An Interview With 12-Year-Old Published Illustrator Alyssa Brulz by Author Brigitte Brulz

Please welcome picture book author Brigitte Brulz and illustrator Alyssa Brulz to Frog on a Blog. This talanted mother-daughter duo’s new picture book Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure was published last month. I really like the bold, colorful art of this concept book, which works well to tell the tale of a little bird that crashes on a deserted island. Each page or spread highlights one letter of the alphabet and continues in order as the story progresses.

Brigitte contacted me about sharing a post in which she interviews her daughter with the hopes of inspiring other kids who may be interested in writing or illustrating and publishing their own books. And I thought it was a fabulous idea! Let’s hear from Brigitte and Alyssa!

Interview with 12-Year-Old Published Illustrator, Alyssa Brulz

Conducted by Brigitte Brulz

Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure is a comical story told in alphabetical order with only one to three words per page about a bird who is blown away and crashes on a deserted island. Will he figure out how to get off the island? And who – or what – is following him?  

Since there are less than 40 words in the entire book, the illustrations are crucial to telling the story of Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure.

I am excited to share an interview with 12-year-old Alyssa Brulz, illustrator of this newly released picture book, which received a Readers’ Favorite Five Stars review.

Q: How did Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure start?

A.B.: Aah! Blown Away, Crash! was started when my mom went to one of her monthly writer group meetings in 2017. Someone mentioned a challenge of creating a book similar to Oops, Pounce, Quick, Run!, with the words in alphabetical order. In response, my mom came up with a draft of Aah! Blown Away, Crash! She, my sister, and I created a “dummy” with paper stapled together. Since then, the book has changed quite a bit – both the text and the illustrations. Mom brought the dummy to her writer group. They suggested a few tweaks and some of them thought my mom should pursue getting the book published. By that point, she had published two picture books, Pickles, Pickles, I Like Pickles and Jobs of a Preschooler, so she was familiar with the publishing process. She didn’t want to do the illustrations, so she hired me.

Dummy and actual finished copy of Aah! Blown Away, Crash!

Q: What was the illustration process like for Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure?

A.B.: It took a lot of research – shadows, birds, islands, palm trees – to make objects look realistic while still being cartoonish. I used Affinity Designer for the illustrations, and if you have a careful eye, you might be able to see that most of the objects were actually made with simple shapes. My sister also helped by making the bird out of clay and pipe cleaners, so I could see how it would look from different angles.

Clay bird model

Q: What did you enjoy most about illustrating it?

A.B.: My favorite part was working on the expressions. The only character in Aah! Blown Away, Crash! is a bird, whom we affectionately named Finch (even though he really isn’t a finch). Some of the expressions he made were absolutely hilarious to me. In real life, I love to watch the expressions on people’s faces when they’re excited, angry, sad, surprised, etc., so working with the body language Finch needed to have was super fun.

Q: What was the hardest part?

A.B.: I think the hardest part was that both my mom and I had our own opinions about how the illustrations should look, so it was a little challenging to create pictures that we were both satisfied with. We obviously figured it out and tried to go with the best option.

Original idea to final “U” page in Aah! Blown Away, Crash!

Q: What was something you learned?

A.B.: Just one thing? I learned A LOT, from how to use Affinity Designer more effectively to how to work with what you have to make something great. I watched some videos and did quite a bit of research while doing the illustrations to help me learn more.

Q: What other projects have you been working on?

A.B.: My 13-year-old sister and I recently published an activity journal titled Write, Draw, Believe: 75+ Faith-Building Activities for Christian Kids, which I had a ton of fun making. My sister was the ideas person, and I created most of the graphics for it. We hope other kids will really enjoy it. We plan on reaching out to various people, bookstores, and churches to sell our journals. Also, I have been writing a middle grade novel for a couple years now and am on the third draft. That project has been one of my favorite writing projects, and I hope it will eventually be published.

Click here: Write, Draw, Believe: 75+ Faith-Building Activities for Christian Kids

Q: What advice would you give to other kids who want to be published?

A.B.: I have realized that you really shouldn’t doubt yourself. Many people don’t think they can actually be published, but that is a myth. Try to use whatever talents you have and do your best, no matter what. Learn a lot. If you are writing, read and write. If you are illustrating, examine other illustrations and draw. For whatever you want to do, learn and take action.

Q: Where can people go to learn more about Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure and your journal?

A.B.: Since I am not technically allowed to have my own website until I am thirteen, the best place to contact me or learn more about Aah! Blown Away, Crash! and the journal my sister and I created is my mom’s website. You can visit www.brigittebrulz.com under the Books and Journals tabs for more information. I also helped my mom create a teacher’s guide and other fun extras to go along with Aah! Blown Away, Crash!, which are available on her website under the Fun Extras tab.

Thank you, Alyssa, for showing others it is possible to be published even at such a young age!

Click here: Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure

Alyssa Brulz is a 12-year-old homeschooled student who knows the alphabet in English and in French. She used a computer program to create all of the illustrations for Aah! Blown Away, Crash!: An Alphabet Misadventure, which is her first published picture book.

Brigitte Brulz is a homeschooling mom, author, journal creator, and freelance writer. She offers free coloring pages, activity ideas, and more information on her website at www.brigittebrulz.com.

Thank you so much Alyssa and Brigitte! Your interview is sure to be an inspiration to kids everywhere who like to write and make art and who’d love to share their stories with the world.