Saturday, September 13, 2008


Pint-sized interviews that leave you smiling.
DAN HANNA lives high in the treetops of the Brazilian Rain Forest where he illustrates (and attempts to write) children's picture books. He periodically lowers his work to a devoted monkey-like companion who then submits it to various editors throughout the world. His first book, THE POUT-POUT FISH (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) was launched in March 2008.
Mr. Hanna doesn't have any children of his own but he does have a BOYish grin, he's YOUNG at heart, has CHILDish tastes and two KIDney stones.

How does it feel to have your first book (and author Deborah Diesen's first book) be on the NY Times Bestseller's list for children's books? Did you ever imagine it would be this successful?
It feels like a hot air balloon ride. But not like one of those rides where the basket catches on fire or the balloon hits a power line or something.

My imagination was all over the place. At the low end, I imagined it showing up in the 99 cent stores. At the high end, I imagined it becoming the basis for a world-wide religion where true believers would genetically alter themselves to resemble characters in the book. So getting on the NY Time's List was right about in the middle.

I'm just kidding of course. It was like a dream and it never occurred to me as a possibility. I still don't understand how it could have happened. I think maybe my fairy godmother went around buying tons of books and now she has about a zillion copies in her fairy garage.

You're a wonderful illustrator with an extensive background in animation; now that you've illustrated your first picture book, do you have any advice for aspiring picture book writers? How about aspiring illustrators? (okay, that's really two questions, but I have to give equal time to each craft :-)
Buy one thousand parrots and place them in a room with a looped recording saying something like: "Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!" Then release the parrots, using a helicopter, over each of the major publishing houses. When the editors leave for lunch they'll hear the parrots in the trees screeching "Aaaaccck, Dan Hanna can sure draw fish!" Now I know this scheme seems rather elaborate, but it worked for me.

Deborah and I were very fortunate to be included in Alice Pope's 2009 edition of CWIM (Children's Writer's & Illustrator's Market). In my interview there's an extensive list of equally dubious "how to get published" advice.

What’s your favorite children’s joke?

My favorite is actually the "Interrupting Cow" joke but somebody [Jay Asher] already - MOO!

Q: Why doesn't anyone play poker on the Serengeti?

A: Because there's too many cheetahs.

Very funny! Thanks, Dan!