Sunny is an adorable book about a little girl who gets swept away on a rainy day and how she finds the postives – almost – every step of the way. Read my review of Sunny here.

I got a chance to chat with author/illustrator Celia Krampien about writing, drawing and Sunny.

Q. Why did you decide to write your own book after only illustrating books before?
A. As much fun as it can be to help bring other people’s stories to life, as an illustrator I found myself waiting for projects to show up in my inbox. I thought, instead of waiting, I could try to create one myself. I had no idea if I’d be successful, but thought there was no harm in trying.

Q. How did you find this process over just illustrating other people’s ideas?
A. Illustrating other people’s ideas is a bit of a balancing act. There are a lot of people involved and I need my images to compliment their ideas for the book to be successful.

With SUNNY it felt much more like, full-steam ahead!

Front cover image of a little girl holding a big yellow umbrella sailing in a rainy sky with a gull
Celia Krampien’s Sunny isn’t based on anyone, but the author/illustrator inspires to be more like her.

Q. What was difficult about it? Easy?
A. At first, I was nervous about showing people what I had written. I went to school for illustration and have had lots of experience of getting feedback from professors, art directors and peers. Working with words was new territory, and one where I hadn’t gone through that learning process.

The easy part was working with all the lovely people who played a part in making SUNNY happen. Everyone seemed to share the same vision for this book, which made the process feel very smooth.

Q. How did you come up with the idea for Sunny?
A. At the time, I was interested in exploring the idea varied perspectives. It’s something I thought a lot about with illustration where you start with an idea then have to think of a few different ways to approach it visually.

I was also really interested in the idea of resiliency and wondered if there was a way to use those themes as a jumping off point.

I spent a lot of time trying to distill them in a way that still felt fun and relatable but (hopefully!) not too prescriptive.

Q. Why is it important for kids to find the positives in situations that may seem bleak?
A. I would hope that if kids are able to find a positive aspect to a difficult situation that it would help make those situations feel less bleak and insurmountable. It’s not easy to do and certainly isn’t always possible, which is why it was important for me to have Sunny come to a breaking point in the book where she cries.

Q. How can parents help create resilient kids?
A. I’m not an expert so it’s difficult to say. I think each kid faces unique challenges. I would hope that any adult be respectful and empathetic to a child’s needs by listening, setting a good example and empowering that child to feel confident in the choices they make.

Q. Was Sunny based on anyone?
A. Nope! Though I aspire to be more like her.

Q. How long did take to write/illustrate this book?
A. From the initial idea to publishing day, the whole process took about four years all together.

Q. What is your creative process for this book?
A. I started with an idea for how I thought the story would go, which evolved into an actual story. Then I went about thinking about the illustrations and what the characters would look like. I don’t think books always need to happen that way, but this one did.

Q. How does it differ for those books you just do the illustrations?
A. SUNNY feels like a much more personal project. There’s more of me in it even if it’s not directly about me.

Q. Can you please tell me your creative process when you only do the illustrations?
A. I do some rough, black and white versions of the illustrations to start. Then a few colour samples to begin with to show how things could look at a more final stage. Lots of people (my agent, my editor, the art director, etc) have suggestions at each stage on how to make the (illustrations) even better. Once we all feel happy, I made the final artwork.

Q. Will you write other books?
A. I hope so! I will, at the very least, try.

Q. What is your dream project?
A. I’d love the opportunity to continue to develop the many ideas swimming around in my head. But really, collaborating as an illustrator with other authors is always pretty cool. The projects I get approached to work on as an illustrator are for ideas I’d never dream up on my own.

Q. Do you have an author you would love to illustrate for? Who?
A. Oh gosh, don’t make me choose! I can say, one of the heartbreaking things about being an illustrator is that your work might not be suitable for the kind of stories you love. Like, you sit there thinking, how far can I push my work so I can convince someone to let me illustrate a Shirley Jackson story?

Q. Have you always loved to draw? When did this love surface? Did your parents encourage you to do art?
A. I liked to draw as a kid, like most people. I was a quiet kid, reading and drawing was a wonderful excuse to spend hours keeping to myself. Luckily, my parents encouraged me to try it as a career. My parents and family friends always made sure I had book to read.

Q. Are you self-taught or did you go to school for art?
A. I went to Sheridan College in Oakville, Ontario, to study illustration.

Q. What advice would you give to other people who are looking to do art for a living?
A. Learn as much as you can, not just skill-wise but about the kind of work you want to be making. Be kind, kindness will be one of your most valuable skills.

Q. What is the best part about your job?
A. This changes every day. Today it’s a toss-up between getting to read books for work and getting to stay home with my pets, drinking coffee all day.

Q. Anything else you would like to say?
A. Thanks for the questions and for letting me chat about SUNNY!