I just got back from my grandfather’s memorial service, where I delivered a slightly modified version of my recent tribute as one of the eulogies.

In my how’ve-you-been conversations with various relatives, most of whom I hadn’t seen in at least two years, my writing career came up, and folks were curious about how all that works, anyway.

Without exception, the thing that surprised people the most was the fact that it’s a common practice in the creation of picture books for there to be no direct collaboration between the author and the illustrator: There’s the relationship that the author has with the editor, and then the relationship that the editor and the art director have with the illustrator, but often no tête-à-tête between the word person and the image person.

It doesn’t have to be this way, of course. My S.V.T. illustrator and I are friends on Facebook; it just doesn’t get much more intimate than that.