With a small bag packed, I’m jumping on the blog bus for a quick writing tour, joining one of my favorite friends and traveling companions (we took SCBWI in NYC by storm!) the charming and incredibly delightful author Anika Denise. Her latest book baby, Baking Day at Grandma’s, is due out Fall 2014. You can find out more about her writing process and read her insightful post here
And if you were wondering…
What am I working on?
It’s a bit top secret, but I’ll share what I can: I’m working on the follow-up to my last picture book, My Little Pony Under the Sparkling Sea, a tale produced in collaboration with Hasbro, published by Little Brown. The tricky part about working with an existing intellectual property like My Little Pony, is that so much is kept under wraps in development…making it harder to share my process- either writing or illustrating. But this is amongst friends, right? So I’ll share a little: This latest venture/adventure may involve wintery wonders, jungle ponies and some seriously shimmery objects. I’ll be creating some new pony characters too and a not-so-pony creature…but that’s all for now! At the same time, I’m working on a story of a very different type, a modern-day myth about fear, using Grimm charcoal and deep pencil overtones. The two stories are day and night, but for me, contrast is essential in writing, art and life.
With a wildly different writing cap, I’m working on scripts for a new course on composition for Lynda.com. This demands a kind of writing brain that challenges me to write like I speak. I know that if it sounds strange when I read the script aloud…it’ll trip even more clumsily off my tongue when I’m on camera. Developing my writing in this way has helped me to be more aware of my voice when writing picture books, especially character dialogue.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think, like my incredible colleague Chris Denise, that I too look back to the Golden Age of illustration when luminaries like Maxfield Parrish, Howard Pyle and Jessie Wilcox Smith graced the pages of books and magazines. Check out some of Chris’s work here to see what I mean. I love the depth of color, the quality of light and the level of detail that was part of the Arts and Crafts Movement and Art Nouveau. It all seeped sensually into illustration at the turn of the century, and I’m completely wooed by it. I’ve visited many times, as well as exhibited, at the National Museum of Illustration in Newport, Rhode Island. The collection of Golden Age illustration at the museum is astounding… I can’t get enough of it and highly recommend a visit to visual storytellers and artists alike. In fact, the originals from My Little Pony, Under the Sparkling Sea are on display there right now.
Why do I write what I do?
I write stories that speak to my heart. If I can only think up words and images, but not feel the mood or feelings behind the story…it feels a bit too mechanical. I have plenty of stories that will NEVER see the light of day, because I couldn’t feel the character’s emotions, or imagine why they’d behave in a particular way. I’m drawn to characters and their motivation more than anything else, and can start to envision a story from their point of view if I understand why they might do this or that. Once the character and world is articulated in writing and then in illustration- the world becomes real for me, and I can see story and image past the page’s edge.
How does my individual writing process work?
I tend to write stories in my head while driving, trying to fall back to sleep in the middle of the night, waking from a nap or resting quietly in a beautiful place. There are so many distractions in a day that it’s essential to let my mind wander to the dusty corners, tiny hidden doorways and funky secret passages that are easy to miss when I’m busy. I remember having a dream that felt like the perfect metaphor for creation: As I wandered around my house, I discovered new rooms filled with treasures, with large windows and doorways to other new rooms. I often feel that I’ve come upon a story like a found treasure, as though someone else wrote it and I’m just picking it up, dusting it off and fine-tuning the details. I should write on the cover of my books- “Co-authored with my Muse” I think she does the hardest part! Once I have the story arced out in my mind, I’ll type it out, ruminate on it, then let it simmer for a bit. I can rarely resist the temptation to do a few thumbnail sketches, as the illustrator side of me is bossy and has a mind of her own. Once I satisfy the sense that it’s coming together, I’ll share it… but I am ALWAYS thinking, “ Is this any good?” I’m pretty sure that I’m not alone in this thought as either writer or illustrator.
And now to the dazzling Elizabeth Dulemba and the dashing Matt Faulkner!
Elizabeth O. Dulemba is an award-winning children’s book author/illustrator with two dozen titles to her credit. She is Illustrator Coordinator for the SCBWI Southern region, a Board Member for the Georgia Center for the Book, and a Visiting Associate Professor at Hollins University in the MFA in Children’s Book Writing and Illustrating program. A BIRD ON WATER STREET is her first novel (Spring 2014, Little Pickle Press) and has already won three awards. Learn more about Elizabeth here
Matt Faulkner is an award winning children’s book author and illustrator and has illustrated twenty-nine books and written and illustrated seven since he began his career back in 1985. He enjoys working on projects of both historical and fantastical natures (and he concentrates very hard not to get them confused). His author/illustrated book A Taste of Colored Water (Simon and Schuster) was recently chosen by the School Library Journal as a significant book for sharing concepts of diversity with kids. And the San Francisco Chronicle calls his recently released graphic novel, “Gaijin: American Prisoner of War” (Disney/Hyperion) “superb”! Matt is married to author, national speaker on early literacy and librarian Kris Remenar and lives with their children in the lower right hand corner of Michigan. Learn more about Matt here