Mike Boldt is a Canadian children’s author/illustrator. Whether he’s writing and/or illustrating, his books are so fun, it’s easy to be fan. His latest picture book Find Fergus, couldn’t be more adorable. You’ll love meeting this bear as he practices his skills at hide and seek. We featured Find Fergus in our January 2021 Picture Book Box (a few boxes are still left readmarmalade.com/collections/past-boxes).
MARMALADE BOOKS: You live in Stony Plain, Alberta, just outside of Edmonton. Have you always lived there? You must like the cold and snow!
MIKE BOLDT: It’s not always been the Stony Plain area, but I’ve lived in Alberta all my life (except for one year in South Korea), so I’m pretty used to the weather. I suppose I do enjoy the snow and cold for at least a couple months each year.
MARMALADE: What were you like as a kid in school? Were you doodling all the time? Did you always want to write and illustrate children’s books?
MIKE: That’s exactly what I was like in school as a kid. I doodled much of each class on the backs of my notes and assignments. I also read a LOT, though didn’t really realize that a career in publishing was an option until much later in life. As a kid, I wanted to work on comic books or for an animation company.
MARMALADE: It must have been great fun working with Dev Petty on the I Don’t Want To Be A Frog series? Will there be a 5th book?
MIKE: “Great Fun” would still be an understatement for how much I enjoyed working on the FROG books with Dev Petty. She’s such a talented writer and I love her sense of humour. I’ve learned a lot from her as an author too. While there isn’t a 5th FROG book in the works right now, I am very excited to share with you that we are working on another book together. If you like to laugh, you’ll probably like it.
MARMALADE: I’m a big fan of fabulous picture book illustrations, especially if they are humorous. I’ve been enjoying your books for some time now. It didn’t hit me until I fell in love with Find Fergus that your work reminded me of another illustrator I’m a fan of, Dan Santat. Then I find out that you and Dan are friends and a conversation with Dan lead to Find Fergus. How did you meet Dan?
MIKE: Thank you! That’s a huge compliment for me as Dan has been like a mentor to me, and someone who I have a lot of respect for. Years ago when I was trying to break into publishing, he put out an ad looking for assistance and I helped him color his first graphic novel, Sidekicks. We met at San Diego Comic Con later that year and became really good friends. He’s taught me so much about the industry and helped me with my own work too. Dan and I, along with a few others, have a sort of virtual studio and have been “meeting” online almost daily for the last 10 years.
MARMALADE: Please tell me there will be another Fergus book. Fergus is just too adorable for one book!
MIKE: Well, I can’t guarantee that there will be more Fergus books, but I’ve definitely been working on new ideas for this silly bear. I have to figure out where Fergus would go from his first book, whether it’s more search and find, more practice making progress, or something else entirely. Fergus is my favourite character I’ve ever come up with so far, and I want to make sure I take him in the right direction that really captures his potential.
MARMALADE: As a busy and popular presenter at schools, thanks to the pandemic you must miss visiting schools in person. Have you been doing visits virtually?
MIKE: You’re right, I have been doing a lot more virtual visits with schools since this pandemic started. While it’s not quite the same as being there in person, it’s been a great way to continue to connect with students. I do as many as my schedule permits right now, and ever since another book I’ve done, BAD DOG, was nominated for a Blue Spruce Award, the flood gates have opened on the requests.
MARMALADE: How old are your kids and what do they think of having a children’s author/illustrator for a Dad?
MIKE: We have three kids (10, 12, and 14) who all love books. While they still pick up the odd picture book off my shelf, or encourage me about my latest picture or book I’m working on, they’re really into novels and graphic novels right now. And thankfully, they’ve grown up with me doing this for a career, so it’s pretty normal for them to have a dad who works from home and makes books. It’s my hope one day that they’ll be able to pursue a career that they’ll enjoy as much as I do making books.
My thanks to Mike Boldt for this interview. How lucky we are to have such talented children’s authors and illustrators in Canada! Pat Oldroyd