Widgets Magazine

Chatting the North Fork with Danielle Malmet Rodger, Children’s Book Author, Painter & Mom

Q: The North Fork figures so prominently in your work; are you from here? A: No. I got out here—I didn’t know about the North Fork growing up, I grew up in Westchester County, went to U of Rochester, moved to the City, started doing graphic design there.

I met my children’s father in college, and he grew up in Mattituck. So when were in the Big City, I used to come out here a lot and absolutely loved it. Several years later I just made the move. (My kids & I call NYC the Big City to distinguish it from Riverhead.)

We lived in many of the different towns out here until we settled on the bustling hub of Greenport, where I still live now. I’ve lived here for about 10 years.

I always felt that I was meant to be here, meant to live by the water. I was a water child, and there’s something so down to earth and genuine about this place.

Q: Why do you love the North Fork?

A: Besides the obvious—the beaches, the farms, the open landscape, the vineyards—it was the communities. All the different communities, the warmth of the place, the people. The North Fork, though there’s been a lot of changes out here, there’s still a raw, untouched feeling out here.

The changes have been made thoughtfully, carefully. We’ve made changes but we haven’t really changed. There’s something really comforting about that.

And it’s just an amazing place to bring up your children. I feel very fortunate to be able to the North Fork with them, I feel very grateful for that.

Q: You’re involved in many different types of projects, as your website makes clear. What do you call yourself—I mean, as a career-type label?

A: I think of myself as a creator—I write, I am an artist, I’m a mother. I’m always looking for new things, and in being happy in where I am. I love working with flowers, design; design in all forms.

Because of this close community everyone kind of helps each other out. I’m always just reaching out, finding something inspiring, doing a new thing.

Q: Do you have a day job?

A: Yes, I work part time at Clarke’s Garden and Home, and I get to design there, and I get to work outside, doing landscaping. I create terrariums, different floral designs. I really enjoy it.

image3

Q: You mentioned that you write. You’re a children’s book author?

A: Yes. My books are “Adventures of the North Fork”, and they’re a series, one for each season. I started writing them about four years ago.

I’ve always done art with my kids, since I was a stay at home mom. Another part was reading, we’d read at night. When I looked I found it was very difficult to find children’s books about the North Fork, and I know it’s important for kids to have books about where they live, so I decided to write one.

I wanted to share with my kids all about what’s wonderful about here. I think it’s important that they understand how lucky they are to live here, and all the things that they have to be grateful for because they live here.

image2

Q: Wow, so you weren’t always a writer?

A: The books came from being a mother and an artist more than author; that’s really the inspiration.  I’ve taken a lot of poetry classes, did a lot of writing in college, but it’s not something I’d done professionally before.   It was incredibly wonderful to have something that was just my own.

It took me three years in total to finish the series—I honestly thought I’d never finish it.

Q: How did coming at the books from that perspective influence the books?

A: I tried to incorporate memories of my kids. For example, I hid a tractor on every page because when I would drive my kids in the car—it can be challenging to drive kids around in a car, and I wanted them to look out the window--we’d play ‘spot the tractor.’

The books focus a lot on color and the landscape and the experience of living out here. They’re playful. I was careful about how long they were, whether they would be enjoyable for the parents too.

Q: You said the books are a series. Should they be read in order?

A: They don’t have to be; they all stand alone. They’re a ‘series’ but not in the sense that one builds on the other, it’s just that there’s one for each season.

I should mention I worked in collaboration with Lisa and Scott Krecler on the layout and graphic design, and in turn I illustrated her book, The Kindness Bracelet. She lives on Shelter Island, so those illustrations are very typical of the Shelter Island landscape, which I love. That’s also a beautiful children’s book.

Q: Where can someone get a copy of your books? Are they on Amazon?

A: No. You can get the books at local businesses—I do all the marketing and distributing myself. In Orient you can find them at the Old Orchard Farm Store. In East Marion stop in to Fork & Anchor.  In Greenport you can find them at One Love Beach, Goldsmith’s and Burton’s Books. In Southold find them at White Flower Farmhouse, and in Cutchogue go to Phoebe and Belle. On Love Lane you can find them at Bauer’s.

Q: You’re not just a children’s book author, though—you’re an artist too, right?

A: I paint—I’m a painter. I’m also a photographer. I have paintings at One Love Beach in Greenport, I had a show at Greenport Harbor Brewing Co. Some of my work is on my website.

My kids attend Peconic Community School in Aquebogue, and I do all the design for their events—I made huge dream catchers for their fundraiser this year.

image4-2A lot of the local business owners contributed to that. I love working with the community.

I love interior design, I’ve done a lot of that with friends and family. I love staging houses that are for sale, and I'm exploring opportunities in that area.

image5-2