Sitting down with the author and illustrator of Someday a Bird Will Poop on You is as entertaining as reading the book. So much so that I had to pause the interview for a moment to keep from choking on my breakfast. Hilarity is of course to be expected from these two who met almost twenty years ago on the comedy circuit doing improv and currently work together creating ad campaigns. Sue is also mom to Oscar and Augie, who attend school with my children. Someday a Bird Will Poop on You was inspired by Sue’s desire to pass on a message of resiliency to her eldest son, Augie.
I read you came up with the idea for the book on a family road trip to Pennsylvania.
Sue: I do a lot of thinking in cars and planes. Maybe it’s the reconstituted air. There was a conglomeration of things that happened. I fell down the stairs in our condo in Uptown. It was so mild. Nothing happened. But when I fell I was like “why!!!!!” I caught myself in the throes of being ridiculous. So I wanted to impart on my son, Augie, that you are in control of your own vibe and how you handle things. Which I always forget myself. So I think it came from there.
How long after you came up with the idea did it take to write the story?
Sue: Oh, it was all in twenty minutes. That’s how it usually happens with me. I have this flash and I do it then and there.
Did you immediately think you were going to ask Megan to illustrate it?
Sue - It was all on a whim. I was thinking I will give this book to Augie, and Megan will illustrate it.
Megan, what did you think when you got the book?
A little back story. I wrote this book about how to deal with bed bugs. Getting bed bugs was an absolute disaster. I got them at a time when it meant more to me than it really did. It meant this is your biblical punishment for all the bad choices you’ve made in life. So I’d been trying to turn this into a helpful book. I got an agent, but at that time getting published was very much dependent on the number of your twitter followers. So I decided I’d rather just work on something else and then I could have traction for the bed bugs book.
Then I was working on this play with a friend, who very helpfully told me there was no way I could make these puppets for the play. And this friend doesn’t make puppets and has no idea what he’s talking about. And I got so angry, I decided to illustrate the Bird Poop book that night. I illustrated the whole book in 3 hours. I find anger very clarifying and it makes my decision making process much easier. So the book was illustrated and we thought we would just do it on PowerPoint and print it.
Sue: Then my boss got involved. And he said this is nuts. You should make this into an actual book.
Sue, what did Oscar and Augie think about the book when they saw it.
They are like, meh. I mean, they like it if I come and read in their class. Or if we go to a school to read with the bird hats Megan made and our lab coats on. But they are generally unimpressed.
I find kids are generally unimpressed with what their parents come up with. Even if they are brilliant like this book. Megan, when you heard the story did the illustrations immediately come to you?
Again, I was so mad at my friend telling me I couldn’t make the puppets that it became very obvious how to illustrate it. It was so quick.
I’ve read some people say your illustrations remind them of Mo Willems. I actually found myself thinking of the illustrations of Daniel Salmieri in Those Darn Squirrels. Did either of those illustrators have an influence on you?
I think of Mo Willems as more digital. I’ve always loved pen and ink and watercolor. My mom was a painter. But really, I did these illustrations in three hours. If I had to name an influence it would probably be Garfield. I loved Garfield growing up.
Do you have any ideas for future children’s books or was this a one off project?
Sue: I almost feel we have too many ideas. Megan has already illustrated another book, You’re an Alien to Aliens about how you would seem like an alien to an alien. We have another book that isn’t complete yet, Mission Fail, about not being afraid to fail and instead encouraging kids to actively seek failure to learn new things and have new experiences.
I think that is a great message at a time when many experts say we are shielding our kids too much from failure. At the end of the book you both shared experiences you’ve had being pooped on by birds. Have you been pooped on since the publication of this book?
Megan: Oh yeah. I was stretching before a run. As I was stretching I noticed the bird poop all over the bench and the sidewalk. And then I got pooped on.
Sue: You were literally standing in a bird toilet.
Megan: Yes, it turned out to be a sanctuary for herons. And we get texts from people all the time saying “It happened!”
Someday a Bird Will Poop on You has been featured in many of our subscription boxes and is always a big hit. It is also available on Amazon.