My thanks to Linda Stanek for tagging me in The Next Big Thing blog tour! This blog tour began in Australia and features authors' and illustrators' current book projects. I really enjoyed her answers to these questions and hope I don't bore anyone to tears with mine.... Here we go.
1) What is the working title of your next book?
The two books I'm working on are: Duke Day for Annie and Sara, Leclere. I hope to have them out relatively the same time (within a month or so of each other).
2) Where did the idea come from for the book?
Sara is a midgrade, and who knew my childhood is considered historical fiction. Okay, not all of it. However when talking with some writer friends about some of the inspirations for characters, some of the people who'd inspired my character Teedie was Ann and her family. In talking about Ann's childhood, most of my friends' hit me over the head with a wet noodle telling me I was missing one of the stories right in front of me (yah, I'm smart that way). I reconnected with Ann who was living at the Barron Center in Portland because her disease had progressed to the bed-ridden stage. She was still a ray of sunshine, inspiring, a positive energy in the face of any adversity. After talking to Ann, she was thrilled with the idea, and helped me until she passed away from multiple sclerosis. I've written extensively about this whole process here on this blog, so you can scroll if you'd like to learn a bit more.
3) What genre does your book fall under?
Sara is a historical midgrade fiction, for a slightly older or advanced reader. Annie is a historical faction picture book. It's based upon a real person, some real events in a real place. But because of the nature of it all (Old Orchard's face would sometimes change a few times a year from fires and natural disasters' for instance) there is a little artistic license.
4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Hadn't thought about this one, lol, though I guess there are picture books made into movies (Polar Express and Hugo Cabret). I thought I was pretty good to sketch out my characters in my midgrade, they're real people and live in a real, though totally fabricated town, in my head.
5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Sara is a coming of age story as she struggles with all the problems a thirteen year old girl can have in such a tumultuous time, including wanting her sour grandmother's approval and how to keep the kitten she's attached to. In Duke Day, it's about a young girl anticipating and getting ready for a famous visitor in an active family and charming sea side town, in Maine.
6) Who is publishing your book?
After years of the traditional route, I've decided to go the self-publishing route. The works have had a lot of editorial input, won scholarships and had good reader response, and I won't put it out unless it's the best I can do right now.
7) How long did it take you to create the illustrations?
The short answer is a few months. The truthful answer is a lifetime, and a number of years specifically. I needed to master Photoshop enough to make work I was comfortable with, and I'm looking for a specific feeling, that I've finally nailed. I also just finished a wonderful online course with Will Terry and Jake Parker, I know will benefit this and any future books on Visual Storytelling, so I'm stoked!
8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Ellington is not a Street (Ntozake Shange, author, Kadir Nelson, illustrator) I love and look at Kadir Nelson and Floyd Cooper's work a lot, so though I can in no way compare mine to theirs, they did help inspire me. Or Duke Ellington: the Piano Prince and his Orchestra by Andrea and Brian Pinkney
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book?
For Sara it was thinking how many mixed messages and conflations kids nowadays have to deal with. And though the times were very different, I realized I had pretty much the same challenges, perhaps this could be a way to relate history to the present, something I think needs to happen a lot more. We didn't get here all of a sudden. Knowing history helps us make more considered choices, I think. And the similar thought with Annie. The real Ann Cummings Searcy was a friend and an inspiration. She came from an accomplished family. Her grandfather was Shurtleff Emerson, the famous abolitionist and relative to Ralph Waldo. Duke had asked her to be a singer in his group, and her mother decided that wasn't the safest move for a lovely young woman, no matter how kind Mr. Ellington was, and instead she became the first state certified teacher in the Maine. Her brother was a well-known and respected local Republican and teacher in Scarborough, Maine and has a bit of highway named for him. He was a life long friend of Ed Muskie.
10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?
I wrote the book in what I call syncopated rhyme which I hope is successful, in honor of Duke Ellingtion's signature style. Old Orchard Beach is not only a beautiful ocean side town, it's fun to see other times, I think, and this is an important bit of history that's not often reported on, the entrepreneurship of people like Ann's mom Rose Cummings.
I also hope people check out my first book, Nana's Gift!
Thanks again, Linda for tagging me! Up next the wonderful Lisa Kopelke, author of Excuse Me! and Tissue Please! and A Younger Brother's Survival Guide!