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.
Next in the series is Don Tate.
Don Tate has illustrated numerous critically acclaimed books for children, including Hope's Gift (Penguin) and The Cart That Carried Martin (Charlesbridge). His first book as an author, It Jes’ Happened: When Bill Traylor Started to Draw (Lee & Low, 2012), has received numerous awards such as an Ezra Jack Keats New Writer Honor; a Kirkus Best Children’s Books List Selection; a Booklist Editors’ Choice, 2012. Don is also one of the founding hosts of the blog The Brown Bookshelf – a blog dedicated to books for African American young readers with book reviews, author and illustrator interviews; and he is a team member of the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign, a grassroots organization created to address the need of more diversity in children's literature.
Don's current books are The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch (Eerdmans Publishing, 2015), written by Chris Barton; and Poet: The Remarkable Story of George Moses Horton of Chapel Hill (Peachtree, 2015), written and illustrated by himself. Don lives with is wife and son in Austin, Texas.
What attracted you to children’s books?
I was inspired by an aunt who was an author of young adult novels. While working at an educational publisher, I had the opportunity to travel to various reading conferences, where I fell in love with the field of children's publishing.
What’s the best part of your job?
I'm doing what I love to do. And I'm creating stories that entertain, edify and inspire children.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
Income. Most children's book creators are not swimming in money.
What’s the best piece of advice you were given that helped drive your career?
To stay true to myself. Early on, I was pushed to paint realistically, portraiture. But I didn't enjoy painting realistically. The infamous Brian Pinkney advised me to stay true to my painting style.
Come see Don at the 2015 Austin SCBWI conference, March 7-8.