Society of
Children's Book Writers
and Illustrators

2015 Conference Faculty: Emma Virjan

Meet the faculty of the 2015 Austin SCBWI Writers & Illustrators Working Conference. We've asked all our faculty members to answer 4 quick questions so we can get to know them better.

Emma Virjan

Emma Virjan

Next in the series is Emma Virjan.

Emma J Virján was born under an Aries moon on a Wednesday, her dad’s bowling night. This explains her attraction to hardwood floors. She likes to draw, work in her garden and often lets her dog sleep on the couch.

Emma holds a BFA in Communication Arts from Texas State University. She is the author-illustrator of Nacho the Party Puppy, Random House, 2008, and the forthcoming What This Story Needs Is A Pig In a Wig, HarperCollins, May 12, 2015. She makes her home in Austin, Texas where she spends her days as an illustrator and graphic designer.

What attracted you to children’s books?

The illustrations – always the illustrations. The drawings in William Steig’s Amos and Boris and Bernard Waber’s Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile fascinated me to no end. I used to trace the characters and write my own stories about them. I was that kid in school that was always drawing, despite Sr. Bridget’s stern admonitions.

What’s the best part of your job?

Drawing. And watching a character or scene develop from first sketch to finished art and story. 

What’s the most challenging part of your job?

Writing. I think visually, so often I can get tangled up with the words. Thank goodness for critique groups and editors.

What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?

Apparently, at the age of seven, I announced to my parents that I wanted a career as an illustrator and writer. Life happened and when I was 30, my dad asked me if I still wanted that career as an illustrator. I answered that I did and that I had a ton of drawings/stories lying around. Then he asked if I had shown anyone my work yet. He said, “You have to show folks your work – drawings AND writing. No one will see it from your studio.” That was the Best. Advice. Ever. Shortly after that conversation I enrolled in writing and drawing classes to start honing my craft. 

Come see Emma at the 2015 Austin SCBWI conference, March 7-8.