Randy has written and illustrated dozens of picture books and has published with Candlewick and Henry Holt. You can visit his website here.

What drove/inspired you to get started?

I was always fascinated by picture books. Before I could read, my mother would read the books to me, and I would make her stop after she read the lines on each page so I could explore the pictures. I usually liked pictures with lots of details and things happening that weren't happening in the text, so I could discover them for myself. I was always "the kid who could draw," so it just seemed natural that this is what I would do.

Do you have any specialized training?

I graduated from Rhode Island school of Design. I had a book deal not long after graduating, but also worked as a freelance designer of children's books for the first few years. It was a great help to see things from that perspective.

Has this been something you've always wanted to do?

Some of my earliest memories are about drawing, and books, and wanting to illustrate them. I wrote letters with pictures to some of my favorite illustrators when I was four years old telling them that I loved their work and that this was what I wanted to do. Uri Shulevitz and Joel Schick wrote really nice letters including pictures back to me, which helped reinforce the feeling that this was something I could do. A few years later I wrote letters to The Beatles, and to my surprise, none of them ever wrote back!

Have there been any obstacles along the way?

When I was around seven or eight I submitted a book of mazes my brother and I had drawn to a publishing company. Every day we would wait for the mail to come. I remember when we finally got a response, my mother tried to explain that we should feel proud because it was a personalized rejection letter rather than the form letters submissions often get. I was a little confused by that outlook, but decided to accept it.

Before you got the all important contract how did your friends and family react to your goals? Were they supportive?

My family has always been supportive.

Now that you have a book/books in print, do you get different reactions from friends and family?

Their reactions tend to vary from "that is great!" to "Wow! That is really, really great!," so I have to read between the lines a little bit for critical responses.

How do you most often communicate with your publisher--e-mail, phone, or snail mail?

We send lots of emails back and forth at the beginning and the end of the process. For the months in-between I am pretty much on my own.

What books do you have in the works now?

As a matter of fact, today I am mailing off the finished paintings for the first book I have written myself. It is called "One Dark and Dreadful Night," and will be out in a year or so.

Any last words of encouragement for beginners?

This can be very difficult. It can (and probably will) take an incredible amount of time and energy. So it is not a career I would recommend to someone unless they were absolutely certain that this is what they want to do. And to that person, my words of encouragement (or warning) wouldn't mean that much anyway, because if it is what you really want, you can find a way to make it happen. Hmm... Is that encouraging?