by ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
Late in the process of publishing The Chill, author Michael Koryta pitched the idea of including pictures in the novel to his editor. And he knew exactly who he wanted to draw them.
April Strawn, daughter of a friend of Koryta’s, was “blown away” by his proposal. At the time, she was 16 and a junior at Edgewood High School. “At one point it hit me: ‘Oh, this is really happening,’” she says. “I didn’t think I’d be illustrating a book this early in my life, and I was so happy to help him out.”
The Chill is a supernatural novel published in February 2020 under the pen name Scott Carson, and the pictures helped capture the point of view of an 8-year-old character. “The biggest challenge was for April to tone down her work and make it look like an 8-year-old did it,” Koryta says. “She was taking feedback and meeting deadlines, took it like a total pro.”
When Strawn first saw the book, she admits she got emotional. “I saw his name, I saw my name, and showed all my friends—‘Look what I did,’” she says.
Koryta has known Strawn most of her life and always recalls her with her sketch book. “I’ve always been interested in art and take advantage of any class in art,” Strawn says. She enjoys drawing character designs of creatures and monsters. “I would love to do a graphic novel one day.”
The end of last year saw Strawn working on applications for the Art Institute of Chicago, Bowdoin College, and the Rhode Island School of Design. Koryta describes her as very empathetic, adding, “That helps her art. She’s a visual storyteller. She can do anything she chooses to, and I’m excited to see what that will be.”
For more images of Strawn’s work, check out instagram.com/tia_drawgon.