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- Gail E. Haley oral history interview 13, 2008 January 18
Gail E. Haley oral history interview 13, 2008 January 18
Gail Haley, an author and illustrator of children's literature born in Charlotte, North Carolina, recounts her career in the 1990s. In this thirteenth of sixteen interviews, Ms. Haley recalls her work on Dream Peddler (1993). Ms. Haley describes how she was inspired to write this story while conducting research at the Library of Congress when she came across the story of John Chapman, the legendary Pedlar of Swaffham (a small town in Norfolk, England) who followed his dream and discovered a fortune in his own backyard. Ms. Haley was intrigued by the peddler's surname, which she connected with the selling of chapbooks, works of popular literature illustrated with simple woodcuts. She discusses the history of printing practices and chapbooks, and relates her decision to change the time period in her story to the 18th century when children's literature was emerging as a genre. In addition, Ms. Haley recalls the inspirations for her illustrations, which included the works of William Hogarth as well as images from original chapbooks. She also describes the techniques used to create the illustrations, including the utilization of a light box to transfer sketches onto canvas and layering paint on canvas to prevent stretching before painting the final image with acrylic paints. While discussing her illustrations, Ms. Haley highlights her usage of symbols and authentic historical illustrations to produce accurate depictions in order to create an enriched educational experience for children. Other themes in this interview include the importance of dreams, Ms. Haley's early collaboration with Francelia Butler, and her visit to England to research the town of Swaffham and the old London Bridge.