A Café Chat With Greg Pizzoli
Photo courtesy of IDA Interior Lifestyle
Lindsay: Hi there, Greg, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Café. Thanks so much for taking the time to join us, and for your generous offer of a critique to a winning commenter! As we settle into our booth to chat, what might you be drinking?
Greg: Good morning, Lindsay! Probably coffee. If not coffee, seltzer. Mandarine.
Lindsay: Are you snacking on anything?
Greg: Nope, I just ate. Ok, I’ll have a cookie.
Lindsay: Excellent choice. I’ve got a chewy chocolate chip one, myself. Now first off, we’d like to congratulate you on winning the 2014 Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for the most distinguished beginning reader book for The Watermelon Seed, as well as for the success of Number One Sam! Plus, you’ve got a new book coming out on August 3, Not Very Scary, written by Carol Brendler. Have you had time to breathe with all the excitement?
Greg: Thanks so much! It’s been an amazing year, and there’s even more exciting stuff in the works. The response to the books has been incredible.
Lindsay: Now, coming from a family of fans of The Watermelon Seed, I just have to ask you….did you ever swallow a seed? You don’t have to tell us if you actually burped it up…we probably don’t want to know. But we do want to know what inspired this hilarious book.
Greg: I have! I’ve swallowed a bunch of watermelon seeds. I do it now and again to prove to kids at events that they won’t actually die if they swallow one by accident. Come to think of it tho – I never really see those kids again after the event – so for all they know . . . well, to answer your question, yes, I have swallowed seeds. My grandfather used to tease me about it when I was a kid – that’s what terrible grandfathers do. He’s in prison now.
Lindsay: As writers and illustrators, we’d love to hear a little bit about the submission process from you. Can you give us some details about how you got started? Any advice or encouragement?
Greg: I got started actually by attending an EPA SCBWI event at Penn’s campus in 2010. There was a portfolio critique and it pushed me to get something done and get feedback from someone who actually worked in the industry. After what was a pretty awful crit, I hunkered down and started making as much work as possible. And I made zines and sent those out and sent out regular postcards advertising my new portfolio pieces on my site, stuff like that. I went to two of the big conferences, too – one in NY and one in LA. Once I signed with my agent things really started rolling along.
Lindsay: Imagine for a moment that you go to flea market and buy an intriguing old lamp. You get home, polish it up, and—poof!—a genie puffs out and offers you the choice of any three artistic masterpieces from any museum in the world. To keep. Forever. What might you choose?
Greg: This was easier than you might think.
Napoleon Crossing the Alps by Delaroche. I saw this at the Louvre last year and stared at it for 30 minutes probably.
Second would probably be a big chunk of Assyrian sculpture that I saw at the British Museum recently. My wife would like that.
And third – I’d pick some random Jeff Koons and sell it immediately. Then I could buy whatever else I wanted.
Lindsay: Thanks so much for stopping by to chat with us! We had fun, and we’re looking forward to meeting you on August 17!
Greg: Thanks for having me! I’m looking forward to it – save me some ice cream!
Lindsay: We sure will! And now, it’s your turn to say hi to Greg, EPA community! Leave a comment and enter yourself to win that free critique. If you can’t be at our Sundae Event but still want to say hello, just let me know in your comment. And not to sound too teachery, but be sure to include your name!