Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

What do YOU have to say? – interview with Lieve Snellings

on 11/03/2018

Lieve Snellings is an author and photographer I first became acquainted with through her nature books for children via Readers Review Room. It is a pleasure to have her over as a guest.

INTRO ABOUT LIEVE SNELLINGS

Lieve Snellings is a retired freelance photographer who lives in Leuven (Belgium).

Her series of picture books ‘Nature in Quebec, Pictures of Astonishing Wildlife’ count now 2 books, available in Dutch, English and French. Her children’s books are featured with whimsical photo- illustrations of wildlife, she took herself in Quebec.

Lieve Snellings became ‘BookGoSocial Top Voted Children’s Author 2017’ and ‘Readers Review Room’s Author of the Month October 2017’.

Her images illustrated many books, magazines and were published online. Her photos were shown in exhibitions all over the world.

Since 2008, after meeting up with her partner who lives in Quebec, you can find her for about 5 months a year in Canada. There she became a passionate nature photographer. She spent hours, weeks… Observing wildlife and searched every info she could find. This and her imagination made her publish two children’s books in which photos are as important as words.
Her stories take the traditional picture book experience and transform it by replacing illustrations by her own nature photography. The books are written in her mother tongue Dutch and translated in English and French.

Name: Lieve Snellings

Book(s): Margot gets an unexpected visit; Groundhog Secrets, Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Woodchucks

Genre(s): Picture Books featured with whimsical photo illustrations of wildlife
Day-job: Retired social worker/dispatcher at the Emerency Room Department. Passionale photographer.
Likes: Life and ice cream
Dislikes: beetroot and violence
Favourite virtue: passion and persistence
Favourite sin or fault: ice cream
Favourite quote: It’s better to lose yourself in your passion, than to lose your passion.
Favourite movie: Hidden Figures
Favourite song: Gracias a la vida by Mercedes Sosa and Joan Baez

INTERVIEW TIME

1. Welcome to Anita’s Haven. Pull up a chair, relax and fire away. Firstly, tell us five things about yourself that you think matter the most.

  • I am very happy that I was born
  • I think I can say that once I started something, I know the word persistence
  • I love children and nature
  • I see creatures in everything around me when I look at clouds, trees, water, dirt on the street, timber… I think it is the inner child that directs my eyes in a certain direction
  • I love connecting with people

2. When you were a kid, what did you want to do in life as an adult? Can you remember the moment you realized you had become an author? How did it feel to transcend from that point when you just wrote for yourself to the point when you realized this was what you wanted to do full time?

When I was a child, I didn’t dream to become a writer. I wanted to become a world champion in bicycle and then I would buy a big apartment in South Africa, in which half of the habitants would be black and the other half white. And so in my dream they had to learn to live together.

As many teenagers, I wrote poems as a way to express myself. But I didn’t think of me as a poet nor an author.

Later I became a social worker and photographer. And in the solidarity world, I heard so many times that white people talked about others, what they went through etc. I was interested in what these people wanted to tell themselves. So in photoreports and presentations, f.i. about Nicaragua, Bosnia, India… I wanted to let them do the talking themselves…
Maybe that’s the reason, that in my books, Margot the groundhog became the narrator of her own life.

3. Why do you write? What’s the most challenging aspect of your genre? Which genre can you never see yourself writing and why? How do you feel when you write? Is there a special ritual to it, a playlist, place, company, technology?

Why do you write?

This is a good question why do I write books? And it will be so different than for other writers, because I do it, in the first place, because I’m a photographer. Photographing nature was so good for my soul. And when I realized I had so many amazing photos of all those Quebecois animals and birds, I started thinking that these images could help reveal the beauty of nature to all kids, small and big ones. Making a children’s picture book seemed to me the best way to do so. Only my picture books would be different from others, because I would work with my own photos.

And it is that aspect that is the most challenging, I didn’t find much other picture books based on real photos. My work is a sort of special, something very different, in the big children’s book genre of picture books.

4. Which genre can you never see yourself writing and why?

I don’t like horror. Writing about something is going deeper into the story. I can not do that with horror.

5. How do you feel when you write?

When I write and do the graphics, featuring my books with whimsical photo- illustrations of wildlife, I took myself, in Quebec, I feel so exciting, I really can hear and see Margot talking, at that moment I live in another world…

6. Is there a special ritual to it, a playlist, place, company, technology?

I start with a general, vague idea. Then making a first selection of photos, see what these images tell me, what is the story that comes up… write the words down… After that, I start to create the illustrations in photoshop, add text and stuff, which can be different than my original words on paper. And so go step by step…

The photos play a very important role in the creation.

7. Tell us more about your book characters. Who inspired you for the heroes and villains? Who is your favourite character and why?

After spending some days with my godchild’s daughters in Belgium, I flew back to Quebec and suddenly it became clear to me. I can make a children’s book with these girls as main character together with Eufrazie the squirrel. But sitting again in our backyard, I saw Margot the groundhog waking up after her hibernation. At some or another way she made it all clear and told me ‘No, it’s not about Eufrazie, it is about me, Margot, that you have to write your book and and you have to show my pictures.’

I don’t know how she did it. But Margot the groundhog made me change my plans and give her the main role in the books, and that is the reason I more and more started to love her, she is such a strong character, she knows what she wants and goes after it.

5. We all know typing those special words, the end, gives us a priceless feeling, but that is when the actual work begins. How do you deal with the editing process? Are you your toughest editor and beta-reader or do you rely on someone for that?

I do have some beta-readers who go with me through the process. At the end, I asked an author-editor to read it. This is how I ended up with two books instead of one (My very first edition both books were worked out in one big picture book).

In the beginning, it was tough and I didn’t quite understand. But then a 10 year old girl made it all clear to me after I asked her to read. She said ‘one part in the book is more a story for kids a bit younger than me, but then this part with all the tidbits on groundhogs, I’m sure even my sister, who is 12, will enjoy that. And exactly this was it my first editor wanted to point out for me. And so I ended up with 2 books instead of one. After that process, they were both edited by a friend writer-publisher.

Another big job was the translation. I had a translator into French and into English. And after the translators had done their job, an editor came in and changes were made in agreement between translator, editor and me.

6. How much do praise and positive reviews help to fuel your creativity and keep you writing? How do negative reviews affect you?

Positive reviews give me, of course a boost, it’s like the fire of passion in myself gets some extra air and grow. Of course I also got critics. The first moments are a bit difficult, but then I let it lay down on me and after a while I can see what I can learn from it. And that pleases me then too.

7. What do you do when you are not writing books? Any hobbies or projects you are particularly passionate about?

I am a photographer, so that’s my big passion. I am also a women’s peace activist and member of Women in Black (WiB), an international network of feminists against violence and war and for peace. In Leuven we have a silent vigil every week.

I like reading, watching TV, films and hanging out with friends and family.

8. If you could be any famous book character, who would you be and why?

I like Pipi Langkous because she is so funny and full of energy and every problem is for her a challenge.

9. What’s the funniest or most interesting reaction you’ve had from people when you told them you were a writer?

I didn’t get a reaction that was funny nor weird that I still remember 🙂

10. If you could interview any famous person in human history, who would it be and what would you ask?

There are different famous persons in human history I would like to meet, but if just one person, I would choose Maya Angelou.

I would thank her for her poem ‘I rise’.

11. Would you like to add anything, share a brief sneak peek into your book, or send a message to the readers?

If you want to get astonished by the beauty of nature and a slight of humor…

Then the Margot books are really something for you!

Have fun reading and looking at the pictures.

QUICK POP-QUIZ

Dogs or cats – CATS cats know very well what they want and they go for it

Ice-cream or fruit – ICE-CREAM I could do a death-sin for ice cream

Meat or salad – SALAD I love salad, but I love meat too

Fact or fiction – FICTION Once I read in one of Alice Walker’s books that in fiction the facts are never finished, everyone can fill in what s/he see in the story or continue themselves. In non-fiction the story is sort of finished. Because I like facts, but also dreaming, maybe that’s why my stories have a mingling of facts and fiction :).

Music or silence – SILENCE I like music, but I need silence too. I think I would miss silence more than I would miss music.

Indoor or outdoor – INDOOR when I was young, my choice definitely would be ‘outdoor’, now I think I love indoor more 🙂

Ocean view or mountains – OCEAN VIEW Watching the movements of the sea is like rocking your soul. Though I like mountains too

Books or movies MOVIES

E-book or print – Print for picture books, for other books I prefer now e-books

Teach or learn – LEARN I love them both. But when I first learn, teaching follow

Romance or crime – CRIME I love romance, but for reading it is so destressing to read a crime story

AUTHOR LINKS

Books:

Margot Gets an Unexpected Visit

Hook: A children’s tale where nature photography, friendship, diversity, fun, education and ice hockey come together.

Blurb: As all groundhogs, Margot doesn’t like to have others around her. Certainly not humans. But is this also the case when she meets up with two little girls? You’ll find out in this book.
You will also enjoy the unique and touching photo-images of nature in Quebec, and an unpredictable anecdote on the special haircut for ice hockey fans.

Asin: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01E0FL2HK

Amazon smartly: http://smarturl.it/e7uowx

Universal booklink: https://books2read.com/u/mZ58yJ

ISBN: 978-1532877650

Groundhog Secrets – Everything You Always wanted to Know about Woodchucks

Hook: Discover the secret world of the groundhog through the eyes of Margo the woodchuck while gaining a close-up view of wildlife in whimsical photo illustrations.

Blurb: Do you want to know more about the woodchuck? Then this book packed with information about groundhogs (who are also called woodchucks) is for you! Margot the woodchuck reveals all her secrets. She describes how groundhogs are born, what they look like and who is in their family. She talks about how they fill their tummies in summer and autumn, to store fat for the long winter months. Even medical doctors and scientists study the groundhog hibernation. Find out why in this fascinating illustrated book.

Asin: B071Z35TDB

Amazon smartly: http://smarturl.it/0psllg

Universal booklink: https://www.books2read.com/u/m2oJNG

ISBN: 978-1546813033

Website: https://lievesnellings.wordpress.com

Social networks:

https://www.amazon.com/author/snellings
http://www.facebook.com/FotoBoekLieveSnellings
https://twitter.com/SnellingsLieve
https://www.instagram.com/lievesnellings
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14186089.Lieve_Snellings

Readers Review Room Author of the month October 2017: http://readersreviewroom.com/author-of-the-month/lieve-snellings/
BookGoSocial Top Voted Children’s Author 2017

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5 responses to “What do YOU have to say? – interview with Lieve Snellings

  1. This is a wonderful inerview!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Monique Trempe says:

    Excellent interview ! Les questions étaient pertinentes et vos réponses judicieuses m’ont fait connaître votre parcours et l’auteure passionnée de la nature que vous êtes. Félicitations et merci du partage ! J’attends votre prochain livre…

    Liked by 2 people

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