This month’s volunteer chronicles features the dynamic duo Kyle and Noelle McBride. If you’ve come to any SCBWI events in Austin, you’ve likely seen one or both of them pitching in, elbows deep. Our SCBWI chapter wouldn’t be the same without these two! Thanks for all you do, Kyle and Noelle…including this interview!
Can you tell us a little bit about your volunteer role(s)?
Kyle: I’ve been the chapter graphic designer for the last 3 years. You may have seen my work on the chapter website announcing upcoming events, promotional materials handed out at festivals, etc.
Noelle: Don’t forget the inserts for the conference folders!
Kyle: Oh yeah, and I help set up and run the sound system and projectors for the conferences as well.
Noelle: And I help hold the cords! And make sure we wake up on time to set up early! Most of my volunteering happens at the conference. If you’ve signed up for a critique, it may have been me at the table, directing you to get into your power pose beforehand, or giving that one-minute warning at the end!
What interested you about volunteering for SCBWI initially, and what have you gotten out of the experience?
Kyle: I really didn’t think about it much at the beginning! There was a mention in a newsletter that the chapter needed a graphic designer, and having that professional experience, I jumped in. I’m also in a band and have experience with running sound systems, so when we arrived early several years ago at a conference and the crew was running a little behind, I offered to help. So now I’m the AV guy.
Noelle: Able to leap over speakers in a single bound!
Noelle: As a teacher (my day job!) I know how many people it takes to make an organization run, especially the big events. So I am happy to help.
Kyle: This chapter is awesome. We just want to contribute to its success.
Noelle: We have benefited greatly from all the resources available to us, from critique groups, to conferences, and just want to give back. But most of all, we are thankful for the fellow writers and illustrators that have also become friends.
We have a wide range of volunteers, from those just starting out in writing to published authors and everything in between. Where in the writing journey are you?
Noelle: We’re so lucky that we are both part of this journey together. We’ve been learning more about the craft of picture books through much reading of mentor texts, attending conferences and webinars. We take things to our respective critique groups, and of course support each other with revisions to the text or the art.
Kyle: We’ve collaborated on several picture book dummies and have been submitting to agents and editors for awhile.
Noelle: We’re in year 3 of the Agent-Wait-a-Thon…
Kyle: …so act soon to receive a lifetime supply of words and pictures! Volunteers are standing by.
What surprises you most about this writing life?
Noelle: I’ve been surprised so many times by the variety of messages I hear about the ‘rules’ in picture books. One industry professional might suggest one thing, and then soon after I’ll hear the exact opposite from another respected member of the publishing industry! It can be confusing, but in the end I think just doing our own thing and being true to ourselves is the best we can do.
Kyle: Sometimes we make up our own rules! But also we’ve also been surprised at how supportive children’s writers and illustrators are of each other. It’s amazing how generous people are with their time, and resources.
Do you have any favorite craft books, courses or resources?
Noelle: There are so many! We both participate in ReFoReMo and Storystorm each year, and follow KidLit411. This is my second year in 12×12. I also reference Linda Ashman’s The Nuts and Bolts Guide to Picture Books (ebook).
Kyle: My favorite resources that I keep going back to are any videos and podcasts by Will Terry and/or Jake Parker.
What was your favorite childhood book? Have you read it again as an adult?
Kyle: Anything by Dr. Seuss – I was mesmerized by all of the action happening – cans that were about to topple over, constant near-miss disasters and quirky kinetic characters.
HOP ON POP, THE SNEETCHES, and GREEN EGGS AND HAM were probably my favorites. I spent a LOT of time trying to draw the characters. We certainly read these to our own girls many times.
Noelle: I cannot name just ONE favorite book! Ok, ok, I’ll narrow it down to two…. I adored THE TINY FAMILY by Norman Bridwell (a thimble for a cooking pot! Ah!). But also I loved STREGA NONA, especially after I got to see Tomie dePaola in person demonstrate how to draw her.
Quick Fire Questions
Would you rather…
Be covered in fur or covered in scales?
Kyle: I would love to have some fur, especially on top…
Noelle: Fur, I guess… if I could be a unicorn.
Only be able to read the first sentence of each paragraph in a book or have to start with the last page first?
Kyle: I’d rather read the last page first, because then I could still read the entire thing.
Noelle: I guess I agree, but then I’d spend most of my reading time looking for clues toward the known outcome.
Live in an outpost in Antarctica or live on the International Space Station?
Kyle: The Space Station! That would really change my perspective.
Noelle: It depends on the food…
Be an average person now, or a king/queen 2000 years ago?
Noelle: I think we’re pretty happy being average now!
Want to check out more of Kyle and Noelle’s work? Visit Kyle’s illustration site, here.