Friday, January 28, 2011

Author Spotlight: Author Amy Timberlake, and Author + Illustrator Adam Rex

Amy Timberlake comes from a storytelling family who put just as much importance on listening to a tale, as they did to telling it:

"On my dad's side of the family," she says, "there was a respect for letting a person tell a story in their own style (and, by the way, style and elaboration were appreciated). You did not interrupt, even if a person spoke for a good 20 minutes."

It was one particular tale which her grandfather used to tell, which came from a true story her great-grandfather used to tell, which he supposedly told to a New Mexico newspaper, that gave her the spark for what eventually became her first picture book. The original story (or something close to it) takes up one short paragraph. But Amy Timberlake took that story and fleshed it out some, and wrestled with it some, and between her and illustrator Adam Rex, they stretched that short tale into a tall one: The Dirty Cowboy, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003).

Since then, Ms Timberlake has gone on to write a middle grade novel, That Girl Lucy Moon (Hyperion, 2006), and has a third title in the works with Knopf, tentatively titled Pigeon-Shot, with a possible release date of 2012.

Ms Timberlake is a member of the Illinois chapter of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). She has taught writing at the Visual Arts Center in Richmond, VA, and at the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she also received a M.A. in English/Creative Writing. She has been a book reviewer and columnist, a book event coordinator, the Public Information Officer at the Virginia Commission for the Arts, and a children's bookseller. She has also worked for the Chicago Botanic Garden.

Amy Timberlake grew up in Hudson, Wisconsin, and now lives with her husband in Chicago, Illinois.

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Growing up in  Phoenix, Arizona, Adam Rex saw his older brother as "the smart one," and his younger sister as "the cute one," but he saw himself as "the one who could draw." So, he took a lot of art classes, hoping to improve his drawing skills. Then, when he was 11, he began painting. From there, he went on later to receive a BFA from the University of Arizona.

He used his talents to produce illustrations for fantasy role-playing games, and then broke into illustrating children's books. He is well known in children's illustrating circles for creating sculptures to use as models for his illustrations. The Dirty Cowboy (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2003), written by Amy Timberlake, is his first picture book. When asked about his switch to children's book illustration, Adam Rex responded:

"I've always had a love of inventing stories, so I think it was natural I should gravitate toward kids' books, where words and pictures often share the stage equally. That or comics, which I also love."

Since then, Mr. Rex has illustrated a variety of picture books, some of which he also wrote. In 2007, he wrote and illustrated his first middle grade novel: The True Meaning of Smekday (Hyperion). His next novel, Fat Vampire (a young adult title), came out in July 2010.

Adam Rex lives with his wife, Marie, in Tucson, Arizona, where he "draws, paints, writes, spends too much time on the internet, and listens to public radio."

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Amy Timberlake Official Site - Bio
Amy Timberlake - Children's Literature Network
Amy Timberlake Biography -
Insights From Illinois Authors - article excerpt
Help! The Writing Process of The Dirty Cowboy: From Family Story to Published Book

Adam Rex Official Site - Bio
Interview with King of the Monster Illustrators Adam Rex - GeekDad from
Letter to Myself: Adam Rex - Anna Staniszewski website
Adam Rex Interview - BSC Kids
Local Author Profile: Adam Rex -