Writing Process Blog Tour

I was tagged by Tao Nyeu to answer four questions on my working process. Tao is an incredibly talented author/illustrator known for her extra cute animals in books like Wonder Bear and her most recent, Squid and Octopus, Friends for Always. Check out her working process here. And follow the blog tour backwards to get sneak peeks inside studios of Nina Crews, Selina Alko, Abby Hanlon, Hyewon Yum, and more!

What am I working on?
I literally just wrapped up illustrations for Sunday Shopping last night, a very fun story by Sally Derby about a grandmother and grand daughter who shop by cutting things from their wish list out of the Sunday newspaper. The book showcases two very different styles based on the direction of the story.

Early sketch from Sunday Shopping

How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I didn’t write this manuscript, but compared to the other work I have created, this book is really ambitious in the mixed media approach. Half of the book is done traditionally and the other half is digital. The tone of the story is also much lighter than my other books. I get to show a bit of my sense of humor, where in the past, the work has been much more serious. I had to fight for a few of the more fun ideas, but my editor was open enough to let me retain a lot of the playfulness in the art. All I can say is…find the cat.

Why do I write what I do?
I am not a published author yet. My first author/illustrated project won’t be out for a couple of years. The stories I choose to illustrate though, are ones where I feel free to play artistically. I hate being locked into one way of working, so if there is a story that challenges me artistically and forces me to learn or try a new medium or approach, I will try it. Above all, I try to choose stories that are well written and carry some emotional weight.

That being said, the stories I attempt to write are somewhat autobiographical or rooted in some of my own personal philosophies of living.
How does my writing process work?
Both my illustration and writing practices are similar. I never start cold. Typically, I research and find images that I can respond to or use directly. In my last few books, I spent a lot of time out in the world traveling to where the stories took place, or using details from the cities that I have lived in, and taking photographs to help jog ideas. The stories that I have written come from many random things . . . a sonogram, a commercial, a vacation . . . I am inspired all of the time and use everything as a prompt for creating.

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From there, I begin sketching or writing things down in fragments. When I am illustrating, I bounce all over the story, just making thumbnails or ideas that pop into my head. Writing is similar. I try to start from the beginning and work my way to the end of a story, but it never works out. There are lots of starts and stops and moving from one part of the story to the next. I often times create a quick outline to help me stay focused on the plot.

Thanks for tagging me Tao! I will now pass the gauntlet over to the super talented, Don Tate. Stay tuned to his blog for the results.