Harbinger Extra: Marilyn Scott-Waters – Interview with the Artist

Follow the Path! 24 incredible illustrators and artists have picked their favorite scenes and characters from HARBINGER to give you a taste of Faye’s world. Each week, in the gallery at the Holbrook Academy website, a new illustration will unlock…

This week’s art reveal is hosted by: Daisy Chain Book Reviews!

Faye's Sketchbook from Harbinger. Artwork by Marilyn Scott-Waters

SWE: Hi Marilyn!

I love your illustration of Faye’s sketchbook. Can you tell me why you picked this?

Marilyn: I love sketching things from my day and I started wondering what kinds of things Faye would draw at Holbrook Academy.

SWE: I love the idea that you were kind of sketching as Faye. It feels amazing to peek inside your version of her sketchbook!

Have you always drawn and painted?

Marilyn: Always! My mom was an art major and we always had paper and paints growing up. We four kids were encouraged to “entertain yourself” so we put on plays, wrote our own comic books, and generally made a mess.

I have a compulsive routine. As soon as I drop the boy off at school I rush home, get a cup of coffee and am glued to my desk until five. I have an iMac with a giant screen that I love and a cat on my desk most days. I keep a to-do list with boxes and it gives me immense pleasure to check things off when they are done.

SWE: When did you first decide to become an illustrator?

Marilyn: I decided that I wanted to be a children’s book illustrator when I was in college and I saw an interview of Maurice Sendak and he set his own work schedule. It took me a long time to get to that point though.

SWE: It took a long time because of learning how to discipline yourself, or because it’s such a hard business to make your way into?

Marilyn: I got sidetracked into a shadow career of product designer. I made money designing clothing lines but something always was missing. It was great experience and I learned a lot about print design, product process and how things get made.

SWE: I understand lure of a shadow career, it’s easy to end up doing almost what you want, but not quite. I will join the masses of people who are glad you ended up illustrating and creating incredible paper toys!

Do you have a favorite kid’s book?

Marilyn: My favorite is an obscure British book called “Uncle” by J.P. Martin and illustrated by Quentin Blake. It’s about a very rich elephant who has all kinds of bizarre adventures. He’s very pompous and is always at odds with his shiftless neighbors of Badfort. The characters are wonderful and Martin created a fantastic fantasy world.

SWE: That sounds awesome… I’m gonna have to track it down.

Orangutans or squids?

Marilyn: Squids, they have ink.

The Toymaker's Workshop and The Toymaker's Christmas by Marilyn Scott-Waters

SWE: Nice!

How about your own work? You’ve illustrated The Search for Vile Things, but you also work in less tradition mediums too, with The Toymaker’s Christmas: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself and The Toymaker’s Workshop: Paper Toys You Can Make Yourself. Why did you start making your paper toy craft series?

Marilyn: I self published a book of paper toys in 2004 and sold out two print runs. I get a huge amount of traffic on my website and it was a good way to supplement my income. Then, my lovely agent, Jamie Weiss Chilton, got me a two book deal with Sterling Publishing.

SWE: Which came first? Your website or your books?

Marilyn: I started my website, www.thetoymaker.com, in 2003. I’d started my own design company and was doing a lot of menswear. There are only so many cargo pants you can do before your eyes blur over so I bribed myself to get through the workday with the promise that if I got done I could draw something fun. I ended up with a closet filled with paper toys. The internet was pretty new and I thought it would be a good challenge to try to make a pretty website and give toys away to kids. It really took off from there. I have over one million toys downloaded a year.

SWE: Where do you look for inspiration?

Marilyn: I collect books on paper toys and there is always the internet. I also love sketching in art museums.

Marilyn serenades us on her ukelele

SWE: How about people that inspire you?

Marilyn: My husband Ronn. He is made out of awesome. He can fix anything, reads books outside the bathroom and made me a ukelele for Christmas.

SWE: Oooooo! Ukeleles! Can we see a picture of it?

What are you working on now?

Marilyn: I’m working on the second Haunted Histories book with my writing partner, J.H. Everett. The first book comes out next summer. It’s about a kid named Virgil who is a Ghostorian and talks to ghosts.

An illustration from Haunted Histories by Marilyn Scott-Waters and J.H. Everett

SWE: A Ghostorian…I love it! Any chance we could take a peek at some of the art? Pretty please?


And now… drumroll please…Wonder Woman or Supergirl?

Marilyn: Buffy.

SWE: Best. Answer. Ever.

Thanks, Marilyn!

To learn more about Marilyn Scott-Waters or make some of her awesome toys, go to The Toymaker website!

Don’t forget to check out Marilyn’s books!

Marilyn, holding the Advance Reader Copy of HAUNTED HISTORIES.


One thought on “Harbinger Extra: Marilyn Scott-Waters – Interview with the Artist

  • Absolutely delightful. Thank you both for the wonderful interview! That illustration from Haunted Histories is beautiful, as is Faye’s sketchbook!

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