A Chat with James Ransome

If you are familiar with children’s literature at all, you certainly recognize James Ransome as one of today’s leading illustrators.  Known for his award-winning work, Mr. Ransome has illustrated over thirty books for children, including Uncle Jed’s Barbershop, The Creation, and Sweet Clara and the Freedom Quilt

Today I am extremely pleased to share with you an interview with Mr. Ransome discussing his latest book:  Gunner, Football Hero–THIS time as both the AUTHOR and illustrator.   

What inspired you to write Gunner, Football Hero

JR Because I’m a big football fan,conversations about football, winning and losing, which teams are good often come up during school visits when chatting with students.  I was always surprised at how important winning was for these young people. So I wanted to write a story which would help kids understand empathy for other kids; that there are probably kids on the other sideline who have an equally fervent desire to win.

How long did this book take to complete? 

JR The illustrations took about 3 months.  Writing probably took the same amount of time, but I wrote it probably about a year or two before I could illustrate it.

 As a successful illustrator, how different was the writing process?

JR It was actually a fun distraction from painting.  At that time, I was writing on Saturday mornings.  It was something totally different from working on pictures. The story literally just spilled out of me.

What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you? 

JR  Trying to include all the things I wanted to say and yet not have the text run on.

What was most surprising? 

JR  Just how ideas come to you.  I was writing the book, not knowing how I was going to resolve the surprise I wanted to have at the end, and then it just came to me.

Describe your work schedule as a writer compared to that of an illustrator.  

JR  I used to write on Saturday mornings and also while riding on the train to Syracuse University (which is four hours there and back) so I was basically uninterrupted.

Do you have any suggestions for aspiring children’s book writers? 

JR Read lots of childrens’ books.  Join a group (SCBWI has many chapters all over the country).  Writing is only one part of the job.  Finding a publisher is probably the more difficult part.

For more information on James Ransome, his books, or to schedule a school visit, check out his website at www.jamesransome.com

A big thank-you to James Ransome for taking the time to answer these questions. 


2 responses to this post.

  1. Great interview, Mrs. WS.

    Oh, how I wish I were an illustrator AND a writer!

    See you in Feb. at Write2Ignite!



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