Author Interview with Ken Priebe
We’re travelling behind the scenes to meet another children’s author, Ken Priebe. Ken is a little different in that his books are collections of poetry. We love the whimsical nature of his work and the amazingly detailed line work illustrations. We hope you enjoy learning a little more about Ken and his books.
Tell us about your books?
I’ve now completed two books of poetry, the first one called Gnomes of the Cheese Forest and Other Poems (2018), and my new one is called Let There Be Owls Everywhere (2019). I had written such a huge volume of poems over the past few years, it was recommended to me by many friends to separate them into two volumes. Both books are collections of funny, dark, whimsical poems and stories which are meant ideally to be read in order, from cover to cover. Kids and adults can both enjoy them.
Why did you want to write these stories?
The idea started from re-visiting many of the children’s poetry books I loved as a kid, and reading them aloud to my own kids. There was also a book by an artist named Kevin Kammeraad called The Tomato Collection which gave me the inspiration to start writing poems.
Where do you find your inspiration?
Many different places, but mostly from other books, movies, and music. I’m particularly fond of the work that Mercer Mayer did in the 1970s, and I’m a scholar of Maurice Sendak’s life and works. I also adore the works of Jim Henson, Terry Gilliam, Shaun Tan, The Decemberists, and countless other artists. Over the years, my family has also given me some great ideas for poems, just by saying something funny.
What’s the most fun part of being an author?
Coming up with ideas, wherever they come from, and actually creating them…writing them down and creating drawings to go with them. I don’t feel like these ideas are my own. They come to me from some mysterious place and I’m simply dictating, recording, and bringing them into being.
What’s your tip for parents to encourage reading?
Quite simply, the act of reading any book out loud to your kids before bedtime and making this a regular routine. I strongly believe is the best thing you can do as a parent. It makes them smarter, enriches their spirits, exposes them to new words and ideas, and molds them into whoever they are meant to be.
What’s your favourite children’s book of all time and why?
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, for its poetry, its beauty, and its boldness. When you look at the history of picture books and what came before this book vs. what came in its immediate wake of the 60s and 70s especially, you see how it changed everything, and gave artists the permission to go into some dark, whimsical, and magical places.
What would you say to someone thinking of writing their first book?
I would say thinking is good, but it won’t go anywhere until you write it. I still have a few projects I’m only thinking about so far, and that’s okay at the beginning. But eventually you need to get something on paper, and don’t let yourself procrastinate or get distracted by fear, laziness, or worry. Don’t be too hard on yourself either. Anything worth doing takes time, so take the time to make it good, and ask for support and feedback from other writers and trusted friends who have more experience. They will help you make your book better.
Can you share a lovely moment you’ve had as an author?
Every moment I have doing an author visit to a group of kids, reading my book to them and showing them my work, is a lot of fun and gives me great joy. Even better is connecting with those “diamond in the rough” kids. Those who are writing their own books or drawing already, and having a passion for it. That’s who I was as a kid, and I remember the rush of inspiration I got whenever I met a “grown-up” author or illustrator and they gave me some encouragement. Being able to do that for another young artist is the whole point behind doing this.
Ken Priebe studied art, film and animation at University of Michigan School of Art & Design and Vancouver Institute of Media Arts (VanArts). He has been an instructor, historian, and author in the animation industry for many years. He has animated on several short films for Scholastic/Weston Woods through Bigfott Studios. Ken resides with his family near Vancouver, Canada.
Where to Next?
We hope you enjoyed this insight into Ken Priebe’s latest book and author life. We’ll be sharing more author interviews where you can get a behind the scenes look at some amazing children’s authors. The best way to keep in touch with these is through signing up to our newsletter. You can also see our range of children’s books in our shop. Plus of course, you can find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn.