1) What is the working title of your next book?
Currently I have two projects that overlap, a picture book and a middle grade/graphic novel; however, I would like to share about the most recent picture book I illustrated, SILLY FRILLY GRANDMA TILLIE.
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Well you’d have to ask the author, Laura Jacobs, about her first thoughts, but the Silly Tillie character was inspired by some great ladies from our local Oviedo Garden Club. They took me under their wing when I joined; I was the youngest member. I find it amazing how much this generation wants to give of themselves by sharing knowledge and great stories. I dedicated the book art to them.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
This picture book fits well for ages 4 to 8. I think the reading level of the story determines this more than just the artwork style. It’s a great book for parents, grandparents, and older siblings to read aloud to the younger ones learning to read.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Let’s see, my garden friend, Mary, would make an extremely clever Grandma Tillie, but if her schedule wasn't free, Angela Lansbury would do quite well. Sophie’s character needs someone with serious big-sister experience; however, we would have to go back in time to cast my little sister, Leah, as Chloe in ponytails. So the world will have to wait for the big movie, but perhaps there might be an ebook version in the future.
Whenever Grandma Tillie babysits Sophie and Chloe, she seems to disappear, only to be replaced by a parade of lovable characters; however… there’s more.
6) Who is publishing your book?
FlashlightPress with editor Shari Dash Greenspan.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’m sure there were many manuscript drafts to be expected. I made several changes to the book dummy I created before the line-art was approved. It’s a real collaboration of ideas, and some of my process is described on the ABOUT page on my website.
Regarding the time it took, well, this book was my first fully digitally-painted story, and I ran into problems. I worked for several hours at a time without resting my arm. (Digital paint doesn't need to time to dry.) The old Wacon still worked, but my shoulder was giving out. Even though I had completed about half of color art, I changed my working process. I invested in a new Wacom Cintiq, relearned and readjusted to drawing directly on the tablet/screen, and upgraded my computer hardware. The goal was to be more efficient and avoid re-injuring my shoulder; however, I also worried that there would be a visual difference in line quality and color technique of the overall book. Between the first half of the color art and new art, the process felt different so I went back and retouch all the page spreads. So in fact, I feel like I did the final art twice, but it was worth it because I’m so happy with color and texture.
I can work much faster and smarter now…yeah!
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
There are several wonderful picture books about the relationship between one’s grandchildren and grandparents. You can do a Google search but also check out Flashlight Press’s others books like GRANDPA FOR SALE and GRANDFATHER WRINKLES. The artwork in each is very different. I would also encourage you to visit www.grandmaideas.com. Who knows, the next great picture book story may still be waiting to be told.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
I think this Grandma Tillie, herself, has inspired me to illustrate another grandchild/grandparent story in the future. I have fond memories of my own grandmother, Rose, who was very creative, insisted on walking a mile every day and lived to be 95 years- young.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I think Grandma Tillie is a drama-diva so I wonder what she did in the past. If kids are encouraged to imagine what inspires her, she becomes a story that lives beyond the pages; all good stories do.
Do you remember the first time you suddenly realized that your grandparents were once children too?
Thanks for visiting my blog and joining me for my part of the Next Big Thing. The tour continues: Henry Cole