Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Ellen Feld is talking with Cynthia Bardes, the author of Pansy in Africa
FQ: For readers not familiar with your series, would you give a little background on how the Pansy series developed?
BARDES: One day, when crossing Wilshire Boulevard, I was struck by a car. My injuries required surgery and a lengthy recuperation at the hotel. While bedridden, Pansy kept me company and her popularity with employees and guests of the hotel started me thinking. She is very curious and spunky, I imagined her having all sorts of adventures while I was laid up.
FQ: And how did the real Pansy come into your life?
BARDES: I saw her little pansy-shaped face and it was love at first sight!
FQ: Pansy has been all over the world – what made you decide it was time for her to take a trip to Africa?
BARDES: Well, I went to Africa some years ago and I remember the effect it had on me and my daughter. Seeing animals in their own environment. I know how much children love animals, and the importance of showing them places and other people.
FQ: Have you selected the next part of the world, and the next mystery for Pansy and Avery to solve or is it still a “work in progress”?
BARDES: Currently, Pansy in Rome is being illustrated, to be released in October 2019.
FQ: Your Pansy series has been quite successful. How many books do you envision in the series? Are you full of ideas for future stories, just begging to be written?
BARDES: I have tons of ideas! There is no limit to the number in the series. I hope to keep going as long as there is an audience.
FQ: I love the idea of a Pansy stuffie. How do children react to seeing a stuffed Pansy that they can have to bring home? Has it had a positive impact on book sales?
BARDES: Kids love seeing the stuffie with the books. But, honestly, I think the books sell the stuffie so they haven’t increased book sales.
FQ: Your stories, along with Virginia Best’s illustrations, are really the perfect blend that brings each great adventure to life. Tell us a little about your working style? Do you talk frequently, go over every illustration in detail, or let Virginia’s imagination run wild and see what she comes up with?
BARDES: After I write the story it is edited to a workable version, then Virginia and I meet for an 8 day brainstorming session at a delightful Vermont Inn. This way we can focus without any distractions and we create the storyboard with very basic sketches to work out images and text. Virginia then takes this document back with her and I wait to see what she comes up with. She is amazingly creative, and her color is wonderful.
FQ: From your website, it looks like you’re very active at book signings. Do you enjoy these events? Getting feedback from your fans? Do they ask you about the real Pansy?
BARDES: I love book signings and meeting Pansy’s fans. Sometimes I am able to bring her with me and the kids are so in love with her. She is a gem and handles all the attention with true diva grace and poise. Feedback from children and their parents is invaluable.
FQ: Speaking of Pansy, how is she handling her fame?
BARDES: Pansy is a pro! And she loves all the attention.
FQ: Have you ever considered writing in a different genre? Would another genre interest you or do you plan to stay with children’s books and/or the Pansy Mystery series?
BARDES: I actually wrote the outline for a novel several years ago, but never got back to it after I started the Pansy Series. There are so many story ideas for Pansy that I don’t know if I’ll ever find the time to go back to it.
FQ: The books in the Pansy series are all “heirloom quality” with thick pages and oversized dimensions. With so many books from big publishers resorting to inexpensive paper with print that comes off on your hands, etc., your quality books are refreshing. What made you decide to put quality over cost?
BARDES: I have fond memories of my childhood books, passing them along to children and granchildren. That’s important to me and I wanted to create something that would be a permanent addition to a family. Something connecting the different generations.