Miri Leshem-Pelly is the author-illustrator of 14 children’s books. She’s also illustrated 14 books for other writers. When Miri isn’t writing she can be found speaking at schools, kindergartens and libraries. She is invited to do more than 200 presentations with her books per year. Miri is also a Regional Advisor for SCBWI (Society of Children’s book writers & illustrators).
Miri is represented by Olswanger Literary Agency.
Miri’s works have won awards and her illustrations have been shown on several exhibitions.
Miri lives in Israel with her husband and two children, and loves reading books and going on nature hikes.
Her latest book is Scribble & Author.
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Scribble & Author is written as a dialogue between the main character, Scribble, and the author who created her.
Scribble's journey starts on a peaceful shore called THE BEGINNING, continues to the rough, adventurous MIDDLE, and leads finally to the gate of THE ENDING, but it’s not at all what Scribble expected… Scribble is a scribble and Author is an author, but who really gets to tell the tale?
A picture book about finding your own voice, making your own decisions, and writing your own story.
Watch the book trailer at Vimeo.
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What first inspired you to write or who inspired you?
Truth is that I started as an illustrator of children books, and only later I decided to start writing my own stories and became an author-illustrator. I learned in art school and realized that illustration of children books is my biggest passion. The problem was that I was given at first some un professional books to illustrate and I didn’t like it. I knew I could write much better than those books, since writing has always been a hobby of mine. And so, at the age of 25, I wrote and illustrated my first book and I realized that this is what I want to do.
At what age did you know you wanted to be a writer?
When I was a child I loved writing and drawing. I have at home stories that I wrote even on first grade. On my notebook of stories from age 9, I wrote that I know for sure that I’m going to be an author when I grow up! I didn’t remember that, but a few years ago, long after I became an author, I discovered this childhood notebook at my parents home, and I couldn’t believe my eyes… So I guess my answer to your question would be: when I was nine years old.
Do you take notes when reading or watching a movie?
When I’m reading or watching a movie I don’t take notes, because I want to feel the story and be inside of it, instead of analyzing it. But my genre is picture books, and I read many of those. And I find it very helpful to study picture books that I love. I analyze their structure and try to learn what makes them work so well. So, sometimes I do take notes when reading picture books.
Do you have a day job? What do you do?
I don’t have a day job. But I can’t say that my income as an author is enough (at least for now). Most of my income today comes from school visits. I do around 200 school visits a year, and for me this is the perfect job. I love meeting my young readers and inspire them to read more and maybe even write themselves. It also helps me with my own writing when I get to know my audience.
Can you name three writing tips to pass on to aspiring authors?
I can recommend some of the things which help me most on my writing career.
1. Critique group - I can’t begin to explain how helpful it is to be a part of a critique group. I awe so much to my wonderful Red Pencil Critique Group! I learned so much from them and got a lot of support too. It takes some extra work to critique the stories of the other members, but it is worth every minute of my time.
2. Join SCBWI. If you write for children or youth - you should join this wonderful organization. I’m a member of SCBWI for many years, and I’m the regional Advisor of the Israeli chapter for several years now. SCBWI is a community, and you get there a lot of information about the craft and business of children books, you meet others like you, and you get many opportunities to help you grow.
3. Never stop learning. Go to writing conferences, participate in on-line courses and workshops. It will keep you fresh and inspired. There is always some more to learn.
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on a new picture book now. I’m on the very first stages so I can’t say too much about it, but I’m really enjoying this one. It is a funny story with a monster character, something I never tried before, and I have lots of fun drawing this monster. I hope it would become a book, but it is too early to say.