Wednesday, October 31, 2012

"The Next Big Thing" (theoretically of course, and not at all presumptiously)

I was blog tagged by my lovely friend and supporting authoress Amber June, and it gives me the chance to ramble about my book, and give out probably not previously aforementioned glimpses of my process and background story.  So, here goes: 

Ten Interview Questions for The Next Big Thing:

What is the working title of your book? 
Penelope's Perfect Pet

Where did the idea come from for the book? 

Huh, it stems from a few things.  It started with a couple of watercolor illustrations that I was trying my hand at.  To see if I should delve into the illustration thing or not.  Because I am not spread thin enough on my current repertoire of creative/artistic endeavors.  hah!  There is a reason my friends, that this blog is entitled "Rampant Eclecticism".  If you are being polite you can call me a Renaissance Woman.  But honestly and put simply I had previously refused (and still hesitate to do so) to be pegged into one specific genre of artist.  I have a very eclectic skill set.  Which unfortunately means I am master of none of it.... so far.  It is mostly a fear based sort of thing.  (and there are too many awesome things that I wanna do!)  Which I am trying to overcome by focusing on illustration.  Anyway..  I really liked the idea of juxtaposing wild animals into normal everyday life domestic scenes.  I like animals, so the book (and my subsequent actual focus on illustration) sort of evolved from those two pictures. 
The bear is no longer in the book, and I also never finished his setting (he was meant to have trampled a rose bush by a mailbox.)  The elephant is going to be in the book, but not this exact illustration anymore.
What genre does your book fall under?

Children's Picture Book
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? 

Ummm..  honestly no clue.  Incredibly rarely do they ever make children's books into movies.  And pretty much then, it has got to be a Caldecott winner book at the very least.  You have to be legendary, like Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak.  I feel presumptuous enough for one day.  Mostly though, I'm too lazy to really think about it.  Visually when I picture the characters, I picture my daughter Sohvi, who is the model (and partial inspiration for the main character), and my niece and nephews who did all the reference poses as her older siblings.  I don't have any interest in changing that visual image, so I don't want to pick out actors that look like my relatives. 
Sohvi, and my niece and nephews, one of whom is just an interested observer, as they pose for an imagined scene in which they play tug-o-war with a tiger.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Penelope endeavors to dream up and then find the ideal pet for herself, which must also be better in every way to the pets of her siblings.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I would like it to be represented by an agency, though I have yet to even try to find one.  I tried the self publishing thing with my and my sister's Ted the Hamster book, and re-realized not only do I hate self marketing, but I'm also terrible at it.  Either that or I need to face reality and realize it isn't as good as I think.  I was printing them myself (because I could do quality control, and every other financially available alternative looked horrific).  Which is a really, really dumb idea.  Mostly though, the Ted book was a very nice practice in finishing things, so I could convince myself to be able to take on finishing this book, MY baby. 

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

First draft?  Not very long.  It isn't really word heavy.  It is very much image heavy.  It was probably written out in one sitting.  Honestly though, I really don't remember.  I started it when my oldest, who is nearly 9, was about a year old.  That was a long time, and many brain cells ago.  And I haven't focused on the writing part of my book for a really long time. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Jumanji for its usage of juxtaposed animals.  Where the Wild Things Are in terms of visual storytelling.  I try to have it show you what is happening, rather than tell you.  There are a few pages of only pictures and no (or one or two) words on the page. 

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

As clich├ęd as it may be, my kids and my husband, who has been my biggest support and listened to my whining crap and encouraged me when I felt like giving up.   It all started when I found myself at home, a new mom adjusting to my new life, in a new city (Portland) and desperately needing to submerge myself deeply into a Real Grown-Up Defined Creative Endeavor.  I had graduated with a bachelor's degree in Visual Art (with no emphasis, I wussed out of the BFA degree) less than a year before and had done virtually nothing with it, besides a couple of boring landscape oil paintings just for fun.  As I had been focused instead on starting a family.  Which was glorious and terrible, and is the hardest and the best thing I will ever do.  But my creative beastie was antsy to say the least.  It refused to be sequestered in the dank corners of my psyche.  And my oldest daughter even as a baby loved picture books.  And I thought, my art could fit in, in a kid's book.  And then, hey, I could do this.   I should do this.  I love words AND art, it is the perfect marriage of my skills.  I will do this.  And so I did.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

It has an alligator in a tub, with it's tail in the toilet. What little kid (and me) doesn't think that is the funniest thing ever.

And I'm not going to play by the "rules" and tag anyone. I will link to others in my support group who have done this and throw out the hope that Willow will join in the madness, but no-one is under any obligation to do so.

Amber June (aka A.J. Snodgrass? right?) 

and the lovely J. Larkin

(both of whom are incredibly talented, brilliant, funny and also helpful in bolstering my authorial confidence)

I will also list other illustrators whom I admire and follow, but do not know on a personal level, so the invitation and links to their blog probably may likely not result in a playing of this game. But I would be tickled and flattered if they did. But in the spirit of fellow support for what I would hope to be my peers I will throw out blogs I know of, of these illustrators of whom I admire. Though they are all actually successful in publishing books and I am not. (yet) (cross your fingers)

Sarah Jane

Julie Olson 
Will Terry