I’m excited to report that fellow Maryland kidlit creator Olga Herrera is about to release her author/illustrator picture book debut, THE UNWELCOME SURPRISE (Feiwel and Friends, April 18, 2023)! Olga runs a fun illustration podcast with Sunny Duran, Illo Chat. Be sure to check it out! I caught up with Olga to learn more about her new book.
Me: Congratulations on your awesome picture book debut! How did you get into creating children’s books?
Olga: Looking back, I realize I should’ve always leaned into creating children’s books, but it was later in life (past the age of 40) that I figured that out. I was first an illustrator, and the love of writing came later. Both are forms of storytelling, and now I am lucky enough to use both.
Me: THE UNWELCOME SURPRISE is certain to resonate with any kids about to experience that big change. What inspired you to write this touching story?
Olga: Originally this story was about my dog reacting to something new, our piano. But after having a brainstorming session with the acquiring editor, we changed it to a new baby. The anxiety and conflicting emotions Bongo goes through remain the same. And the ultimate message of love, acceptance, and calming down an overreacting mind applies to any unexpected situation.
Me: What was your illustration process?
Olga: I was strictly digital for this book; even the original concept sketches are on my iPad. Usually, I have a few napkin drawings here and there, at least. But staying digital with this project was very helpful with my family schedule, ease of communication with the publishing team, and ability to make quick changes. I used procreate and photoshop.
Me: Are we going to see more of Bongo? What are you working on now?
Olga: For now, Bongo is only in this book, but I have a couple more storylines for him. I hope to bring him back to a book.
Since finishing THE UNWELCOME SURPRISE, I have written a few more dummies and manuscripts that will be going on submission.
I am also reworking my portfolio. As time passes, I get bored of the same style and begin exploring new techniques, so I am excited to dive more into revamping my portfolio soon.
Me: Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Thanks so much for talking, and wishing your book much success!
To learn more about Olga and her work, please visit her website at: Children’s Books Illustration | Olga Herrera Author Illustrator