Interview with Anne Dana

In the book, Pierre starts out living in the center of Paris. That seems like an odd location for an octopus. Why Paris
So I’d have an excuse to go do “research” in one of my favorite cities. Also, that’s where I found the little hand-knitted octopus that became the inspiration for Pierre. I was vacationing in Paris, exploring the city’s lovely, distinct neighborhoods. The original octopus was in a toy bin in a children’s store in the Marais district.
We’ve been wondering, what’s the proper plural form of “octopus?”
It turns out there is some controversy about whether the “correct” plural is octopuses, octopodes or octopi. The true “correct” form is probably octopodes (since the root word is ancient Greek) but octopuses and octopi are also so widely used, I think they are also acceptable. The only incorrect form is on a menu!
Anne, Monsieur Pierre is a picture book starring an octopus. Why an octopus?
Well, I definitely have days when I think it would be useful to have 8 arms…actually, the story was inspired by a cute, little hand-knitted octopus I found in a bin of children’s toys. All the other stuffed animals in the bin were more typical kid’s toys: bear, dog, cat. The surprise of finding an octopus launched Pierre into my imagination.
A lot of children’s picture books have a “message.” Does Monsieur Pierre have something you want children to learn or take away from the story?
Monsieur Pierre is designed to take young children on a satisfying adventure illustrated with humor. There’s not a “message” that hits you over the head but I hope Pierre’s fans enjoy his discovery that there’s a place with friends for everyone and sometimes you just need to be a little bit adventurous to find yours. Sure, picture books can be a way of delivering a message or lulling our children to sleep. But beyond this, reading picture books aloud to children is such a wonderful activity and so important to children’s development that my publisher has dedicated part of their website to providing tips and resources to make it easy and more fun for both children and readers. Whether it’s bedtime reading, long-distance reading, finding the right picture book, all kinds of ideas are at
What was your best moment creating this book?
There were so many great moments bringing Pierre to life. The illustration of him interacting with the Mona Lisa was one of the first ones I conceived of for the book and one of the first ones I drew. I really fell in love with the character at that point and enjoyed playing with the theme of being a tourist in Paris.
Do you have a special place to write and draw?
I’m lucky enough to live on a motor yacht in the small town of Sausalito, California. We are docked in a harbor on the San Francisco Bay. I love sitting in the yacht’s salon watching the sea life and birds while working on my picture books. Our town is very popular with the tourists that come to San Francisco. A lot of them cross the Golden Gate Bridge to visit little Sausalito. Our yacht is located right downtown so I get to have a little bit of Pierre’s experience with lots of tourists from all over the world.
What writing or creativity tool do you find necessary?
Meditation and walking! I’m pretty good at keeping a daily routine to work on my current picture book project. I find the writing and drawing flows much smoother when I also have a regular meditation practice and when I make time to get into the great outdoors. Both help open my imagination and I can take that back into the studio to work.
What’s your top tip for an aspiring picture book author?
There are lots of great classes to help you learn to write and/or illustrate picture books and to learn about the industry you’re getting into. I took two classes I highly recommend from Mira Reisburg at the Children’s Book Academy, Also, I encourage aspiring picture book authors and/or illustrators to join and use the extensive resources available at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators,
What’s your favorite bookstore
I have to vote for two favorites (1) Book Passage in Marin County and San Francisco is an amazing independent bookstore that goes far beyond being a source for great reads. It’s also a wonderful place to take classes related to books, writing, reading and publishing and to meet authors from all over the world and (2) It may sound like heresy, but I’m also a huge fan of Smashwords and Amazon. I like my books both in print and eBook format and I greatly appreciate the ways in which these services open the world to independent publishers and authors.
Sounds fun! How do we connect with you?
I love to hear from fans of Monsieur Pierre! Please email me through my publisher at
One last question: Can we keep an octopus as a pet if we let him live in the bathtub?
Sorry, but no. Unlike Monsieur Pierre, real octopodes (octopuses, octopi) prefer salt water and a hiding place. However, you can go visit an octopus at an aquarium near you Meanwhile, here’s a short video about a new, cute octopus discovered in 2015 in Monterey Bay, off California
Published 2017-04-24.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Monsieur Pierre
Price: Free! Words: 70. Language: English. Published: April 24, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Animals, Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Friendship
Meet Monsieur Pierre! A lonely octopus leaves his Paris fountain in an adventurous journey full of surprises for kids 3-5