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Birth of a Children's Author : A rough pregnancy and the delivery of a healthy daughter led artist Debra Frasier to explore writing and to publish her first book.


TARZANA — Debra Frasier's pregnancy was anything but textbook. She endured months of hospital confinement and intravenous feeding after losing 35 pounds because of a rare disease that made her extremely nauseous.

"Miraculously, the baby was never in danger," said Frasier, a visual artist who was 36 when her healthy daughter, Calla, was born in 1988. "I had lots of time to go inside myself. It was about as close to continuous prayer as I have ever been."

During those bedridden months, Frasier was forced to rechannel her energies from textile artist to writer.

"In the dark quiet of the hospital, I started receiving this very special gift," said Frasier about the notes she jotted down while a tiny life grew inside her body.

After Frasier gave birth, she realized her writings were a unique combination of her own experience mixed with a huge sigh of relief that said, "We're so glad you've come into our lives."

"I knew that I wanted to try writing a children's book, but I didn't quite know where the process would lead me," she said.

"On the Day You Were Born" (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1991), Frasier's first picture book, has traveled a path that the new author could not have imagined. It received the Parents' Choice Award in 1991 and has been produced in Minneapolis for children's theater. The book also has been used by teachers--especially in Minnesota--to inspire students to write their own books by focusing on community and world events that occurred on the day they were born.

The book, written and illustrated by Frasier, also changed her outlook as an artist. With a young daughter to care for, projects naturally took longer. Everything functioned at a much slower pace. With a mother's insight, patience had even greater meaning.

This "incremental learning process" is as fundamental to her artistry as the technical specifics of how she produces her unusual illustrations. Both aspects will be discussed by Frasier at the author's program at Pages Books for Children and Young Adults in Tarzana on Saturday.

"What makes her books so wonderful is their sensitivity and exploration of the world around us," said bookstore owner Darlene Daniel. "Her work functions on so many levels. She sets a tone of unity with the universe.

"Her style really fits into what we try to bring our customers--quality literature that connects the reader with lasting and significant issues."

Besides "On the Day You Were Born," Frasier also will discuss her most recent illustrations for Kim Stafford's "We Got Here Together" (Harcourt, Brace and Co., 1994), a book that flows like a sequel from "On the Day You Were Born." With figures that explode off the page, Frasier uses a sophisticated Japanese tie-dye wrapping called "Shibore" to create striking images of the ocean and sky.

"I've always been fascinated by that point where the horizon and the sea touch--the mystery of it," said Frasier, who was mesmerized by the Atlantic Ocean as a child growing up in Vero Beach, Fla.

"At that point, there are secrets that are revealed," she said. "It's learning to listen to those secrets and answer their questions that are the road maps for our life and art."

Where and When

Who: Author Debra Frasier will present a program and autograph copies of "On the Day You Were Born" and "We Got Here Together."

Location: Pages Books for Children and Young Adults, 18399 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana.

Hours: 11 a.m. Saturday.

Price: Free; autographed books must be purchased at Pages.

Call: (818) 342-6657.

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