Today we're talking with Cynthia Bardes, author of Pansy in Paris: A Mystery at the Museum
FQ: This is the second book in your “Pansy” series, the first being Pansy at the Palace: A Beverly Hills Mystery. Where did the idea to write about an adorable toy poodle’s adventures come from?
BARDES: There were no mystery picture books for children 4-7 that I was aware of. Having been hit by a car and laid up after surgery, I decided to write a story. I live in a hotel so that was the inspiration for the first book.
FQ: The storybook Pansy is based on your real poodle Pansy. How much of the real Pansy finds her way into the stories?
BARDES: Pansy does roam the halls of the hotel and is very curious about everything.
FQ: Why Paris for your second book? Have you spent a lot of time in that beautiful city? And what drew you to wrapping the mystery around a museum?
BARDES: While a dress designer for 13 years, I spent a lot of time traveling to Paris. Art was also one of my majors at Sarah Lawrence College, I studied a lot of art history. Recently, I took my grand daughter Avery to Paris to visit museums. We then went to Venice and I just finished the third book, Pansy in Venice - a mystery which will be out in the fall of 2015.
FQ: Avery, the little girl in the story, is absolutely adorable. Is she based on anyone?
BARDES: Yes, my grand daughter, Avery.
FQ: I love the ‘Dog Day at the Museum’ event! Where did that idea come from?
BARDES: When I started writing the story, that was the first scene that came into my head. All the dogs in the scene were drawn from pictures of dogs belonging to close friends.
FQ: In the story, Avery and Pansy take a walking tour of Paris. It was fun and I believe teaches children a little about this amazing city. Was that your intent?
BARDES: Yes. I wanted to give the "feeling" of the city and keep it fun.
FQ: I understand that your illustrator, Virginia Best, also has poodles. Is that what brought the two of you together?
BARDES: We started working on layout and manuscript ideas together. I found out she was not only an abstract painter but had been a drawing major in college. The poodles were a bonus.
FQ: One thing I love about good children’s books is the way the illustrations help to tell the story. Would you tell our readers a little about the process? How do you and your illustrator, Virginia Best, work together? Do you make suggestions that she then interprets? Do you ask for specific details? Do you meet/discuss often?
BARDES: We start off by breaking up the text into pages. Then a rough concept sketch for each scene. More discussions, then a drawing. Any changes which are necessary are finished and then the color. We meet at least once a week (when in town) and email all the time.
FQ: Will Avery and Pansy be going on another adventure soon? If so, would you give our readers a little peek into what you have planned next for them?
BARDES: Yes, we are off to Vienna! There's an important parrot who disappeared.