Sandra Fay - A Lion & Dragonfly Interview

Sandra Fay - A Lion & Dragonfly Interview

Sandra Fay - A Lion & Dragonfly Interview


We can't get enough of The Very True Legend of the Mongolian Death Worms and neither can our customers.  We caught up with author Sandra Fay to learn a bit about the inspiration for this hilarious tale - and what she's planning next!

Can you tell us about the inspiration behind The Very True Legend of the Mongolian Death Worms?

There are a lot of children's books about popular mythical creatures like mermaids, dragons, and especially unicorns. I wondered if there were any lesser-known legendary creatures that might be interesting for kids (and adults) to learn about. I did some internet research and discovered the whole world of cryptids: legendary creatures that possibly really exist. Most people know of Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster, but when I came across the Mongolian Death Worm, I was fascinated. This creature is so bizarre and its name is hilarious - I had to write a story about it.

What is your favorite page of this book and why?

My favorite page is of the worm family sleeping. I like the composition: an architectural cross-section with an interlocking pattern of tunnels, the worms arranged in size order, and all of the worms' eyes vertically aligned. My agent said it looks like Tetris - which I took as a big compliment.

Mongolian Death Worm

What are you most proud of from this book?

That I actually managed to get something published. It took ten years but it finally happened!

What inspired you to become an author?

I used to be an architect which I did not enjoy much. It was too serious, too impersonal, and there were too many practical problems to solve. I always loved illustration as it seemed the opposite - it could be personal and fun and you don't have to worry if it's not watertight or where the bathrooms are located. Combining illustration with storytelling appealed to me as you can reach an audience emotionally with humor and whimsy, and you don't have to take yourself so seriously.

What is your favorite part about being an illustrator?

Designing quirky characters that are a perfect balance of cute and weird.

What do you think are the ingredients for a great children’s book?

A story and characters that connect with the reader emotionally. Humor and a satisfying ending help too.

What children’s book (other than your own) are you recommending to friends at the moment?

My favorite children's book: The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip by George Saunders, illustrated by Lane Smith. It's a poignant story about the human condition. It's so quirky with understated humor, and the illustrations are dark but beautiful. 

The Very Persistent Gappers of Frip 

What are you currently working on?

A picture book called The Three Little Tardigrades. It's a reimagining of The Three Little Pigs, with a family of tardigrades instead of pigs. If you don't know what a tardigrade is, you can google it ...or wait for this book to come out in April 2023.

(MB's note: of course we had to google it!  Fun fact: Tardigrades are micro-animals also known as water bears or moss piglets that are nearly indestructible - they can even survive in outer space!)

Who are your favorite authors and illustrators?

I have already mentioned George Saunders and Lane Smith. But there are many more... 

Oliver Jeffers and Jon Klassen have had a huge impact on me. All of Oliver Jeffers books have been a big inspiration. But when I first read I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen, I was completely in awe. It is so bold, simple, and humorous. And it never occurred to me before that a picture book could also be a design masterpiece.


I also love the work of Mo Willems and Bob Shea. Humor is not easy to do well, and they are both so hilarious! They are also talented artists that design great characters.


And...The Fan Brothers, Shaun Tan, Marianna Coppo among others.  Oh there's also Andy Stanton - that guy is wacky and very funny.

Interview by Abby Gallagher



  • That interview demonstrated how with great imagination, and great illustration skills, the author is able to capture and connect with the reader’s mind. She bought the worms to reality, as they did the ordinary things we human beings do in our everyday life. A happy ending is always very touching.😍

    Alby JUNG on

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