Gail E. Haley oral history interview 10, 2007 July 2
Gail Haley, an author and illustrator of children's literature born in Charlotte, North Carolina, recounts her career during the early 1990s. In this tenth of sixteen interviews, Ms. Haley discusses her work on Puss in Boots (1991). Ms. Haley relates that the origin of the book was a request from her publisher to retell a fairy tale. She selected the story of Puss in Boots because of her love of cats but initially struggled to find resources on the history and significance of the story. During the interview, Ms. Haley reflects on her work on the illustrations. She describes using her own cat, Clarence, as the primary model for the character and depicting boots which looked as though they would fit a cat's paws. Ms. Haley also discusses utilizing artistic techniques that she mastered in previous works such as The Post Office Cat (1976) and Birdsong (1984), including the use of grey outlines transferred using a light box, photographing models, and contrasting tones in images with lighter colors in the background. Throughout the interview, Ms. Haley tells stories of her various cats. Other themes in this interview include marketing's influence on the publishing world and the contrasting values of social justice and materialism presented in the story of Puss in Boots.