Wed, Nov 5th, 2014 2:43:07 pm

          CHINESE FAIRY TALE FEASTS: A LITERARY COOKBOOK is lavishly illustrated by Shaoli Wang, who did several of my books. Her expert eye captured the roles of food, Chinese food, and Chinese eateries in the lives of the young heroines in my two SHU-LI books.
          I often get asked, "What's it like to work with an illustrator?"
          The asker is always astonished when I reveal that (1) I have no say on who the publisher chooses as artists, and (2) I don't see the artwork until it is finished. There is no consultative process.
          Teamwork is a business virtue these days, in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds, so people seem stunned at the gap between author and illustrator. "Doesn't this bother you?" they ask.
          I shake my head and say, "Publishers see hundreds of artists' portfolios, so they have a much better sense of what talent is available."
          I also believe an artist needs freedom to play with my story, to interpret it according to his/her instincts. As author, I've had my kick at the can, writing the story.  Next comes the illustrator's turn to add the visuals.
          I've been delighted with all of my publishers' choices. All the artists have expanded my vision of my stories. When I write, I don't see the story in my head, like a movie projector throwing images onto a screen. For me, the story is a series of problems that need to be resolved. So, when I finally see the illustrations, it's usually the very first time I get a visual fix on my story. Those are moments of sheer delight!

Front row, l. to r., Jacqueline Wang, designer, Carol Frank, publisher, back row: Judy Chan (recipes) , PY
Shaoli isn't in the group photo, but here's a sample of her vivid color work from BAMBOO
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