Author Interview: Andrea Beaty

September 12, 2011

Iggy Peck, Architect has stolen my heart. It’s a story about a little guy who’s never been afraid of building his dreams…until he meets his second grade teacher. Every word is memorable, every page frame-able, and Iggy’s parents are drop-dead chic. I don’t want to give away the ending, but I promise your heart will swell on the second-to-last page.

I’m such a fan of this book and author, Andrea Beaty, even more so since she agreed to lend her clever words to Design Mom. There’s just so much goodness in her thoughts. Enjoy!

Q: I love how design-minded Iggy Peck is from such an early age. What were your earliest hopes of who you wanted to become?

A: I was always torn between becoming a spy and a detective. I was a major Nancy Drew fan and had elaborate daydreams about driving the countryside in my convertible with my chums, Bess and George. Well, mostly George. I always thought Bess was an annoying weenie.

Were your parents as supportive — and as stylish! — as Iggy Peck’s?

My parents never told me or my siblings what we could/couldn’t become and they instilled an enormous sense of curiosity and wonder and hard work in us. They were not fancy people. My father was a coal miner and my mother a stay-at-home mom turned historian and librarian. For a time, we ran a small grocery store in a tiny town exactly like the one in Cicada Summer.

My parents were comfortable being themselves and honestly, what could possibly be more stylish than that?

Miss Lila Greer turned out to be a pretty wonderful teacher in the end, but it was touch and go there for a while! What advice would you give to those of us with our own Miss Lila Greers standing in the way of our dreams?

There are some people like Iggy and Ted who have such confidence in their dreams they are oblivious to naysayers. For the rest of us, it’s hard to keep from becoming discouraged by people who don’t get what we’re trying to do. It is especially hard when they are nice or kind or helpful or well-intentioned or in a place of authority. I try to remember that people can be kind and still be clueless. These characteristics are not mutually exclusive. Then, I try my best not to take it personally. I find that if you keep at it long enough, they eventually get a clue or at least acknowledge that your passion is legitimate. Even if they don’t understand it.

Where do you write?

During the summer and fall, I write in my “studio” which is a pop-up camper in the yard. It’s almost like writing outside without the bugs. The rest of the year, I write in my office in the basement of my house. Above my desk is a Doctor Who calendar, a fabulous illustration of a cyberman battle created by my terrific birthday twin, Ryan, and a vintage postcard of Queen Elizabeth II. I think she and my mother looked much alike when they were in their twenties. Though I have come close, I have never ever successfully cleaned my office. Maybe next year. Or not.

When is your favorite time of day to write?

I like to write in the morning before the day’s must-get-dones set in. I don’t always succeed, but I find that is the most fruitful time for me to write.

If you could travel anywhere in the world tomorrow to research a book idea, where would you go?

I have a list as long as my arm, but at the top of the list is Great Britain. I’m a big fan of all things British. I was raised in a very tiny village (300 people) and had only 3 television stations, the strongest of which was the local public broadcasting station. We spent our days tromping barefoot through the fields like wild children, but every Sunday night, we gathered for Masterpiece Theater.

If you could live inside one book you’ve written, which would it be?

When Giants Come to Play. It would be magical to be tossed above a gnarled oak tree by a pair of gentle giants.

First book that broke your heart…

The House at Pooh Corner.

Your daydreams are illustrated by…

Andrew Wyeth.

Your no-fail cure for writer’s block…

There’s a cure?

So…what dream are you building tomorrow?

At the moment, I’m consumed with getting my kids into/out of college and into their adult lives. It’s a great adventure. Writing-wise, I’m toying with an adult novel and have three or four mid-grade stories elbowing each other for brain space. My next picture book, Artist Ted, is coming out in February. It’s the next adventure in the Ted series. Fans of Iggy might also enjoy Ted. He’s passionate and he is so funny.

Didn’t her words make you happy? Thank you, Andrea! My favorite answer was this one: My parents were comfortable being themselves and honestly, what could possibly be more stylish than that? It’s a lovely reminder, isn’t it?

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 wordplayhouse™ September 12, 2011 at 5:55 am

Thank you for sharing Andrea Beaty’s stylish work. It’s fun to see how others spend their creative days.


2 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:07 am

I agree. I love learning about the lives of creative people.


3 Linda Lodding September 12, 2011 at 6:03 am

I’ve always been an Iggy fan. And now I’m an Andrea fan! Thanks for such a wonderful interview — great Q’s AND A’s!


4 robyn September 12, 2011 at 6:43 am

we got this book for my nephew when he was little (maybe one?), and it was reported as a huge hit. for some reason though, i keep forgetting to put it on our own library list.


5 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:07 am

I hear you. I can’t believe I only just discovered it! It’s such a good one.


6 Cari September 12, 2011 at 6:44 am

We recently found this book at the library and I had the same reaction–wanting to frame every page! Love the Mom! Thanks for this interview.


7 Emily Wylie September 12, 2011 at 7:47 am

Iggy Peck has a special place in my heart, since it was given to my son by his SEIT (special education itinerant teacher), a woman who came, Mary-Poppins-like, to our rescue after a long year in which we went through the scary process of “Evaluation” with our lovely 3 1/2 year old boy who was having trouble in preschool. Serena came to work with my son 3 days a week, helping him figure out how to be in that classroom of busy, busy, sophisticated-seeming peers, always honoring first how HE thought and what HE was trying to do, and then helping him do it. Iggy Peck came home in my boy’s backpack on his birthday last year, and we of course all “got” the message, and my son loved it instantly. So thanks Design Mom for introducing it here, and thanks so much Andrea for writing it!


8 Design Mom September 12, 2011 at 7:58 am

Such a great story, Emily! Sweet as can be.


9 Sara September 12, 2011 at 10:15 am

What a wonderful new feature!! Love the idea and this interview was so wonderful and inspiring. I always enjoy a glimpse into the “real life” and inspiration of creative people. Her books are going on my wish list!


10 megwrites September 12, 2011 at 10:22 am

I always wanted to be Nancy Drew, too. *sigh*


11 Ayme September 12, 2011 at 10:55 am

What a clever idea, Gabby! I love all the different parts of your blog and this author series is no exception. Great interview questions, too! I’ll have to add this book to my wish list.


12 ali September 12, 2011 at 11:00 am

Iggy Peck is our very, very favorite book! I absolutely love every single thing about it. Thanks for the sharing this great interview.


13 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 5:59 am

Yay for Iggy!


14 Kate The Great September 12, 2011 at 11:18 am

I appreciate Andrea’s sentiment that you just have to keep going toward what you love even when you’re misunderstood.

I’m encountering that now. We’re just starting the process of buying a house. I’ve found a realtor, but when I told her that one of the most important things for me in a house is its proximity to bus routes and its walkability with strollers and kids, she just sputtered and gave me a negative response along the lines of, “Well, I can’t possibly look at bus routes and houses can’t possibly conform to them.”

I haven’t met her in person yet, but I hope I can instill in her that it really is important to me. I feel trapped and isolated if I can’t easily get to a frequent bus route; I depend on the bus for errands, outings and real-life shopping. Sidewalks are a must for me. If she continues to be ignorant, I’ll have to find a new realtor who understands.


15 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 5:58 am

Best of luck on your house hunt, Kate!


16 Laura Gaskill September 12, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Wonderful! I love the new series, and look forward to seeing more author interviews! I had not read Andrea Beaty before, so this is great – always a treat to discover a new children’s writer to love :) xo


17 Lindsay September 12, 2011 at 2:29 pm

I was so excited to see you interviewed Andrea! I got to sit next to her at a children’s literature conference a few years ago and she was just the nicest person in the world. I pull out my signed copy of Doctor Ted all the time when my niece and nephew visit! I’ll have to go read Iggy now. So happy right now!


18 Amanda September 12, 2011 at 2:59 pm

I love Iggy Peck! I was the summer reading club coordinator for my local library for three summers and I read it to the kids; they loved it!


19 Melissa@Julia's Bookbag September 12, 2011 at 6:27 pm

That was lovely Gabrielle! As a die-hard kid lit lover, I am so excited about this series!


20 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 5:58 am

Yay! I’m so glad. I’m excited too!


21 Ann September 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I am excited to get this book and read it with my boys. I love the illustrations. That Pucciesque dress reminds me of Jackie O!


22 Angela September 12, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Just bought the book on amazon for my nephew, whose name happens to be Iggy!


23 Design Mom September 13, 2011 at 5:57 am

How fun! I’m sure it will be his new favorite book.


24 Kelly September 12, 2011 at 10:15 pm

Yes, her words made me very happy! I’m looking forward to getting ahold of this book and reading it to my little guy. I’m so happy you’ll be doing this series and look forward to the next installment.


25 Heather September 13, 2011 at 8:35 am

Great idea, Gabrielle! Thank you for bringing these creative minds to our table.
Love love love Iggy Peck & When Giants Come to Play! Thank you Andrea Beaty for such clever stories!


26 Anna Kitchens-Culp September 13, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I so enjoyed this interview! As a lover and blogger of picture book topics, it was a real treat to “meet” Andrea Beaty.


27 Natalie September 13, 2011 at 7:59 pm

thanks for this! i just put a bunch of her stuff on hold at the library…can’t wait to check it out!


28 Lola October 2, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I love this new series – excellent inspiration for some less well-known book purchases, and it’s fun to see how everyone’s creativity just works so differently. And I promise Britain is as fabulous as you’re dreaming it is, Andrea Beaty!


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