Trisha Speed Shaskan

Trisha Speed Shaskan has written more than forty books for children, including the picture book Punk Skunks, illustrated by her husband Stephen Shaskan. Trisha lives in Minneapolis with her husband, cat, and dog.


What was your favorite book when you were a child?

My favorite children’s book is The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame because the River, nature and its cycles, and friendship capture my childhood. I grew up in a Mississippi River valley town, Winona, MN, like Ratty who lives on The River that grips “things with a gurgle,” and flows through the story connecting Mole and Ratty as does nature and its cycles. Grahame’s springtime has “birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting—everything happy, and progressive, and occupied.” Grahame’s lyrical language sings on every page and universally captures the seasons I experienced wading in the creek, catching snowflakes on my tongue, and splashing in the puddles. But the heart of this story is the friendship between shy Mole, good-natured Ratty, the impetuous Mr. Toad, and the worldly Badger. The characters aren’t just well developed; they are wonderful friends to each other. No matter what happens in the Wild Wood or world beyond they help each other get out of trials and tribulations. Friendship brings hope as do the return of each season and the flow of The River—all constants in a changing world.

What’s your favorite line from a book?

“The night Max wore his wolf suit and made mischief of one kind and another his mother called him ‘WILD THING!’ and Max said ’I’LL EAT YOU UP!’ so he was sent to bed without eating anything.—Maurice Sendak, Where the Wild Things Are

Who are your top three favorite authors or illustrators?

Kate DiCamillo
Dav Pilkey
Kenneth Grahame

Why did you want to become an author or illustrator?

When I was in college, I was writing stories, but not for children. I took a course in children’s literature and began to explore all the unknown treasures I hadn’t read, which included The Hobbit and James Marshall’s George and Martha stories. I fell in love with the canon! And I wanted to write for children.

Do you have any advice for future authors or illustrators?

If you want to become an author, pay attention to all kinds of stories—books, movies, and TV shows. Ask yourself what you like and dislike about the stories, then try to emulate what you like in your own stories. Also: write! And write some more! Crafting stories takes practice. The more you write, the better you’ll become.