In the Spotlight :: Roxie Munro

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I met Roxie Munro through Karen Robertson’s eBook What is a Book App and Could YOU Create One? How 27 Writers Did! where she and I (and 25 other authors) wrote about our journey as a children’s storybook authors. This group of authors connect weekly with emails to let one another know about what is happening with their apps or books, radio or TV spots featuring their books and is a great group of authors who support one another.  Some have been published with traditional publishing houses and yet others have taken the indie author route.

Roxie is the author/illustrator of more than 35 books for children and recent apps include:”Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure,” an interactive game app, and the 3-D app, “Roxie’s DOORS.” Out Fall 2013: K.W.I.i.StoryBooks (Kids Interactive Walk-in Story Books), with ten AR apps. Out August 2013: Slithery Snakes. Fourteen of her paintings have been published as covers of “The New Yorker” magazine.  Quite a large body of work I must say!  I am still working on getting my third book and app finished up so I know who much work this has been for her.  We had a chance to speak about her journey as a writer and illustrator and where she finds inspiration for her stories.

 

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Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?

Actually, I always knew I would be an artist – writing came later. At the age of 6, I won 1st prize in a county-wide art show (a pastel of a bowl of fruit), and had my picture in the paper with the painting. Encouraged by my parents (my sister, Ann Munro Wood, is also a professional artist), I went on to be the class artist, spent seven years at four universities studying art, and have freelanced all my life. When I started doing children’s books, my editors encouraged me to write them also.

Where do you find the inspiration for your children’s stories?

The idea for the first children’s book: I had just sold my first New Yorker cover and moved to New York City from Washington DC. Every day I spent many hours exploring the city. Looking for freelance work, I met with a children’s book editor, who suggested I come up with an idea. A week later, woke up at 7AM…before my eyes opened, I saw in red letters the words: “The Inside-Outside Book of New York City.” I called her, and said, “I have a weird title for a book.” I knew little about making books, but it won the “New York Times” Best Illustrated Award  and was a TIME magazine Best Children’s Book. Eventually, I did a series of seven Inside-Outside books

One day, on a school visit, a 4th grade boy asked me about the Flatiron building in the Inside-Outside Book of NYC…I started to talk about the full-page image in the book. “No,” he said, “I mean the other Flatiron Building.” I realized he meant the one in the gutter of the title pages – the whole southern half of Manhattan is depicted. The Flatiron is less than an inch high. I have never forgotten that – how children see the details. Talking later with elementary school librarians, I mentioned his comment. One said, that, given my love of detail and pattern, I should do something like Where’s Waldo. But at that time, I didn’t have an idea.

A few years ago I started thinking about how a book based upon a maze could work. I didn’t want it to be schematic or cartoon-like, like so many of the paperback activity books, but more real, illustrative – each detail different, not a formula. I went on to have five real life maze books published. Besides solving the maze, there are other game elements – counting, naming, finding, ABCs, hidden objects…

Then, I had an idea called Doors, developing out of the Inside-Outside books.  One day, my editor suggested something more interactive. Thirty minutes after hearing her word “interactive,” I had created a tiny 2”x3” dummy with taped-on doors…a lift-the-flap idea. After that, I published three more paper-engineered books.

So, creation develops in a sort of logical way out of previous work; none of these would come into being without the earlier books. A lot of creative work evolves this way…. you go through the processes, graduate into ideas. Creativity doesn’t always come on demand – often ideas happen and problems are solved after you have been thinking about or playing with concepts for some time. They don’t just pop into your mind without being nurtured along the way consciously or not. It is the culmination, a pulling together, of other ideas explored in one’s work… a progression.  Each creation builds upon the ones that have gone before. The aha!!, the idea, is almost an end, as well as a beginning.

And out of my print books have come apps, created by the excellent developer, OCG Studios. The 5-player animated game app, “Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure” , has original commissioned music, sounds, counting and finding games, and more. It doesn’t require English, so is ranked daily in about 55 countries. “Roxie’s Doors” is a 3-D animated storybook app, a direct book-to-app conversion from the lift-the-flap Doors book. It has word highlighting, search-n-find, music, sounds, and narration. They’ve both received lots of 5 stars, some awards, are on Best Lists, and so on…

 

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What is one of your favorite comments a child or mom has said about one of your books?

On one elementary school visit, after the program and Q&A, the teacher came up with a child, and said, “Ellen didn’t have a chance to ask her question.”

So I said, “What would you like to know?”

“How do you make them so pretty?” she asked.

I choked up… kept a post-it with her question on it on my studio wall for years.

 

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Any news you want to share with Penelope’s mates?

Sure! My latest nonfiction print book, Slithery Snakes (Two Lions/Amazon Children’s Books), was published August 6. In September, my third app with the excellent developer, OCG Studios, will be out  (“Roxie’s Puzzle Maze,” multiple jigsaw puzzles plus the maze game). And then in October, K.I.W.i.StoryBooks (kids interactive walk-in story books) with ten AR (augmented reality) interactive educational apps made by OCG Studios will be launched. Check out my website: www.roxiemunro.com/

Links:

OCG Studios: http://www.ocgstudios.com/

Roxie’s a-MAZE-ing Vacation Adventure: http://www.ocgstudios.com/roxies-a-maze-ing-vacation-adventure/roxies-a-maze-ing-vacation-adventure-info/

Roxie’s Doors: http://www.ocgstudios.com/roxies-doors/

K.I.W.iStoryBooks: http://www.kiwistorybooks.com/index.html

Slithery Snakes: http://www.amazon.com/Slithery-Snakes-Roxie-Munro/dp/1477816585/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1376771992&sr=8-1&keywords=slithery+snakes Roxie’s website: http://www.roxiemunro.com/

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