Featuring The Dynamic Duo
Author: Melissa Stoller
Illustrator: Callie Metler-Smith
Thanks for joining us and Welcome!
Callie's the one on the left and Melissa is on the right.
I thoroughly enjoyed meeting both Melissa and Callie at the 2017 North Texas SCBWI Conference. One of the highlights was that Melissa and I finally got to meet our publisher, Callie Metler-Smith of Clear Fork Publishing. What an energetic weekend!
Callie’s the owner of Clear Fork Publishing, and her hometown newspaper. Somehow she finds time to be an editor, a mom raising three kids, a teacher teaching art, an artist illustrating picture books and lest I forget…she’s also an author! Callie was born a Georgia peach but was raised in the Lone Star State and is a proud Texan!
Melissa is a true New Yorker living in the Big Apple and just down the street from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Really? Wow! She loves her ‘cawfee’ in the mornings (as she puts it). Melissa’s also a mom of three daughters, a former lawyer turned writer, and an active volunteer in her community. She’s the author of several books including her latest chapter book The Enchanted Snow Globe: Return to Coney Island which is the first book in a series. Callie is the illustrator. And this is what we’re going to talk about today.
Who wants to go first and tell us how this came to be?
MELISSA: First, let me start by saying thank you to Patricia! We had so much fun meeting at the SCBWI North Texas Conference in September. You Texans are certainly a warm and welcoming bunch!
As for how this book came to be: The story behind THE ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION - RETURN TO CONEY ISLAND is based on how my grandparents met on the Coney Island trolley in the 1920s. I had been thinking about writing the story for many years. First, I tried it as a picture book but then realized that I wanted to write a chapter book series about characters who shake a snow globe and are transported to different historical moments and also connect with their ancestors. I actually queried Callie with a picture book manuscript and mentioned in my query that I was also working on a time-travel adventure series. Callie responded that she wanted to see the time-travel book! I pitched the book as The Magic Tree House book series meets the Back to the Future movie series. Callie’s vision for the series clicked immediately with mine and I knew from the beginning that I wanted to work with Clear Fork Publishing. And I was thrilled that Callie wanted to illustrate the series. Our collaboration has been so wonderful – we bounce ideas back and forth and it was great fun for me to see my characters come to life. I especially love how she portrayed the period clothing from the 1920s, the Cyclone roller coaster, and the huge curio cabinet that houses the snow globe collection. And of course I smile every time I look at her illustration of the moment when the twins watch their great-grandparents meet on the Coney Island trolley. I couldn’t have asked for a better publisher or illustrator for this series.
CALLIE: Thanks so much, Patricia! For me, Melissa’s series was a little piece of home. My son loved the Magic Tree House books and I spent many nights reading them to him. I loved Melissa’s writing style and was very intrigued when she said she had a series that featured time travel. When I read it, I fell in love. It was just the thing I wanted to be part of! Later, when I started to really see Simon and Emma come to life in my head, I knew I wanted to be more involved. I was so excited when Melissa gave me the opportunity to illustrate it also!
How many books are in the series? Callie, will you be the illustrator for all? What is the title of the 2nd book and when will it be available?
MELISSA: As of now, we have contracted for 5 books in the series and Callie will definitely illustrate them all! The second book is titled, THE LIBERTY BELL TRAIN RIDE, and it will be chugging along in 2018! This time, twins Emma and Simon shake a snow globe from their grandmother’s enchanted collection and are transported back to 1915 Philadelphia. They embark on an adventure as the Liberty Bell makes its last transcontinental train ride to San Francisco. Along the way, they meet their Great-Aunt Lucy, learn all about how petitions work, and have the chance to help the Liberty Bell get back on track. I can’t wait to see what Callie has lined up for this story in her illustrator’s imagination!
CALLIE: Yes, I am really hoping Simon and Emma will have many adventures before it is all said and done! Illustrating the first book was so out of my box and was a real growth and learning experience for me. At one point my husband said he “forbade” me to illustrate anymore, but I think he agreed it was worth it in the end. The new snow globe with the train was featured at the end of the first book so I’ve been brainstorming about the new book since finishing the last one. I’ve even had a few dreams where I was drawing it out in my dream!
Is there anything else you’d like your readers to know?
MELISSA: I think it’s so important to keep growing and developing as an author. I read picture books and chapter books regularly to keep up with new trends and to study the books as mentor texts. I also take classes and workshops regularly to keep working on my craft. In fact, Callie and I are both taking a class in Mira Reisberg’s Children’s Book Academy. It focuses on illustrating picture books, and although I am not an illustrator, I know that it is helping me to understand how the text and illustration in picture books work together to create the magic of storytelling. It’s fun to be working and learning with Callie!
Also, Callie and I had an incredible day together at the Kimbell Art Museum in Ft. Worth. We both love art history, and we took a tour of the museum and basically stared at masterpieces for an afternoon. My debut picture book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, is all about finding creativity and I know that my love of art history helped inform this story. Additionally, the third book in the ENCHANTED SNOW GLOBE COLLECTION series will feature the twins in a museum, so Callie and I are thinking about what other art field trips we can take together!
Finally, I’m so happy that Callie appreciates the Book Club Guides I include in all my books. We both think it’s so important for families to make connections through reading and discussing books.
CALLIE: I think illustration and text is always a partnership. They both have to be in sync to really work. I was so blessed to be able to work with Melissa on a deeper level than just publisher and it was such an amazing experience for me. I felt like I grew a lot as both a writer and illustrator through the process.
Do either of you have any book signings scheduled? We’d love to join in.
MELISSA: I’m definitely planning to make another trip to Texas and hopefully Callie and I can schedule a joint book signing! And Patricia - I would also love to go out for more Tex-Mex lunches and dinners with you, Callie, and the rest of the Clear Fork Publishing Texas group!
CALLIE: During the month of November, I will be at several shows around my home base of Stamford, Texas. I can’t wait to eat more Queso with Melissa and other CFP authors and illustrators soon! Anytime we get to spend together is so much fun!
I can’t stop here without saying congratulations to Melissa. Her debut children’s picture book, SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, will be released in Spring 2018, and of course Callie Metler-Smith is the publisher.
And I have to mention that A HUG FOR THE WORLD, an anthology written and illustrated by the talented authors and illustrators at Clear Fork Publishing, will be released soon. All proceeds will go to help those in Texas affected by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. You can pre-order a copy here: https://www.clearforkpublishing.com/store/p122/AHugForTheWorld.
You can find Callie @:
Website: http://www.calliemetlersmith.com or clearforkpublishing.com
Instragram: @cmetler or @clearforkpub
You can find Melissa @:
We enjoyed this tremendously!
Thank you so much for featuring us on your blog, Patricia!!!