Monica Carnesi is a librarian by day and author/illustrator by night (and weekends!) She is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, so she speaks Portuguese (and a little bit of Spanish.) She loves animals, with a soft spot for dogs, all kinds of art supplies, and dark chocolate.
I tend to think visually -- an image of an illustration will pop into my mind and from there a story may flow. It may start with an idea, a news report (as was the case with Little Dog Lost) or a what-if scenario. An illustration soon follows and that's how the process gets started. When working on a book, I start with pencil sketches, which are then inked and painted with watercolors. I also like to use colored pencils. I still work on paper -- no digital techniques are used. In large part, this is because I use computers a lot on my day job as a librarian, so when I'm ready to work on an illustration, I just want to use my hands and art supplies!
That's an easy question! I already do the other job: by day I'm a librarian with the Free Library of Philadelphia. If that was not the case, my next option would be to own a children's bookstore. I'm sure you can see a pattern here: in whatever job I'm doing, I really want to be near children's books.
I think the biggest challenge for me is getting the words and pictures just right, planning the page turns to build up the story, and making sure the book is the best it can be. Luckily, writing and illustrating a picture book is a very collaborative effort. You may see only my name on the cover, but all authors and/or illustrators count on a lot of help to get to the final books -- that includes getting feedback from editors, art directors, and book designers. Their input is invaluable!
The best advice I have is to read, read, read -- make reading part of your daily routine. Read to babies, read before bedtime, read a picture book quietly, one-on-one, or read aloud a chapter from a novel. Take advantage of your library and attend story time. And be a reader yourself, set the example. By doing so you can show children how much fun reading is!