The Playground Diaries Interview with Darla Duvall
Darla Duvall, an up and coming author from Columbus, Nebraska, wants children around the world to know that the more questions they ask the better! In Duvall’s soon-to-be published book Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes, Charlie, the main character, asks his “mum” all of the silly and mind-boggling questions children tend to come up with. Having two beautiful children of her own, Duvall knows first hand all about the eccentric things that kids can say.
While studying Children’s Literature in college, pursuing an Early Childhood Education degree, she took an interest in children’s books. “I was always intrigued by the authors and illustrators freedom to just explore their own imaginations and run with it. I just knew someday I wanted to write my own children’s book” said Duvall in her interview with Playground Diaries. The book has a tentative release date of Spring, 2013. In the meantime, enjoy this interview with Darla Duvall and look for her book next year!
Playground Diaries: We’ve read the manuscript of Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes and the concept behind your book is so whimsical and kid-friendly. It would seem like you’ve written for children before. Have you?
Darla Duvall: No, I have not written for children before. However, I have been writing poems the past couple of years for friends and families. Also, writing in high school and college was my absolute favorite. I have decided that this is really only the beginning. I will be writing a series in which Charlie, Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes main character, will be the focus, instead of the Ladybird.
PD: What inspired you to write, Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes?
DD: While studying children’s literature in college, and pursuing an Early Childhood Education degree, I took a real interest in children’s books. I was always intrigued by the authors and illustrators freedom to explore their own imagination and run with it. I knew someday I wanted to write my own children’s book. However, I also knew that since I was not an acclaimed author it would take a muse to get me there.
So here I am, 15 years later, vacationing in Mexico with some good friends of mine, Mark and Val. One morning over breakfast, Val and I were discussing the cute and silly things that kids say. She mentioned that when Mark was a little boy (Mark is from England by the way), he used to ask his mom, “Hey mum, do ladybirds have eyelashes?” This was it. This was the moment I had waited for. Not only did it sound like a title to a children’s book, it was one of the cutest stories I had ever heard. I was just picturing this little red-haired, freckled face, fair-skinned boy tugging on his mum’s apron following her around the house, always asking her, “Hey mum, do ladybirds have eyelashes?” Being the impatient person that I am, I knew that I needed to get started immediately. I grabbed the hotel pad of paper, sat next to the pool, and went to town. I did not even have to think about where to start, and my pen could not write fast enough…It was this absolute explosion of thoughts and ideas and I had a permanent smile stuck on my face. Just one short hour and a sunburn later, Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes was completed.
PD: Do you have a specific process of writing?
DD: I wouldn’t necessarily say that I have a “specific” process of writing, however, rhyming is by far my favorite. I am an absolute out-the-box thinker and I love creating fun and crazy type scenarios and making the words rhyme. I feel it makes for the most fun kind of reading for children.
PD: Is there a distinct message that you’re trying to convey through your book?
DD: By far, the message that I am trying to convey in this book is a child’s freedom to just let their minds roll all over the place. The world is so big and complicated, of course kids are always going to have questions. Being a parent myself of two small and very curious little boys I have to listen to all of their funny, crazy, insane, curious, and innocent questions about life, the universe, the sky, our bodies daily. It’s that freedom for kids to not just lie in bed at night and try to figure out things themselves, but to know that it is ok to just ASK! It certainly makes for the funniest conversations, at least in my house. So freedom; freedom for a child to voice their imagination and curiosity; that’s my message!
PD: The word on the street is you have a family member illustrating your book. Have you two been collaborating on what kind of illustrations you’re interested in or have you given them free rein to design?
DD: That is an interesting question. If anyone really knows me, they would know that I am kind of a control freak about most things. I am even shocked myself that I have given free rein to my husband’s cousin, Mikey Gardner, to illustrate this book (Whom I must add is an amazing artist and illustrator). I just feel that it is not my place to tell him how to illustrate. I feel most success comes from people who bring their very own personal creativity to the table. I believe that makes for a truly amazing outcome.
PD: We know that Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes is not yet published—Can we expect a date for it to be on the shelves?
DD: YESTERDAY… I wish!! Ha! That is an even funnier question, going back to that controlling thing; I will not tell my illustrator how to sketch, however, I wish I could tell him how fast to go and when not to put down his pencils! My true and realistic goal is to have Do Ladybirds Have Eyelashes in print no later than Spring of 2013!