A creative quarantine, talking with author and illustrator Carolyn Watson-Dubisch

Carolyn Watson Dubisch is a children’s book author and illustrator of over 10 books. She is also an accomplished sculptor and muralist. Currently lives and works in Mazatlán, Mexico on the Pacific coast with her husband and three daughters.

How has the COVID-19 pandemic affected you and your work?
Well, at the beginning of this year of Covid it was upsetting because I had several art exhibits I participated in cancelled (one here, one in the United States and one in Copenhagen). Then some murals I was booked to start became“postponed” (and still are), and my mask shop (I create masks for events, plays, Halloween, etc) had almost no orders for months due to the fact that events were getting cancelled. So I had to refocus what I was doing with my work.

I had a children’s webcomic that I’d been developing on and off for about a year, I began to really get it ready for launch online. It’s called “The Dragon in The Closet” and is about a boy named Orin, who was cursed before he was born and tends to get attacked by monsters, he also has a dragon in his closet that sees into the future. I update the story each Saturday and now it’s been running for a year on the Comic Fury website and I have 2 issues of the comic out in print.

I also had been working on a children’s book on and off for the last few years and published it finally last autumn. This immersed me back into the children’s book community and I’ve had great success publishing numerous books since then. One of my children’s books “Fireflies” was just featured on “Story Time with Fergie and Friends”. I can’t tell you how thrilling it was to have Sarah Ferguson, The Duchess of York read my new book!

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Schedules are a funny thing these days. No one in my house is leaving to go off to work or school anymore. It’s all remote. We were getting up early on Tuesdays and Thursdays to rouse my daughter for her early class, but that was about it. I do try to write in the morning because it’s much easier to think clearly and get right into it. Art I can start doing at any time of the day, but writing is so, so much easier after a good sleep.

What do you think makes a good story?
Magic, a sense of wonder and a good twist. I love stories that follow the hero’s journey. Of course, not all of my stories do, but that’s where I’m going with “The Dragon in The Closet”. The most important part of any story I think is a good ending. If it all falls apart what was the point in the telling.

Does writing energize you or exhaust you?
Usually I feel energized. I write short stories, because they are for illustrated books so I’m able to get a great deal done in one sitting. Often if I get stuck I’ll just put it away for the next morning and think about it while I do other things. I have three different stories I’m working on at the moment and I’ve just finished illustrating my next children’s book, “As The Sun Rises, Morning in Mazatlán” which is about this tropical city we live in and I even photographed some local children to use as reference in my illustrations. It should be coming out by the end of March.

Are you still creating masks and murals and other art?
Yes, I am. I participated last April in the Virtual Earth Day Chalk Festival and represented Mazatlán by creating a large chalk mural of planet earth with a massive serpent, and Icreated a chalk mural for Coulored Earth’s International lockdown festival last July. Mask orders have started to pick up again and photographers have been buying my masks for various photo shoots in the US and Europe. So I’m quite busy with various projects.

Where can people find your work?
I’m online on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on my blog “By the Sea in Mexico”. Of course you could just Google me as well. Thank you.