Gretchen's parents lit the fire of her imagination when they read J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, to her and her twin sister at the impressionable age of six. Of course, she initially imagined Bilbo Baggins as an overgrown rabbit in clothes, but that must have been because of his large furry feet.
Books became her creative outlet. All kinds of books -- especially her father's collection of slim white American Heritage volumes. Many happy days were spent sitting on the floor surrounded by piles of them, scanning their pages for fascinating images and making up stories in her head.
Gretchen loved to draw and fortunately, her parents encouraged her. Her dad, in particular, stoked this combined love of reading and drawing. When she was sick with the mumps, he brought her The Little Brute Family by Russell and Lillian Hoban, for consolation. Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are followed. By then there was no turning back.
Eventually, all this lead to a BFA with honors, the Illustration Department Faculty Award from the Philadelphia College of Art and The Starr Foundation Award from The Society of Illustrators Annual Student Competition in 1982. Upon graduating, she worked as a graphic designer and illustrator at various advertising agencies, in-house creative departments and finally, as the Creative Director of a web design & hosting company that she ran, along with her husband, for ten years.
Later, Gretchen created a world of monsters, including baby monsters, secretive monsters and an entire alphabet of Guardian Monsters. She also illustrated several picture books about the adventures of a clever little bird living on the African plains, and another about a little girl heading into the Amazon rain forest for a picnic with her two companions - her favorite ragdoll and grumpy purple tapir.
Gretchen is both honored and excited to continue her creative journey into new realms of the imagination, with the Storm Literacy Agency.
Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) – https://www.scbwi.org/members-public/gretchen-deahl