By Heather Lennon
NorthSouth Books: What inspired you to create a picture book about Coco Chanel?
Annemarie: Actually, I was asked by my Dutch publisher Leopold, and the Dutch Gemeente Museum Den Haag to make a picture book about Coco Chanel. The museum made a blockbuster exhibition about her at the beginning of 2014, ‘Coco Chanel, the legend’.
It was lovely to work on the book! Of course I went to Paris to do some research…
Coco herself inspired me because of personality, so full of energy and convinced she was going to be someone.
She created her own life, to her standards, and designed beautiful clothes and hats. She looked so amazingly beautiful, it was fun to draw her. And… just like every women, I have a little black dress… the reason why? You will find in the book!
NSB: I love that you begin with her childhood, and give readers a peek into how Coco grew up. Did you grow up in Holland and can you tell us a bit about your childhood?
Annemarie: I grew up in Holland in a small house with lots and lots of animals, a very lucky childhood.
I had the opposite character of Coco, as a child I was really, really shy, I didn’t speak at all.
My father bought me a rabbit to take care of, in the hope that I would speak at least to the rabbit…
I don’t think it helped but I still love to draw animals!
NSB: Were you always interested in writing and art?
Annemarie: Yes, because if you are that shy, you do things you can do on your own, without talking.
Of course drawing was exactly the right thing for me to do, and it still is!
The writing came later, when I realized I could make my own stories.
But I still love to work with other writers like Bibi Dumon Tak, Toon Tellegen and Rindert Kromhout.
NSB: What projects are you working on now?
Annemarie: Last year I made a picture book Snow White Knits a Monster (it just received The Silver Paintbrush award, in Holland).
It’s about our goat and her name is really Snow White.
But we have two goats and the other one, a very old lady named Sugar Dora, is a bit jealous… She also wants to be in a book!
I promised her the next picture book is a story about her.
NSB: Have your books been translated into many languages? Are there challenges to working with publishers from other countries?
Annemarie: Yes! Many of my books had been translated in many languages. They have been published in Germany, France, China, USA, Japan, Turkey, Spain, Mexico, Italy, Sweden, Denmark and India.
I also illustrated books with Rindert Kromhout, the Little Donkey series, these are perhaps the most translated ones.