Meet the Author: Sarah Hartsig
You are self-published! That’s so brave! What made you decide to go the self-published route?
Hazelwood Forest and all the characters that live there have become so real to me over the years. I have all these stories and lives of woodland animals scampering about in my brain that I had to just get it down on watercolor paper. I wanted to write and illustrate a book and fully understand the process from cover design to choosing the best font. Creating A Party for Pepper was an enormous undertaking with a huge learning curve but I loved every minute of it.
Tell us about your book, A Party for Pepper.
A Party for Pepper is my first book in the Hazelwood Forest series (There will be more!). I set out to create a carefully crafted picture book offering early readers a multi-layered visual experience. A Party for Pepper is a colorful and thoughtful tool for a child’s first steps towards learning their numbers 1-10. Every number is a color from the ten color spectrum along with a decorative component of Pepper’s birthday party. Cake, gifts, friends and decorations all building up to the final scene…Pepper’s party.
Do you have more adventures for Pepper in the works?
Yes I do! I am working on a few book ideas and have begun illustrating them. Pepper will have a whole book series.
How did you get into illustration?
I began illustrating as a child. Drawing was a daily activity for me. Over the course of my life I have been a painter primarily large abstract pieces. I studied color theory and watercolor painting therapy through a graduate program in The Netherlands. The first illustration for Hazelwood Forest happened by accident in 2010. Pepper seemed to just appear on my sketch book with so much energy and life, I knew she had many adventures to take me on.
Where do you find inspiration?
Walking through the local woods and meadows gives me limitless inspiration. Spending time in Carnation Valley near Jubilee Farm is pure magic too. We are lucky to have so many parks in the city of Seattle. I live near the Arboretum and often take walks there for inspiration. Spending time with my nieces and nephew inspire little personality traits for my characters. Remembering my own childhood also adds to the depth of the Hazelwood Forest critters. Pepper is a wild, free spirited mouse with this incredibly sweet, caring nature, she gets into mischief sometimes too. In my imagination she is strong willed and independent but has a gentleness about her too. A group of lady bugs and Pippin the chipmunk are her best friends.
Are you working on any other projects?
Yes! I recently started making my first Hazelwood Forest plush pillows. I use organic cotton and stitch them all by hand and they are so adorable. I am also working on designs for tea cups and dishes.
What does your average day look like?
My day usually starts with a cup of earl grey tea with a splash of almond milk. I sip my tea and check my Instagram account and make my first post of the day and then go into my studio. Most days I like to get out of the house and visit other creatives in this wonderful community for tea and good conversation, this is key to maintaining sanity when working alone most of the time. I often have a few business calls to make and then back to the studio! When I am in the thick of painting something new I enjoy having Pride and Prejudice playing in the background or the movie Miss Potter, Anne of Green Gables, Sound of Music etc. These films are some of my favorites and keep my creative juices flowing.
Guess what readers!?! We are giving away one free copy of A Party for Pepper! Visit our Instagram account to enter!