Sunday, February 12, 2017

Julianne DiBlasi Black: The IAN Interview

Julianne DiBlasi Black is a mom, Buddhist, vegetarian, eclectic playlist-fueled graphic designer, multidiscipline artist and illustrator. Who also writes. Her project Sleep Sweet is gaining national attention as a therapy tool in Children’s hospitals nation-wide including University of Michigan Mott Children's Hospital and the UF Health Proton Therapy Institute in Jacksonville, Florida. Combined with it’s Augmented Reality counterpart - the Spellbound App (multi-platform) the book takes on new dimensions and is shattering the confines of traditional hospital stay with leading-edge momentum.

IAN: Please tell us about Sleep Sweet.

Sleep Sweet is a multi-award winning children’s bedtime book, that has been adapted with Augmented Reality technology to bring viewers a complete multi-sensory experience. It is being used as a therapy tool for calming anxiety and helping to distract young patients in children’s hospitals across the country. 

Viewed alone, the book is full of sweeping and fairytale like illustrations with repetitive almost suggested-mediation style text. But paired with a mobile device and a $0.99 app from Spellbound, viewers hear narration, interact with characters, enjoy ambience noises like running water and crickets and hear a beautiful acoustic guitar melody composed specifically for this book. The end result is magical, and I love getting feedback from hospitals about how it helps the kids get through a difficult process or just plan relax.

IAN: Is Sleep Sweet published in print, e-book or both? 

Yes! Sleep sweet is both printed and available in an e-book version, but I prefer the paper. To me it has more snuggle-into-the-covers appeal. Both the digital and the printed version of the book will work with the app.

IAN: Tell us about the Spellbound App and how it enhances the reading experience.

The Spellbound app uses the mobile device’s camera to recognize the illustration, then the 3D scene appears hovering over the existing page on the device. Users can touch the animals on the screen for reactions, have the book read out-loud or just listen to the original score- a gentle, lullaby looping classical guitar solo that is sure to please any age. 

The Spellbound app was just named on the Top Ten Trends in Reading and Book Apps for Children (Publishing Perspectives, Feb 2, 2017: Publishing Perspectives / Article by Porter Anderson) list and Made Nexus Magazine’s 5 Mind Blowing Augmented Reality Apps article (Jan 31st, 2017, )

IAN: Where can we go to buy Sleep Sweet?

On, for direct sales or through me at for signed copies. I would also like to offer the Independent Author Network a discount for checking out my interview - go to and enter in the coupon code JEZMRCF5 for a 15% discount on Sleep Sweet!

IAN: Which writers/books inspired you when writing Sleep Sweet?

I’ve always loved the classic bedtime tales like Goodnight Moon and The Busy Spider. While I enjoy all forms of children’s literature, I loved the idea of a book particularly designed for bed time. Something that could cary the reader far away to dream land. The illustration work is more painterly than those titles, more dreamlike and fluid. It is kind of a hybrid of my own fine art style and digital illustration.

IAN: When writing Sleep Sweet did anything stand out as particularly challenging? 

I think creating a succession of events leading from wide awake to fast asleep in the limited time frame of a picture book was the most challenging. The illustrations feature her getting more and more tired, finally falling asleep. It was difficult judging based on reading it aloud, how that would translate when reading it to a child. Too fast and they miss the point and don’t have the time to get relaxed, too long and you’ve become boring to the adult reading it. It was an interesting balancing act.

IAN: How did you come up with the story of Sleep Sweet?

Sleep Sweet is both a ritual my daughter and I share at bed time as well as all the stories I’ve told her about my life and where I want to take her some day. Many of the illustrations are from my own trips to Africa, Panama, Alaska and across the US. The book is a guided meditation, a dream journal and a vision board all at once.

IAN: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Fortunately I developed my art circles of friends and cohorts early on and through social media, they have been expanded and brought with me anywhere I find myself. With such an awesome global support network already in place that were used to seeing my work and giving great advice, it was an easy transition to begin showing them my illustration work for the children’s books and then the full books themselves. Some of my closest friends are people I’ve never met, but through creativity and the bond of offering up yourself for review - and of course the marvel of digital relationships - I’m grateful to be well-loved and supported.

IAN: What are your ambitions for your writing career?  Full time?  Part time?

Because I am both an author and illustrator/artist I would love to do both part time, essentially creating a full time creative career. Currently I am working on several YA novels as well as a line of coloring books, but I’m also juggling fine art exhibits so I already stay quite busy with both :)

IAN: When did you decide to become a writer?

I’ve always been interested in short story and poetry, but when my daughter was born, I began creating stories based on our adventures, using her as a model. In the last four years since she was born, I’ve put out ten children’s books, all having something or other to do with our home, her development or silly things we share that other parents can relate to.

IAN: What do you like to do when not writing?

I’m really into hiking and camping, traveling and exploring the natural world. I find most of my inspiration in ancient cultures and the timelessness of the planet so when I have downtime I work to refill that inspirational well and fantasize about my upcoming projects.

IAN: Tell us about your next book or a work in progress?

Because every project has its own ebb and flow, I tend to juggle many at a time. I really invite other authors and artists to connect with me, my contact info is:




Niume : 


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