In our fourth interview with our published members, we are excited to speak to Eleanor Peterson whose non-fiction picture book, Jurassic Rat, was published in June 2019. Eleanor lives in Italy and because there is no Italian region at the moment, and she is just a hop across the border, the Swiss region has adopted her as part of our region.
Tell us about your new book.
Most folks know about dinosaurs but how many know about Jurassic rats? This is the story of one Jurassic rat, the size of a cat, who faces enormous dangers going in search of food for his family. Unfortunately, because he’s a bit on the clumsy side, Rat gets into all sorts of troubles tripping over logs, dropping precious eggs, and coming face to face with a terrifying allosaurus. Will Rat live to feed and snuggle with his family one more time before going out and doing it all over again?
What inspired you when working on this project?
My roof rats inspired me. I know it may seem strange, but it’s true. If it hadn’t been for them, I wouldn’t have a book. I was surfing the web on how to get rid of roof rats without killing them and fell upon a few articles about rats that were unearthed in Spain and China belonging to the Jurassic period. I had a story about the evolution of a species. I went for it. As for the roof rats, I put my kitty up there, and they disappeared. Now I have the pigeons. Sigh!
Tell us about the creative process for this book.
I did some research on the Jurassic period, then wrote the story and set it aside for a while. Then I attended an illustration course for picture books with the Children’s Book Academy run by Dr. Mira Reisberg. I had to pick a story to illustrate. Jurassic Rat was my choice. I illustrated the whole story then I had a one-on-one with Mira Reisberg, and she suggested a few edits for both the illustrations and text.
Did you encounter anything unexpected while working on this project?
Definitely! Illustrating a children's picture book is far from easy. I spent hours illustrating it, but in the end, I had a book dummy. What I didn’t expect, was a call from Mira Reisberg that is the art director for the Spork Imprint. She was interested in the story, but she asked me if someone else could illustrate the book? I was thrilled and accepted. It came to me as a surprise. If you’re curious as to why my illustrations didn’t work for children age 5-8 well, here’s an image (to the right). My illustrations were too realistic and scary.
Now for something completely different! City or Countryside, Why?
Countryside. I feel at one with nature. Nature walks clear my mind and make me happy. Then, I can go back home and put my butt in seat once again and revise my work.
Cities are chaotic, noisy, and stinky. I try to avoid cities, but at times I must go to Genoa (Italy). I come back home a nervous wreck. I don’t know how people cope with living in big cities.
Thank you for this delightful interview.
It was such a joy getting to know Jurassic Rat. Thank you Eleanor for sharing your creativity process with us. We wish you all the best for your future writing and illustrating adventures.
Bio - Eleanor Peterson
Eleanor has been called a Druid; she talks to trees, creeping critters, and animals. While she waits to hear back from them she paints, makes puppets, and plays with clay. She has a BS in Environmental Sciences and Territorial Management and has shared her passion for nature by teaching animal tracking to Middle Graders. She is an SCBWI, CBI, CANSCAIP member, and a graduate of the Children’s Book Academy. Eleanor is a Canadian author/illustrator residing in Italy.
Willkommen! Bienvenue! Benvenuto! Bainvegnì! Welcome!