Southwest Children's Literature

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Clarence Goes Out West and Meets a Purple Horse

Author Interview with Jean Ekman Adams:

Photo of Jean Ekman Adams

1. What made you become interested in drawing and painting?

I became interested in drawing and painting because my father was an artist - an illustrator - and he worked at home, so I could always hang over the back of his chair and watch him work. I loved to draw a little, and he always encouraged me, but I never felt I had any chance at success in art, mainly because he was so good. I did not begin to really draw until I was grown up and married.

2. What inspired you to write stories about Clarence and Smoky? Is there any special reason that you use a pig and a horse as the main characters of the stories?

My son thought up the idea of Clarence and Smoky. I wanted a great pig name, and he came up with Clarence. Our family dentist, a good friend, was named Clarence, and he had a horse named Smoky - so that's where I got my idea! I love to draw pigs, and I have always owned a horse, so it was natural to put in a horse, too. By the way, in real life, the real Clarence could not find a home for the real Smoky when he got old, and Smoky was headed for the livestock auction. Fortunately, he mentioned it to me, and a friend and I were able to persuade Clarence to give us Smoky. Together we found him a wonderful home in Tucson where he lives with another older horse and a retired cow! He is very happy.

3. What suggestions would you give to children who want to be an artist in the future?

For children who want to be artists, here is my suggestion: draw what you like to draw the best. What you enjoy drawing is what you are going to be best at, and I would not listen too much to other people who are telling what they think you ought to draw. Look a lot at illustrations in books, and it is OK to copy them, because before long, you will be doing it your own way. You have a talent like no one else's, so don't try to be anyone but yourself.

4. Do you plan to write more stories about Clarence, Smoky and Edgar in the near future?

I really don't know if there will be any more Clarence and Smoky stories or not. If there aren't any more, well, then I am happy with the way the third book ended - they are together and they are headed off on another adventure together. A lot of the future there depends on the publisher and if they want to print another Clarence and Smoky book. Smoky and Clarence are very real to me, and you just never know, I might HAVE to write another story about them!---

This interview was conducted online in November 2003.

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