Interview with Bluebird Author Lindsey Yankey

Lindsey Yankey Bluebird Interview

I’m so excited to introduce to you this up and coming children’s book author and illustrator, Lindsey Yankey, who recently published her first children’s picture book, Bluebird (reviewed here). Bluebird follows the story of a little bluebird and her search for her friend the wind, and is available for purchase TODAY.

Tell us a little bit about yourself!

I have a growing collection of children’s books on my shelf. New ones, old ones, ones from the library sales, happy ones, sad ones, ones in languages I can’t read. Sometimes my cat and I get into it over who gets to sit in my studio chair. I often fantasize about what it would be like to discover a new color the world has never seen. I find myself going down rabbit holes researching things like; how many cones do other animals have that allow them to see the color differently, how does the body absorb vitamin-d from sunlight, and all the varieties of baobab trees.


BLUEBIRD is your first children’s picture book printed in the US. What inspired you to become a children’s book author?

I’m working with the folks at Simply Read Books in Vancouver. Bluebird is my first book in English; the others are in Italian. It’s a long story involving two trips to the Bologna Children’s Book Fair, mustering up courage, making a new friend, and discovering my distaste for sparkling water.

I began to piece together that I wanted to make picture books when I started taking studio classes in college. I had changed my mind a lot from education, to art education, to illustration. I rediscovered books I liked when I was little and found new books to admire. I guess a lot of my inspiration has come from reading children’s books as an adult. I think children’s books have the potential to be enjoyed by all kinds of people, young and old. To me the best books possess layers of meanings and interpretations, and have nuances that go unnoticed until the 10th time you open the book. I’d like to lead a happy fulfilling life, and making books combines a lot of my interests; kids, making art, telling stories, education, imagination, research, and tiny details.


 Where did the idea for BLUEBIRD come from?

Most of my stories start with a just blip of an idea, just a thought. One night I wrote down a thought of  “a bird looking for the wind.” At the time I was living in a little house with two of my best friends. I had one of the rooms upstairs and I had slept with my window open out onto the roof of the porch. Early the next morning I woke up, lying on my back and moved my eyes around the room. The wind was blowing the curtain and sitting on my bookshelf by the window was a little house wren. It hopped around on the shelf, flew in a circle, and straight back out the window. After that I started to develop the idea of a bird looking for the wind. Why would it look for the wind, where had the wind gone, and how do you express the absence of something you can’t see?


What was the creative process like? Did the illustrations come before the story or the story before the illustrations?

The story developed over the last 6 years or so. Bluebird has gone through loads of drafts, and the imagery has grown with me as I’ve developed my way of making illustrations. For the final illustrations in the book I made multiple thumbnail sketches establishing the composition, the goals of the illustration, the movement from one page to the next, etc. I like to use a lot of different materials, so making the final illustration depends on what mediums I’m using.


When do you work on your art? Where and what time of day? What music do you listen to? Or do you prefer silence?

I work from home in a tiny room I share with my studio mate, Meo, the cat. Sometimes she interrupts me for a good scratch and pet. It’s a cozy little room. I try to work during the daylight hours; in the past few years I’ve noticed I my color choices and quality control slip as the day turns to night. Some of my favorite artists to listen to are Devendra Banhart, The Kinks, The Velvet Underground, Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings. The last year or so I’ve found myself spending a lot of time with audiobooks and talk radio shows like This American Life and Radiolab.




You come from a family of artists – Your father is a ceramicist, your brother is a photographer, your sister is a painter, and you yourself an illustrator! What was it like growing up in a home that openly embraced the arts?

Awesome. We lived in the country without cable, internet, and neighbors. I guess that can sound like torture for some and paradise to others. For me, I think it was a great place to grow up learning to entertain yourself and make your own fun. Both my parents encouraged us to play creatively, build, draw, make, and paint. I spent many diligent hours drawing the characters from our giant red velvet book of Disney stories. As a teenager my parents were nice enough to let my sister and I paint on our bedroom walls and ceiling. I guess I’ve always had art in my life, but I did take some serious time away from it to play sports, then dabbling back into art in college. It’s pretty special to have a family who supports art and who also know so well the reality of trying to make art a profession.



What picture book did you read over and over and over again as a child?

Hmmm, honestly I can’t think of my favorite picture book from when I was little. I know I spent a lot of time with the collection of Disney stories; I know I liked The Mitten, Good Dog Carl, Balloon Farm and Where the Wild Things Are. I remember a book called Heckedy Peg mortified me and it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized the mom in the story in fact did not cut off her legs to save her children from a witch. When I was a bit older I was in love with Roald Dahl’s books and Quentin Blake’s illustrations. I still re-read those books.

self portrait as a child

self portrait as a child

What’s next and new? Do we see more children’s books in your future?

Yes, I’m working on another picture book, and if all goes well it will be finished later this year. It’s a story I’ve worked on back and forth with for years, and I’m really pleased to see it come to life. In short, it’s about the sun and the moon.


2 Responses to “Interview with Bluebird Author Lindsey Yankey”

  1. Danzel says:

    I took a look at this book at Watermark Books in Wichita, this morning. (Big stack!) It is BEAUTIFUL! Congrats, Lindsey Yankey!


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  1. […] friend and co-worker Rebecca at Sturdy for Common Things reviewed a new picture book Bluebird and interviewed local author and artist Lindsey Yankey and you should check out both. I don’t usually buy picture books but the art in this one is […]

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