Interview with Mom’s Choice Award-Winner Celia Jones

Celia Jones Featured Image

Mom’s Choice Awards is excited to announce another post in our interview series where we chat with the inventors, designers, publishers, and others behind some of our favorite family-friendly products.

Hello, Mom’s Choice readers! Welcome to another installment in our ongoing interview series. We were so excited to sit down with one of our Mom’s Choice Honoree’s, Celia Jones. Celia Jones is the author of the award-winning Halloween picture book, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?! In clever rhyme, Sad Ghost roams the rooms of his home, always with a tear in his eye. Hauntingly drawn, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost? displays Celia Jones’ gift for whimsy and detail. If you’re looking for the perfect book to read to your child during this spooky holiday season, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost? is a perfect choice! Keep reading to find out more about Celia and her award-winning book, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?!

MCA: Hi Celia! Thank you so much for joining us today. As a fellow lover of Halloween, I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed reading Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?! It puts you right in the spooky spirit and is an instant Halloween classic from start to finish. I’d like to start this interview by finding out a little bit about yourself. Tell us about your background, I heard through the grapevine that you used to work as a Rural Postal Carrier? 

Celia's official author photo for Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?, in which she is holding Sad Ghost himself.

Celia’s official author photo for Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?, in which she is holding Sad Ghost himself.

Celia: I’m an artist first and foremost, but the next best occupation for me is my work as a Rural Postal Carrier. I get to drive a boxy old mail truck and coast up to street-side mailboxes to deliver envelopes, periodicals, and packages. People like to see me coming through their neighborhoods, and the job makes me feel needed and appreciated. It’s taxing physical work, but I relish spending my days outside.

I’m a sucker for a good story, and most of my hobbies are centered around story lore. From reading books to engaging in role-playing games, to telling visual stories with photographs, the projects I create all deal with storytelling. Napping is another pastime for which I wish I had more time. Dreams are the source of most of my inspiration. Many if not all of my paintings have something to do with a dream I had. The images just come to me, and I often feel a desperate need to put an image to canvas, and thus make my imaginings real.

MCA: As Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” Can you tell us more about what the path to your storytelling looked like?

Celia: Mom read to my brothers and me every night up until our teen years. We read books of all kinds, you name it. But I remember cuddling up next to my mother to look at the picture books she read to us, and me just pouring over the pictures, trying to find every detail. The tiny things always made me happy. My love for detail has never waned. The book writing and illustrating that I now do come directly from my mom as well. While I was young, she was writing her first novel, and of course, I wanted to help, so she asked me to draw a few scenes and characters — not to be included in the book but to give me my first taste of storied illustration. These pictures still hang in her workspace.

MCA: That is very sweet, I’m sure it is very inspirational to her! You can really get a sense of your love of Halloween throughout Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?. Tell us where your love of Halloween stems from!

Celia: Candy, obviously! But also the creativity of the costumes, the cool weather, crunchy leaves, spooky atmosphere, and a chance to indulge in a holiday without preparing the house for grand meals and lots of company.

MCA: It’s definitely a great start to the holiday season! Can you explain to our readers how your inspiration behind writing and illustrating Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost? came from a treasured family Halloween decoration?

Celia exhibiting her first self-portrait at Freeman Elementary School, which opened the school district's gifted art program to her.

Celia exhibiting her first self-portrait at Freeman Elementary School, which opened the school district’s gifted art program to her.

Celia: I’ve helped decorate our home for Halloween since before I can remember. The decoration that fascinated me most was this dear little ghost with shiny silver tears streaking down his face. Perhaps it was the smooth curves, the slightly grainy texture, or the unanswered question that intrigued me: why did this poor ghost cry? There had to be an answer. No one could give it to me, so I made up a story. Once I’d earned my degree in Fine Arts and mastered the technical skills, I was able to bring this ambition to life. I’m thrilled with the result in the form of Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?

MCA: I can attest, the result turned out amazing! Tell us about the development of your artistic talents from other influences and from schooling!

Celia: Because of a self-portrait I drew in pastels in elementary school, I was accepted into the school district’s gifted art program. It struck me as odd because I didn’t particularly try to make myself look good in this portrait. I just drew it as I saw myself. The program was designed to encourage young artists, and I must say I was encouraged. I adored every art class I took, making good friends with teachers and creating works of art all the way through to college. High school was where I fell in love with oil paints. This medium felt so natural to me, so perfect for conveying the detail I love. John William Waterhouse, who painted in the Romanticism movement of the 1800s, was a huge influence on my college works. I was captivated by his genius for story or myth-telling in a single, beautifully rendered, and detailed composition. Details have been a blessing and a curse in my work. I love them dearly, but it certainly slows down the production of my projects!

MCA: You mentioned some other projects that you’ve been involved with. What are some of the other artistic expressions and professional commissions you’re currently working on?

Celia dressed for Halloween as Ghost Rider. Her artistic skills enhanced the make-up process.

Celia dressed for Halloween as Ghost Rider. Her artistic skills enhanced the make-up process.

Celia: I have several ongoing works: my dramatic webcomic is called Minus Touch. Its concept came to me in a dream. I’ve begun a series of paintings with commentary, similar to The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole, and updated to the modern era. I‘ve also designed book interiors as well as covers for several novels, including The Virgin of the Sun by H. Rider Haggard, with an interesting Incan influence. Most recently, of course, is my picture book, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost?

MCA: That all sounds very exciting, it sounds like there’s is no shortage of creativity for you! If you could ensure readers of your book walk away with one main lesson, what would it be?

Celia: My message, perhaps, would be that hope is always at hand, and that it is all right to feel the feelings you have. Sad Ghost is my character’s name; a sad ghost is who he is. But he does have other feelings. In the end, he is happy, he smiles, but tears still mark his face. His range of emotion makes him no less of a ghost. Because he is a spirit, his existence is limited, but, like all of us, he should do what makes him happy. As the questioning narrator leads us to realize, you are responsible for your own happiness. For Sad Ghost, the joy of Halloween is his bliss.

MCA: That is a wonderful message! Thank you for giving us such a special “treat” for this haunted holiday. Be sure to keep us posted with all of your upcoming projects!

You can learn more about Celia Jones and her award-winning book, Why Do You Cry, Sad Ghost? by visiting her MCA Shop pages.

Interview With Celia Jones

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