information in that book and chose about 15 publishers whose submission criteria I met. The first round I only submitted to four publishers. All the publishers I submitted to: accepted unsolicited manuscripts; approved of an author that was an illustrator; wanted non-fiction for children; and each year they were devoted to publishing a first time author.

Stemmer House was the first to give me a contract, and then they dropped my contract in 2007 when a new editor came on board. I went through the process all over again and this time I submitted to 14 publishers. Finney Company contacted me in 2008, and I signed a contract with them. Within a year my book was completed. It was a roller coaster, to say the least!

Linda:

The intro to this blog states, “Words are power...” The words in your book have a great deal of power...to enlighten, to challenge, to inform and to nurture. How does your book speak to the reader about endangered species?



Rachel:

When I sat down to write a poem about an animal, I read all of the factual information first. I picked out unique and interesting qualities about the species and created the poem from there. I don’t sugar coat the fact that these species are in trouble and need help. I think it is important to get my audience amazed by how special animals are to the balance of the earth. These species are rare and I think if people feel connected to something they will really want to help.


Many children hear of a problem and have instant hope that they can fix it. I want people to feel hope that things can change, even though the work ahead of us will be challenging.


Linda:

I read that you are beginning a new book Through Desert Eyes. How do you do your research for creating the pictures of these animals as well as writing the poems?


Rachel:

For my next book, I am going to try to use as many of my own photographs of the animals as references for my paintings. I have many photos of animals, but mostly in zoos. Those species I can’t photograph myself, I will purchase stock photography to work from.


I want to start contacting people that might specialize in desert species to gather my factual information. I have relied on the Internet for most of my facts, it would be nice to actually talk to people that really know a species.

Linda:

You added pages for parents and teachers to your book. What type of information might they find there?


Rachel:

I wanted to add more than the facts in the back of the book. I enclosed a list of conservation groups, in case someone was looking to make a donation to help. I really believe that it is important to teach children at a young age to donate a percentage of their earnings to help something outside of themselves. I also have a list of activities parents might like to do with their child that continues to increase a child’s awareness of endangered species. The activities range from making a list of endangered species in zoo to making a scrapbook of them from magazine clippings or photographs you take.


For teachers there are several lesson plan ideas in the subjects of writing, science, math and art. My mother-in-law is a retired elementary school teacher and she helped me create a list of activities for children in classrooms.


Linda:

Finally, is there anything special you would like to share with our readers during our celebration of National Poetry Month?


Rachel:

Keep writing! Poetry is a beautiful form of expression! Thank you for having me on your blog, I truly appreciate it!


Many thanks to Rachel Dillon, all the wonderfully, wild women at WOW! and to my beloved Roger, who supports and celebrates all my writing endeavors.

Namaste!

Comments

Anonymous said…
Hope it's okay for a member of the more hobbled sex to comment on WOW... but just in case I'll keep it short: Bravo. Ken
Anonymous said…
Really thoughtful interview, learned a lot! Bridget
Hi Linda & Rachel,

I grew up on Dr. Seuss. His words often bounced off the pages of my life.

Writing is an arduous process and I am just happy that you are both able to share the gifts of prose.

Thank you both for an enlightening piece.
Wendy Helmer said…
Wow the artwork is phenomenal. I had never heard of aboriginal dot painting. I love her story about seeing the man creating drops of paint with a stick and she just turned over the paintbrush and now she has created these beautiful pictures. Now I'm inspired to read her poetry that goes along with the artwork.
Elizabeth said…
I think it's interesting that Rachel Dillon has linked her artwork with poems. It seems like painting is a more natural process for her than writing. I felt that her paintings stood alone in their ability to create empathy for these endangered animals. So, I am interested to see what impact her poems have coupled with the paintings. Great interview Mom...I'm interested to check out Rachel's books. Love you, Lizzy
Ken- thanks for taking a chance and leaving a comment! I appreciate it!

Tabitha and Bridget - thanks for stopping by:)

Alexys - I think one of my favorite Dr. Seuss's is "Oh the places you'll go." I think I teared up when I read that one the first time. His tounge twister books always leave my kids in giggles, and they are such fun to read:)

Wendy & Elizabeth - should you get the book, will you let me know your thoughts on the poetry? I am very curious to hear your responses! My blog is throughendangeredeyes.blogspot.com.

Thank you all for taking the time to comment and I am lucky to be able to visit Linda's wonderful site.
Amparo GarcĂ­a said…
Lovely paintings! I will try to get one of your books here in Spain and read you!

If you write as well as you paint... great job!!!
Amparo.
River Studios said…
Beautiful work! I'm intrigued to pick up a copy. Great job with the interview, Linda! You definitely hit on some topics for writers interested in getting published. Thanks and best wishes to the both of you!!
Linda said…
Ken, Tabitha, and Bridget...thank you for visiting this post and commenting.

Alexys, Like Rachel, I read Dr. Seuss to my girls and now my grandgirls. When I finally graduated from college (It took me 30 years!) I was given the book Rachel speaks about...I too was in tears at the end. For all the humor, Dr. Seuss left us with some very good messages about life.

Wendy, Elizabeth, Amparo, & River Studios...your comments are so insightful. Yes, the art is wonderful and (I have read a couple of the poems) the writing enhances the illustrations as much as the illustrations enhance the writing. In addition, the pages for teachers and parents give wonderful links and resources for further investigation into the subject. I cannot wait to see Rachel's next book "Through Desert Eyes"!

I hope you all have the opportunity to read this book. Please share your delight with your friends and family. Thanks for being part of our blog tour.
Anonymous said…
Hello Linda and Rachel,
A fullfilling interview with lots of great information I want to learn more about especially about the art. Im a teacher and would love to explore "Dot painting" and introduce it to my students. I cant wait to read more.
MaryAnn
jbarry said…
What a brilliant artist Rachel is! I have never seen Aboriginal Dot Painting before and now that I have, I like it and hope to experience more in the future. Thank you for sharing this wonderful artist and poet with us.
Anonymous said…
Wow!!
Rachel, the art alone is a heart stopper. If this were available at the time that I was in a classroom teaching, kids would have had it in hand often and long. There is so much to see!

Then in the poems there is so much to say!!

Thanks for explaining your process. It is helpful for children to know. Today I will be part of a team introducing an afterschool poetry writing adventure and now I know what we are going to try!

Every child I know has an animal that he/she dotes on for some reason. Those special creatures can become the characters in the poems today and the art can accompany the words.

Linda, thank you! This is a poetry plus moment for me because of your efforts. thanks for including all of us in the enjoyment of this blog space!

More later, ladies, after the writing club meets today!

Sharon Edwards
Linda said…
Many thanks, MaryAnn, JBarry and Sharon, for your wonderful and thoughtful comments.

I am so excited that I was able to be the channel by which teachers are able to experience Rachel's work. I knew they would love it and find great inspiration.

I look forward to hearing from those who incorporate this book in their curriculum.
Anonymous said…
I've just returned from a lovely trip north; 4 bum numbing hours in the car. What a great treat to read through this blog. I thoroughly enjoyed the interview of Rachel Dillon. Linda asks great questions and Rachels great passion for wildlife spoke to my heart. Thank you Linda for sharing Rachel with us and for your insights as well. Peg
Anonymous said…
Excellent interview. I really enjoyed Rachel's art and her advise about getting published and finding time to write. Thoughtful and interesting questions, Linda. Thanks to you both. Mich
Amparo – thank you so much for your comment and having it there in Spain would be wonderful!

River Studios, JBarry, Peg and Mich – thanks for taking the time to leave a comment!

MaryAnn – I will make sure to add some video of my painting technique on my Web site (racheldillon.com), very soon! I hope within the next couple of weeks at least. What I recommend is to get tempura paint or acrylic paint, use the end of the paint brush without the brush. I dip and dot. I usually get about three dots per dip. Start with lines of paint and some circles to get the technique down. I have done dot painting with a first grade class, and many get impatient, but there are also several that are focused and love the process.

Sharon – how wonderful you are going to work with kids in an afterschool group to do poetry with. You should post some of their poems that came out of the experience!
Liara Covert said…
This sounds like a simply wonderful book. If you believe in synchrony, then you realize that coincidence does not exist. Events in your life string themselves together based on your life experience and unseen connections. Readers enjoy learning about how an author goes through a process of realisation. As is suggested here, its all about living, loving what you do and learning every step of the way. A book knows it will materializae long before it is written. As formless energy, it awaits patiently to inspire a prospective writer in the form of thought. One thing leads to another and a physical process unfolds. Thanks for sharing this!
Linda said…
Liara,

Thank you for your most thought-filled comment. I do believe in synchronism...there are no coincidents.

When I write poetry, there are many times when I feel as if the poem has been there and just comes flowing out of my fingers onto the paper. I don't think, I simply write. It is a magical experience.
Liara and Linda - simply beautiful! You captured in words precisely what I feel.
reenie said…
As I've always said Linda, 'your words are magic"....
The interview was very insightful and informative. Your dreams are coming true and this "only the beginning"!
Linda said…
Dear Reenie,

Thank you so much for posting! You are always such a champion for me and my endeavors. I am blessed to have you as my sister/friend.

Love you! L
Kathleen said…
Sorry I didn't post sooner. I love the artwork. I never could quite master pointelism. I'm not sure how to spell that. But her ability to create characters with little dots of color is outstanding and I am sure small children would love to read her books. Love you!

-K
p.s. Very professional interview! hehe
Anonymous said…
I love the paintings, such a unique use of the Aboriginal Dot technique! Well done!

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