Happy Valentine's Day, parents, librarians, book fanatics, writers, and readers of all sorts! #SeasonsOfKidLit is absolutely thrilled to kick off our Valentine's Day Bash with a very cool character: Stig, a Viking in Love. We have the incredibly talented author and illustrator of Viking in Love, Doug Cenko, with us today sharing this unique and humorous love story. When Stig, a kitten-loving Viking, spots Ingrid, it's love at first sight. Stig finds out the sea, his biggest fear, separates the two of them. Will Stig be able to overcome his fear for Ingrid? Want to know more about Doug and his adorable book, PLUS want a chance to win one of three copies of Viking in Love? Read on...
Q: Hi, Doug! Thanks for joining #SeaonsOfKidLit. We’re thrilled to have you and hear all about you and the books you author and illustrate. For those who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting you yet, you are the author and/or illustrator of nine picture books and counting, including titles like Little Monster Trucks Go!, My Papa is a Princess, and My Mama is a Mechanic. How fascinating! Can you share a little about how you got started in children’s books?
A: Thank you for chatting with me! I've loved children's books for as long as I can remember, but it wasn't until my daughter was born that I started to create my own books. I initially just wanted to focus on being an illustrator, but eventually had some of my own story ideas and realized how much I enjoyed writing as well. To make things even more interesting, I have a book coming out in 2024 where I'm the author and it's being illustrated by someone else.
Q: Your book, Viking in Love (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2021) follows an adorable Viking named Stig as he conquers his fear of the sea for love. This is such an adorable and humorous story. What gave you the idea to create this book?
A: The idea came about when I was drawing with my daughter. She mentioned that I had to give a heart to the little Viking character I was drawing because at the time she drew hearts on everything. I made him holding a little valentine, and after that I knew that I had to figure out this little Viking's story. I wanted to know why he had the valentine and who he wanted to give the valentine to.
Q: That's such a fun backstory to how Stig and Ingrid came about! I absolutely love the illustrations in Viking in Love. Can you share a little about the illustration process with us?
A: I usually start sketching on paper and then finish the art digitally. My preference is Photoshop and a Wacom Cintiq, but sometimes I use Procreate and an iPad. Some day I'd love to illustrate a book traditionally, but it would be a much slower process for me.
Q: What were some of your favorite spreads to work on from Viking in Love?
A: One of my favorite spreads is when you first glimpse the sea and start to understand Stig's fear. The original sketch for this spread wasn't nearly as wild, but my agent, Laurel Symonds, suggested that I push it even more, and I'm glad she did. If you look closely, you can find Ingrid riding a sea monster and the boy who gives Stig his floatie. Also, I like that my editor allowed me to have a few wordless spreads towards the end of the book.
Q: We loved getting a closer look at Viking in Love, Doug! Does Stig have any other adventures on the horizon?
A: Stig and Ingrid's next book is coming out this July! It's called Viking Strong and it focuses more on Ingrid. A Strongest Viking Competition comes to town that Ingrid has always wanted to enter. The only problem is that she doesn't know how to swim. Will she come out on top, or will she find out that there are more important things than winning?!
Thanks again for joining us, Doug! We look forward to checking out all of Stig's and Ingrid's adventures!
Doug is offering a sweet treat for Valentine's Day - a chance to win one (1) of (3) books!
Giveaway Details: To enter to win a copy of Viking in Love, leave a comment below and let Doug know why you can't wait to check out his Viking book series! If you share this post on social media, let us know that too (for an extra entry into the raffle). The winners will be announced on Sunday, February 12th, just in time for Valentine's Day.
*Note: books will be shipped in the US only.
Want an extra sweet treat? Doug's also offering these FREE printable Viking in Love Valentines. You can print them by clicking the PDF below.
Bonus: Those who leave a comment on all Valentine's Day Bash posts will be eligible to win one (1) of five (5) Rate Your Story Speed Passes, that are doubly sweet. They'll contain feedback from your hosts Heather Macht and Lynne Marie!
About Doug Cenko:
Doug has been working as a creative professional for over 15 years. His work has been seen by millions of people worldwide on dozens of concert tours, films and television shows.
He grew up in Northwest Indiana raised by two wonderful parents and an Atari 2600. His first job was at a comic book shop where he spent the majority of his $3 an hour income on the very thing he was selling. The rest, of course, went towards fireworks.
After college, Doug interned at StarToons, one of the animation studios behind the Animaniacs, making even less money than at the comic shop. From there, he combined his love of illustration and fireworks and started working at Strictly FX, a live special effects company. While at Strictly FX, Doug has designed special effects for shows including Wrestlemania, the Academy Awards and Pitch Perfect 2.
Doug is currently living in the city of Chicago with his two harshest critics - his beautiful wife and daughter.
To purchase Doug's books on Amazon, or to leave a review, click here.