Friday, May 3, 2013

The Next Big Thing Blog Tag

Hi guys,  the Next Big Thing is a global blog tour, started in Australia, to showcase authors and illustrators and their current work. I was tagged for The Next Big Thing Blog Tag by the very talented author/illustrator, Peggy Collins.

I thought, as an interesting twist, I would share my tag with Lisa Dalrymple, the author of  Skink on the Brink, illustrated by ME, since it is due out at the end of this month-YAY!! We are super excited!

1) What is the working title of your next book?  Skink on the Brink

2) Where did the idea come from for the book? How did you come up with the final character illustrations for the book?

I love words and language and try to play around in everything I write. I wanted to write a story and cast in it an animal we don’t see so often in picture books. As soon as I heard the name Skink, I knew that was it. I mean just listen to it: skink. It made me laugh just to say it, so I knew I had found my little guy.

          After reading Lisa's manuscript I left it to float around inside my head for a bit. This foot tapping, singing skink had such a great personality that the ideas practically flew out of my head down through my pencil. I really enjoyed capturing all the emotions Stewie went through on his journey of self discovery. I sometimes made faces in a  hand mirror to get just the right expression, when sculpting my plasticine Stewie.

3) In what genre does your book fall?

It’s a children’s picture book, subtly educational.

4) What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Kermit the Frog should definitely play Stewie. He may be more amphibian than reptilian but he more than makes up for that when he starts singing, “It’s not easy being blue-I mean grey-no wait red.”

5) What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

          This is Stewie the Skink’s story about self-esteem and change, as Stewie grows up, his shockingly bright blue tail fades to gray and he has to discover just who he is when he can no longer call himself “Stewie the Blue.” 

6) Who is publishing your book? Fitzhenry & Whiteside publishers in Toronto.
7) How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? How long did the illustrations take to complete? 

I researched for a couple of months before writing.  The first draft probably took me about a week, but that was soon followed up with about 18 months of subsequent drafts and revisions before I considered submitting it.
The roughs, rom initial thumbnails to tight rough sketches took a few months, and then the really fun final artwork created in plasticine, took approximately 4.5 months to complete. Each illustrations took anywhere from 20-40 hours, depending on complexity.

8) What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 
         Well, seeing as it is the fourth in the Tell Me More Series of picture books by Fitzhenry and Whiteside, there are certain similarities between it and Kazaak, Tooter’s Stinky Wish and Bye-Bye Butterflies. Each story has its own unique qualities but includes an educational component and two pages of backmatter that extend the informational elements of the story.
9) Who or what inspired you to write this book? What inspired our illustrations for this book?

         The Carolinian population of the Common Five-lined Skink is Endangered in Canada – an Endangered Species of lizard in my own backyard (or at least where I camp out) that I had never heard of! I knew I wanted to know more. The more I researched, the more I heard a little voice singing in my ear, “I’m a skink on the brink of extinction, I think.” There was no turning back.

        Due to the cross curricular component of this book, as it is part of the Tell-Me-More Storybook series,  I wanted to ensure that the habitat of the five-lined skink, including vegetation, predators and other animals found in their habitat, was accurate, so I really did  my homework. Ontario has such a great variety of animals friends and foes to choose from that it was often hard to choose who to include in my illustrations- just look at my big stack of reference photos!

10) What else about the book might pique the reader's interest?

         Stewie’s story is a familiar one to all Common Five-lined Skinks. The juveniles of this species do have incredibly bright blue tails, the colour of which fades as they reach sexual maturity. Mature males also develop bright orange or red jaws and chin, particularly during breeding season. It’s no wonder Stewie is having an identity crisis!

Also, like other lizards, skinks can shed, or autotomize, their tails when they’re attacked. I had no idea that the tail actually keeps moving in order to confuse the predator so the lizard can escape.  (It grows back at a rate of about 6mm a week.)
Hopefully, after kids read this book, they will be inspired to go outside, go on a nature walk or go camping. Who knows ,they might even recognize a few of Stewie's habitat friends or, if they are very lucky, they might even see Stewie himself. :)

Up next week : Illustrator Jan Dolby

And author Joyce Grant


1 comment: said...

A good and informative post. I enjoyed both your comments, and your art work. Very unique and interesting children's book. I assume you work from home studio (children). I will return for a more in depth read of your blog.


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