Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My Next Big Thing

The Next Big Thing is a global blog tour to showcase authors and illustrators and their current work. I was tagged by the super talented (and fellow Ringling Alum) Wilson Williams, Jr.

I decided to post about my newest picture book idea in progress....

Then after the Q & A I'll pass it along to Meridth Gimbel , Jessica Young, and Alison Lyne who will pick up the tour on June 6th.

1) What is the working title of your next book?
Bernadette's Ghost Light - though this is totally a working title as I'm terrible at titles! As I divulge information on the story line I might be taking suggestions for real titles....

2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
I'm a huge theater buff and a few years ago I read Frank Rich's memoir, Ghost Light. His life is a very compelling story. In the book he describes what a ghost light is - a simple light left on in a theater all night so that the theater never "goes dark" and risk bringing ghosts and bad luck with the darkness. In Rich's memoir the theater itself was a ghost light during his troubled boyhood. I was struck by both the literal and figurative idea of the ghost light. At any rate Bernadette does not have a troubled childhood... except that she's the smallest of her family with the smallest job at the theater and one very modern grownup does not take that job seriously... until it's too late.

3) In what genre does your book fall?
Definitely a picture book

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie version of the book?
This is a great question! Definitely John Cusack would be Mr. Black. Ryan Gosling is another possibility just so that I could hang out on the set with him.... because illustrators are cool enough to do that right? Bernadette is harder to think of because I don't see her as the typical cute blonde little girl actor. She's more like the spunky kid from Beasts of the Southern Wild.
Smarmy Mr. Black

5) What is a one sentence synopsis of your book?
Nobody mess with Bernadette's mojo.
Faced with being told she's not important, Bernadette has to prove the one thing she's in charge of at the Music Box Theater is the only thing that can stop the chaos around her family.

6) Who is publishing your book?
Clearly a publisher with impeccable taste

7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I rolled the idea around in my head for a couple of months before even starting to write it down. My very first stabs at any idea I write in long hand in my journal. After writing 4 or 5 drafts there I took the story to a writing retreat and over that weekend really fleshed it out. Then I started creating the sketches. I'm still in that process and have pages and pages of discarded spreads on my studio floor. So up to this point it's been about 3 months.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Good question... I've been trying to think of this as it's always good to mix into a query. Right now I'd say it's David and Goliath meet The Haunted Mansion.

9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Well I have to give a shout to The Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen. I love that book and the fictionalized story of a real event (or in my case a real item.) I also originally got the idea (late one night in a bubble bath which is where all my ideas come from) thinking about how we as a society tend to prize certain jobs over others but this is almost always to our own detriment. Instead what we should value is dedication and excellence in any job. So then how to turn that concept into a kid's book...
This is a rough sketch of a spread. After getting the rough plotted out, I scan it in and size to the what the finished size of the dummy will be. Then I redraw it from there.

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
Well what I've already said, that a ghost light is a real theater tradition. Also there really is a Music Box Theater in Chicago. My story is not set in that theater but I do plan to give it a feel of a 1920's vaudeville/movie house with lots of gold and dark red and little scalloped touches. 

Thank you for stopping in here to help me celebrate my "Next Big Thing." Now onto the next two candidates who will post on June 6th. I'll update with direct links then!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Nashville Public Library Showcase: From Good Idea to Finished Piece

This month I was included in a group of four other fabulous illustrators displaying our artistic process at the Nashville Public Library's Main Branch. That sounds innocuous right? Well for anyone who's never seen the Main Branch of our library let me set the stage....

Our work is displayed behind glass in the main entrance foyer. This room soars three stories into the air and is lit by tall glittering glass windows surrounding the top. A sea of polished granite stretches from the 15 foot high main entrance doors back to a towering bronze and marble staircase that winds its way up to the 2nd and 3rd levels. Cool, efficient library workers hold court over the dark paneled wood circulation desk. Behind ivory walls wait reams of ideas waiting to be discovered or enjoyed for the hundredth time. Everywhere there is the click and hum of learning, loving, and prizing books.

I have been in love with this building since it opened.

I want to go to story hour every week. I want to have a party in the 2nd floor outdoor courtyard. I want to take my sketchbook and draw for hours in the tremendous quiet of the Grand Reading Room. And, of course, some day I want to have my books on the shelves.

My Ladybug spread is one step in that direction, so it's fitting that that is what I chose to display. While its creation was a solitary endeavor, it was definitely improved by the input of the other artists displayed -  talented illustrators and friends. Here's hoping a dreamy ten year old, like each of us used to be, will see the display and realize that they too can find a life in making books. So Nashville readers, go visit the library and everyone else please stop by their sites for a closer look. Below are some pictures of the setup and finished displays of how we get from a good idea at one o'clock in the morning to a finished piece ready for the client:

Isn't this space spectacular?

First here's my display:
Not in Nashville? Read my process here

Our illustrious leader Susan Eaddy, check our her super cool clay creations at her blog, youtube channel and website:

My long time illustrator friend, Cheryl Mendenhall. Check out her CUTE characters at her agent's site. Plus this photo does not do justice to her display which has all kinds of cool projects and she feng shui'd up her display with her tools including a wacom tablet:

Fellow illustrator/designer crossover Kris Sexton brought two of her clay dino models to include. See her watercolor and Illustrator work at her site:

Finally Doug Jones, the self-proclaimed big brother of the group! He creates really funny cartoons regularly for his blog. Check out his fill portfolio at his site: