Interview and Apartment Art

There is a very, very kind interview with me on the SCBWI website here.

If you read it, or if you're finding this blog from it, the subway-card butterflies are worth explaining in more detail. Lori asked me if I had any hobbies, and I said yes, I like to make art out of subway fare cards, which in NYC are called MetroCards. MetroCards are made from a thin, flexible plastic that keeps its shape if you bend it -- I make the butterflies by folding the cards in half and cutting out a butterfly wing from the fold, then balancing the butterfly on the fold with tape. There are six of them (plus a dragonfly) perched around my apartment, and they really do look like they could take off any moment. . . .

As for the mural, I missed trees after I moved to New York, so I bought green and brown paper at a nearby stationery store and created my own forest on the wall of my studio apartment. (This picture was taken on a day when I was having my book group over for dinner, hence the highly unusual neatness.) I love Henri Matisse, and the far tree on the left is made from cut-paper shapes like the collages he created at the end of his life -- I'd love to redo the whole mural this way (it's nearly four years old now), but I haven't had time to work on it. (In passing, many, many manuscripts have been edited or read in that big yellow chair.) There's a bright red kite with a MetroCard star on the next tree from the left; a bird cut from a NYC subway map on the rectangular tree in the middle; Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 nailed to the trunk of the next tree over, inspired by "As You Like It" (though I replace it with "Since there's no help" when I'm feeling romantically depressed); and an origami cicada and a MetroCard canary on the tree on the right. And then there are paper and MetroCard flowers, apples, vines, stars, even a snake (because this is a garden) in odd and unexpected places around the rest of the apartment. The installation as a whole is called "Brooklyn Arden," whence also the name of this blog.

This is what I said to Lori about it: "The artwork in my apartment is all intuitive, but there ends up being a kind of rhythm and balance to it -- I have stars here so I need flowers there, MetroCards here so I need paper there -- in much the same way I try to figure out a manuscript's rhythm and balance, I'll say, to bring this back to editing. This will sound completely cheesy, but in both things I want to have beauty and life and joy." And it's true.