Emerging Author-Illustrator Resource Page

Merle Geode is a fiscal year 2022 recipient of a Creative Support for Individuals grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.


My name is Merle Geode and if you are a fellow emerging author-illustrator, including those of you whom are dreaming into that possibility, this page is for you! I am writing from the vantage point of an author-illustrator-in-the-making. I have the privilege of now living in Minneapolis, MN where my literary horizons have exploded in the best possible ways. I moved here in late 2017 after living for 13 years in a state that consistently ranked dead last for arts funding (this year they moved up to 49th.)

The move was necessary. I have since had more support for my creative practice than I have ever had in my life. It is that stark a difference. MSAB Creative Support for Individuals grants have been a major form of that support. This page is something that I wanted to create for the public, and especially underrepresented aspiring and emerging author-illustrators to share some of what I am learning along the way.

This will essentially be a space to share topics that are filtered through my multidisciplinary way of working. Some of what I share will be on the philosophical/theoretical level: craft choices, research, etc. And I also plan to show snippets of my own process as I take a picture book idea closer to the finish line of submitting a dummy for consideration by agents, which is part of the 2022 grant activities.

I realize I have had certain privileges and opportunities that have informed my process and so much credit is due to the work of BIPOC writers and poets before me whom have made some of these opportunities possible in the first place, such as the Loft Literary Center’s Mirrors & Windows program, co-founded by Dr. Sarah Park Dahlen and Bao Phi. I was a part of the first cohort in 2019. Before that, I enrolled in a six week picture book workshop with author Molly Beth Griffith, which is where my manuscript went through some radical revisions. Meanwhile, my dog Claire was dying and in the liminal stages of advancing doggie dementia. It was in this tender time that my picture book was born. In truth, Claire showed it to me in a shamanic journey in which I met her in her dreams.

Because a book is still so soft-headed before it’s born, I am keeping certain details close, however the end goal is to give visitors to this page a sense of how they might cross-apply certain processes and approaches for themselves, rather than this being about my personal picture book. This is about what’s beneath the surface, and to remove some of the mystery if you find yourself starting at ground zero.

May you take what you need.

In community,

Merle Geode

Books for me are a bit like planets. Initially, there’s a lot of gas and dust floating around in space – different ideas, sketches, notes – and through some gravity of their own, these things gather into something with mass, density, and (if lucky) some interesting life and meaning. 

Shaun Tan