Today, I’m thrilled to feature an encouraging interview with author and illustrator Daniel Miyares! We discuss how hope and artistic work–writing and illustrating–connect. He also shares a little about his forthcoming picture book, Hope at Sea: An Adventure Story, which was reviewed on my blog this week (Spoiler: it is so, so timely and incredible).
First, a little about Daniel:
Daniel Miyares is a critically acclaimed picture book author and illustrator. Some of his books include: Float, Night Out, That is My Dream, and Bring Me A Rock!. Daniel has been called “…a master of visual storytelling.”– Jody Hewston, Kinderlit, and “…enchanting, versatile” – The New York Times. He believes that our stories have the power to connect us all. Daniel’s story currently takes place in Lenexa, KS with his wife, their two wonderful children, and a dog named Violet that gives them all a run for their money.
Some of his partners have included: Schwartz & Wade Books, Chronicle Books, Candlewick Press, Simon & Schuster BFYR, Nancy Paulsen Books, FSG (BYR), North/South Books, Charlesbridge Publishing, The NY Times.
Lindsay: Thank you for chatting with me today, Daniel—it is a joy to connect with you! Your upcoming book Hope At Sea: An Adventure Story centers on the idea of hope. Can you share about how hope and artistic work—such as writing and illustrating—relate?
Daniel Miyares: First off, thank you so much for the chance to share Lindsay! It’s an honor and a pleasure.
If I think back to my childhood, hope has always been an important theme to me. Truthfully there’ve been plenty of times in my life when I couldn’t see the way forward and a sense of hope in the future was the only thing to bridge that gap.
Making pictures began for me as everything except a way to make a living. It was how I tried to understand the world around me. It was a place I could retreat to when I needed a hideout. It was my voice when I didn’t feel heard. Eventually I realized that I could tell stories with my pictures, and those stories could speak all sorts of things out into the world – with hope being one of them.
Deciding to express yourself in an extremely personal way like writing or illustrating is a radically hopeful thing to do in my opinion. The risk is very high of things not turning out the way you thought they would or someone judging what you’ve made. It takes a great deal of courage but also a belief that you can make something out of almost nothing. If that’s not a pursuit of hope, I don’t know what is.
In my new picture book Hope At Sea: An Adventure Story, I wanted to explore the questions of what do we do when the storms of life come? And where can we find hope in the midst of those storms? It just so happened that I was working on this book throughout 2020. It felt as though I needed to wrestle with those questions, because me, my family, and the rest of the world were all right in the middle of a giant storm. Making this book encouraged me when I needed it the most and I hope that maybe it can do the same for others.
Lindsay: Personally, I do find Hope at Sea: An Adventure Story to be immensely encouraging. As both an author and illustrator, do you find one of these areas of work comes more naturally to you than the other? For instance, which comes to your mind first: the text or the illustration; does one build off the other?
Daniel Miyares: Well, I know that I was drawing pictures before I could write my name. The visual language is so universal. I think I do gravitate towards visual storytelling first, but what I love about making books is that it requires that unique bond between words and pictures. When I’m working on stories I usually explore both at the same time. Some stories unfold in visual moments initially that need to be drawn out, while others begin as a conversation that needs to be written. Sketch books have been wonderful tools for me to explore my visual and written voice at the same time. As soon as I claim to have a tried and true way of working though, a story comes along and demands that I find another way. I try to keep an open mind.
I find myself writing more now than I used to. I’m not sure if this is fair to say, but writing has a way of clarifying my thoughts while drawing seems to expand them. Both are critical for my creative process.
Lindsay:Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing your insights, Daniel.
You can find more about Daniel Miyares and connect with him at the following links: