Q: Your books are for a grown up audience, I was wondering what inspired you to do a children’s picture book?
Jennifer and I were introduced in… uuuuhm… 1996? Yeah, Wiki tells me that DBZ aired on YTV in 96.
Anyway, I had become enamored of Sailor Moon in 1995 when it aired on YTV (and lucky me, later I got to work with one of the voice directors and take some voice acting workshops from directors and talent alike), and followed that into DBZ. From DBZ I found fanfiction, and in fanfiction I found author Ruthanne Reid.
(Although, at the time, she had her fanfic pseudonym and so did I.)
Ruthanne introduced me to fanartist Jennifer, and we all chatted. I stayed in touch with Jennifer through university, where she sent me fan art and did a poster for my first play, and did some art based on the novel I was writing at the time.
In 2002, when I wrote the poem that comprises the book, Jennifer and I noodled around with the idea of doing some sort of illustrated version of it, but a webcomic was too involved for both of us (being, as we were, in school and part time jobs), and frankly self-publishing as we know it now hadn’t been invented yet.
We lot touch after Jennifer got married and began a family, but a few years later I had the opportunity to offer up the poem to a morbid little poetry chap book. The publisher and I discussed having all the poems illustrated, and I remembered the doodles Jennifer had already conceived. I got back in touch with Jennifer, and we had some discussions. She mocked up some thumbnails, but then unfortunately the publishing house collapsed and the project was cancelled.
Several more years passed, and I forgot about the poem. Eventually I was interviewed by Arial Burnz of ParaNormalRadio, and she reminded me that the poem existed. I discussed it with my agent, and we agreed that it would be a fun project for me to selfpub the poem as a picture book, and I got back in contact with Jennifer again! I figured there was no point in going elsewhere when Jennifer and I had already done so much work on the book.
And here we are!
Q: How do you choose which images to illustrate for the book?
I mentioned in a previous answer that illustrator Jennifer Vendrig and I had had the opportunity to talk a lot about the poem before we came to project, so that was very helpful. We already had a “look” established, and we already knew what the characters looked like through a few weeks of trial-and-error pencil sketches where she mostly said “Well, what about this, this and this?” and I said, “Yes! I love that, that, but maybe make that like this?” and she said “Yes! And–” (You get the point.)
When I reapproached Jennifer about doing the picture book, one of the first contractual items we discussed was how much drawing she would be doing. We agreed on the number of illustrations – one for every two stanzas – and Jennifer broke the whole thing down into a sort of a story board.
She provided me with three doodles for each stanza to choose from, and when I made my choices we discussed why I thought those were best, and what she wanted to do with it. The nice thing is, I really like Jennifer’s art, and I’ve known her as an artist for so long that in commissioning her to illustrate the book, I knew exactly what to expect. I wasn’t disappointing – I love the work!
Once we had the doodle-thumbnails locked down, Jennifer began doing pencil sketches of each illustration. She sends them to me in batches, and we discuss little changes or additions as needed. Then I sign off on the pictures. Once I’ve signed off on all of them, she’ll begin the inking process and creating the illustration for the cover.
In the meantime, Jennifer is drawing to a size spec, and the interior designer and I are working together to get the draft-layout together so that when Jennifer provides the final inked pictures, we can just drop them into place and go!
Jennifer also illustrated the announcement picture! Isn’t it cute?