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Author, Lane Smith

Lane Smith

About Lane Smith

An Interview with Lane Smith

More About Lane Smith

LANE SMITH was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma on August 25th, 1959. His family moved to Corona, California when he was three, but spent the better part of every summer back in Oklahoma. "My family would take the old Route 66 highway. I think that's where my bizarre sense of design comes from. Once you've seen a 100-foot cement buffalo on top of a donut-stand in the middle of nowhere, you're never the same."

Lane has one brother, whose name is Shane. "Shane and Lane. My Mom thought this was funny. Really. A real hoot. However, HER brothers were named Dub, Cubby, Leo and Billy- Joe! My Dad's brothers were Tom and Jerry! I SWEAR this is true!"

"I had a great childhood. We lived in the foothills, and my brother and I spent all of our after-school time exploring, building forts, collecting lizards, etc. My favorite time of year was Fall, when the wind would start up and the air grew colder. I lived for Halloween and I loved the old Universal studios' monster movies. Shane and I would watch them, then read each other horror stories with titles like Tales to Tremble By. The foothills were full of dry bushes and desert trees and in the Fall we'd get a lot of creepy looking tumbleweeds blowing through our backyard at night. I used to lay awake in bed and imagine what wild adventures might be happening in the hills. I think some of those memories later evolved into THE BIG PETS.

Lane supplemented the money his parents were putting towards his college tuition by taking a job at Disneyland. "I worked at Disneyland for about five years as a janitor. Only we weren't called janitors, we were called custodial hosts. One of my duties was to clean out the attractions at night. It was great to be left in the Haunted Mansion all alone. Another duty was to clean up after someone if they got sick on the Revolving Teacup ride. Like I said, it was great to be left in the Haunted Mansion all alone."

After he graduated from college with a B.F.A. in Illustration, he headed for the Big Apple with a small portfolio of illustrations.

Since then his work has appeared on the covers of The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, Sierra, American Bookseller, The Progressive, Time, Newsweek, Mother Jones, and Ms.

"A lot of reviewers have misidentified my technique as airbrush or dyes or even egg tempera. I think this is because it almost looks as if it was sprayed with paint with little dots of color and texture visible. Actually, my work is rendered in oil paints. I paint on board, building up several thin glazes of the oil, sealing them between coats with an acrylic spray varnish. This not only dries the oil instantly, but also causes a chemical reaction between the oil and the acrylic. Normally, it would be a mistake to combine two opposites like this and in fact it was a mistake the first time I did it, but I liked the results. I'm a big fan of artists who play with surfaces. I love texture and grunge. The trick is to know when to stop. Sometimes I keep adding more and more layers until I've ruined the piece. Usually I stop when the painting starts to look interesting. Then I go in with a fine brush and add details, lights and darks, etc. It's a laborious process, but it's unpredictable and it keeps me interested and surprised. Of course, I'm influenced by other illustrators too, like N.C. Wyeth, Maurice Sendak, Arthur Rackham, Edward Lear, Gustav Dore and Tomi Ungerer. I hope I can follow the path these dark illustrators have walked, or at least use the sidewalk that runs alongside it." copyright ? 2000 by Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers. All rights reserved.

PLACE AND DATE OF BIRTH:
Tulsa, Oklahoma; 25 August 1959

FAVOURITE BOOK:
The Carrot Seed

MOST TREASURES POSSESSION:
Gum

FAVOURITE SONG:
It's different every day. Today it's 'Nightherder's Song' by Tex Ritter

FAVOURITE FILM:
Sherlock Jr. (Buster Keaton)

When did you start writing?
About five minutes ago. Oh, you mean when did I start writing stories, not this questionnaire? When I was ten years old.

Where do you get your ideas?
I steal them from Jon Scieszka.

Can you give your top three tips to becoming a successful author?
1. Write every day.
2. Brush your teeth, comb your hair, trim your nails.
3. Write every day.

Favourite memory?
Winning the Oscar for Mary Poppins. No, wait, that was Walt Disney. Uh... I don't remember.

Favourite place in the world and why?
New York City. Why? Big buildings. Big entertainment. Big bugs.

What are your hobbies?
I run a retirement home for old fleas who have gotten too old for the flea circus.

If you hadn't been a writer, what do you think you would have been?
An illustrator - which is how I spend most of my time.

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