Lesley-Anne Caporelli is the author of Can I Bring a Giraffe on the Plane? She lives in United States with her wonderful family and her big-nosed, wee-tailed puppy, Pippin. She loves music of all kinds and her morning lattes.
Bonnie Ferrante: Welcome, Lesley-Anne. Let’s discuss the evolution of your first picture book.
Rajesh appears to be East Indian. Why did you write from that perspective?
Lesley-Anne Caporelli: I used to travel from the USA to India on business. There were always families traveling with young children. It is a 16 ½ hour flight, and you have a lot of time with not much to do. I was very bored and wished I had a friend with me; therefore, I could only imagine how bored they were! Rajesh was named after a colleague in India who has the most wonderful smile, and his name is Rajesh. The story evolved from those trips.
Ferrante: How many versions did you write?
Caporelli: Too many to count!! I am a visual person. I develop storyboards and then develop the text. There were several changes to the story until I thought it would work. Even in the final drafts, the story changed. The ending changed at the last minute.
Ferrante: I firmly believe losing count of the number of versions is a sign of a professional, always striving to do better.
Why did you choose a giraffe as opposed to any other animal?
Caporelli: There was no specific reason that I chose a giraffe. When the idea popped into my head, it sounded good. Choosing the other animals was harder because I second-guessed each one. Some of the other animals did not make it into the final cut.
Ferrante: What do you feel makes your writing original?
Caporelli: I believe my writing is original because I create stories in a world where all things are possible and no one else creates from that world but me. I take every day experiences and/or observations and put them into my creative world. For example, in my creative world bringing a giraffe on the plane is a normal thing to ask – but in our world, it is silly.
Ferrante: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing picture books?
Caporelli: The importance of letting an illustrator have creative control was a big lesson for me. The illustrator of my book, Tina Modugno, utilized colors and a style that appeals to children. Her input made the book much better than I could have done on my own.
Ferrante: What is your next project about?
Caporelli: I have a few books drafted. One is about a child who is having a difficult time coming up with something to do on a very rainy day. I hope Rajesh will make an appearance in that book.
Ferrante: Is there anything else you would like to tell us?
Caporelli: I am thinking about approaching my day job in the same fashion as I approach the creation of a children’s book. I am half-joking – it may be the next management craze!
Ferrante: If you were completely blind but could somehow see for just one hour each month, how would you most often spend that time?
Caporelli: I would gather up my family, including the dog, and go to the beach, the mountains, the city, museums — anything as long as I could gaze at my beautiful family for that hour.
Ferrante: If you could be the spokesperson for any product on the market, what product would you choose to enthusiastically represent?
Caporelli: It would have to be Starbucks!! I am a huge Starbucks fan – the shops, their lattes, etc. I am most impressed with their college benefits for their part-time employees. I believe everyone should have access to affordable, high quality education. In the US right now, access to quality education at all levels is not available for all of the population, and it is hurting our future.
Ferrante: If all drinking fountains could dispense another liquid in addition to water, what would you want it to be?
Caporelli: I guess I answered this question above. Coffee…specifically lattes!
Ferrante; Thank you for sharing with us today. Good luck with your new projects. I guess it’s time for a coffee break.
Note: the three random questions are from “Chat Pack – Fun Questions to Spark Conversations”.