Interview with Molly Ruttan, writer/illustrator of SOMETHING WILD (Nancy Paulsen Books)

I’m honoured to be one of many stops on the weblog tour! Earlier cease, in case you missed it: Maria Marshall interviewed Molly plus gives a giveaway. Do try Molly’s Instagram for more information about her digital guide tour. See Molly’s bio on the finish of this put up, and you can even discover out extra at and her Linktree.

Written and illustrated by Molly Ruttan
Revealed by Nancy Paulsen Books / Penguin Random Home
Publication date: Feb. 28, 2023

You will get a signed copy for those who order One thing Wild by means of Molly’s native bookstore.

E-book trailer that Molly created for SOMETHING WILD

A. Debbie, earlier than we start I need to take a minute to thanks for having me in your superb weblog! What a pleasure to be interviewed by a fellow SCBWI mentee. You’re a nice inspiration to me!

The concept for my new image guide, One thing Wild, has roots that return to after I performed violin in elementary college. Although I used to be hidden within the orchestra, when it got here time for the recital, I used to be terrified! I’ve continued to expertise stage fright into my maturity, as I’ve carried on with performing (as a drummer and backup singer) for a lot of my life.

I’ve additionally at all times been an artist. I tried to pursue my dream of writing and illustrating kids’s books proper out of artwork college, however the calls for of my life and profession made it arduous, and I didn’t know easy methods to start. One of many issues I lastly did, after a few years, was to begin attending SCBWI conferences. It was at one of many regional conferences that I heard some new mates speaking about Marla Frazee’s upcoming class. I signed up. I had no concept on the time how a lot it might change my life!

To all you late-bloomers on the market — it’s by no means too late! You by no means retire from being an artist, of any variety.

Round this time, I started to expertise a newfound sense of freedom on stage after I was performing. When our class was given the duty to create a sequence, I used to be impressed to try to illustrate the way it felt. I painted a brief narrative a few lady who was afraid to carry out, however when she took the stage and remembered how a lot she beloved to play, the stage reworked into one thing wild and exquisite. It felt like the start of a guide, so I spent a while engaged on it, making an attempt to determine what got here subsequent, however I couldn’t resolve it. I put the sequence into my portfolio for the upcoming SCBWI Summer time Convention, and to my full astonishment, my portfolio was one in every of six that received the Illustration mentorship that yr! Successful this contest opened the door.

To all you kidlit creators on the market — be a part of SCBWI, and take part! Nobody can see your mild for those who maintain it hidden.

The mentee winners on the 2015 SCBWI Summer time Convention. Left to proper: Okay-Fai Steele, myself, Nicholas Hong, Anne Berry, Meridth Gimble and Kisoo Chai.


Just a few years of arduous work and dedication handed, throughout which era I signed with my agent Rachel Orr at Prospect Company, and began making books. Quickly the coordinator of an SCBWI regional mingle approached me and requested if I might current my “Path to Publication” to her group. I stated sure, however yikes! My stage fright was triggered. I misplaced many nights of sleep. However someplace within the throes of concern, I knew that the emotion I used to be feeling might be a guide, by some means — I simply wanted to translate it right into a state of affairs {that a} baby would expertise. Then I out of the blue remembered my illustrations from the category — a lady dealing with a recital! I spotted the sequence wasn’t the start of a guide in any respect! It was the ending of a guide!

To all you illustrators on the market — put your coronary heart into your illustrations! Use your feelings and anxieties to encourage new concepts.

Items from the unique “Violin Sequence” I created for a category project. ©2023 Molly Ruttan

In the meantime, a gaggle of us from the unique class with Marla had continued taking lessons together with her. I introduced my concept into a brand new class we had been taking on the time, and spent the following a number of months workshopping the small print with the assistance of those proficient mates. Many drafts later I had a guide dummy, and the remainder is historical past! (Our group is now an artist’s collective known as The Mulberries) 

To all you introverts on the market — You’ll be able to’t stay this life alone. Discovering a like-minded group of individuals to share the journey with could make all of the distinction.

A number of the members of my illustration collective
The Mullberries  ( at a book-signing for Marla Frazee’s guide
Little Brown (2018, Seashore Lane Books). Left to proper: Helen Yoon, Judy Faulkner, Gail Buschman, myself, Annelouise Mahoney, Pleasure Dabby and

I created this guide to indicate how the love and keenness for what we do might help us overcome the concern of being within the highlight. I consider that once we put time and vitality into mastering one thing, it turns into a visceral a part of who we’re, permitting us to belief in ourselves and our skills. As well as, any time we put together ourselves and actually face our fears, the opportunity of popping out the opposite facet as a extra empowered human being exists, and may even be a motivating issue.

I additionally needed to emphasise how supporting and being supported by different folks can actually make a distinction. In the primary character Hannah’s case, I needed her household (who characterize any form of assist system a toddler might have in any given state of affairs) to be a continuing presence all through the guide. I additionally deliberately made the folks within the viewers friendly-looking, with a lot of them smiling. My largest hope is that children really feel impressed and confident after experiencing Hannah’s journey.

Once I turned fifty, a number of (of many) ideas occurred to me. The primary was to have a good time the zero. I at all times love having a zero because the second quantity; it looks like a contemporary begin. The subsequent thought was an affirmation that this was going to be MY decade. My youngsters had been in highschool and school, and my days had been beginning to grow to be much less scheduled, giving me the time to lastly pursue my lifelong dream of constructing kids’s books. My third thought — or sequence of ideas — had been, am I too previous? Did I miss the boat? Is it loopy to begin an entire new profession as I watch all my mates gearing as much as retire?

I used to be haunted by these doubts. However my reply got here sooner or later from overhearing my father-in-law, who was a profitable actor, giving my high-school-age daughter recommendation. When she requested him if she ought to pursue a profession in performing, he informed her, “Solely do it if you recognize you’ll die for those who don’t.”

He was speaking to my daughter, however he might have been chatting with me. Recommendation for the ages! My doubts moved apart as I jumped in.

To all you new creators on the market — Whether or not you’re younger or previous, keep in mind who you’re on the within. Uncover and nourish these sides of your self which might be able to shine, and take motion!

In my studio, engaged on a diffusion for my new image guide,
One thing Wild

I usually start my remaining illustrations with a charcoal pencil drawing; I take advantage of a lightweight desk and begin by tracing it from a remaining sketch.

In celebration of my guide One thing Wild, I’ve begun taking viola classes! I’ve my mom’s viola, which she performed for a few years. She introduced it dwelling after I was 10, and I watched with fascination as my father instantly took it aside and put again collectively, improved. (It took him months!) In my eyes it’s an beautiful, distinctive factor of magnificence, (and the tone is nice)! My fantasy is to have the ability to play a brief tune at my guide signings, however I will probably be fortunate if I can play a scale! We will see … and hopefully my stage fright received’t get one of the best of me!

Molly Ruttan grew up making artwork and music in Hastings-on-Hudson, New York. She went on to earn a BFA in graphic design from the Cooper Union Faculty of Artwork, whereas drumming in an art-punk band. At present, Molly lives, works and creates artwork within the various and historic neighborhood of Echo Park in Los Angeles, the place she and her husband raised three proficient kids. The household has just lately grown with the joyful addition of a granddaughter.

Molly loves exploring all completely different sorts of high quality artwork and illustration mediums, together with making her personal animated guide trailers. She nonetheless performs the drums, sings in a group choir and has just lately began taking viola classes. Her life is filled with artwork, music, household, mates and every kind of pets and concrete animals—even wild parrots!

Her guide titles embody her writer/illustrator debut, The Stray, (2020 Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Random Home) which was listed as a 2021 ALA CORE Golden Duck Notable Image E-book; I Am A Thief! by Abigail Rayner, (2019 North South Books) which earned a starred Kirkus evaluation and received a 2021 Northern Lights E-book Award for humor; and Violet and the Crumbs: A Gluten-Free Journey by Abigail Rayner (2022 North South Books), which has been endorsed by the Celiac Illness Basis. One thing Wild is Molly’s second writer/illustrated guide and has acquired a starred Kirkus evaluation. She has two further books forthcoming. Molly is represented by Rachel Orr at Prospect Company. For extra data, see her linktree:

 “The denouement is a beautiful testomony to one of the best magic of which we’re succesful … combines sweetness, creativeness, and mild humor. Although this story will attraction to all readers, it’s going to particularly resonate with introverts. Brava!”


Ruttan’s … charming, expressive illustrations, in charcoal, pastels, and watercolor, entertainingly interweave the lifelike settings with Hannah’s fanciful daydreams, which properly lengthen the textual content. That is positive to ring a bell with child musicians, and the encouragement of household and rewards of following passions are heartening and reassuring notes to finish on.” 

Additionally see different Interviews with E-book Creators and Recommendation For Younger Writers And Illustrators.