I’m so excited to be participating in the My Writing Process Blog Tour! Before I begin I’d like to thank Muffet Frische and Cindy Rodella Purdy for the invitation to participate and for their support and kindness! If you haven’t already, check out their work over at Ten Story Books.
I’ll start with a bit of an explanation. I’m an author/illustrator. I was dragged (kicking and screaming) in to illustration when a family friend asked me to illustrate Hummingbird Heaven. The project seemed daunting but when I finished, I decided that the next book I illustrated would be my own. That decision became Imagination Vacation Yellowstone.
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
Right now I’m wrapping up the illustrations for Goldibear and the Three Campers. The idea came to me as I sat in the car in a parking lot in Boulder, Colorado. We spend a lot of time in the mountains there and I’d read The Beast in the Garden, an account of the cougar related tragedies that shook the Boulder area in the late 1980s. It had me thinking about the complicated relationships between wildlife and people who live on the fringes of the wilderness. From that heavy material the idea for a retelling of the classic fairy tale, Goldilocks and the Three Bears, emerged. I’m hoping that this book will spread the word that responsible, bear-conscious living will keep both bears and people safe.
HOW DOES YOUR WORK DIFFER FROM OTHERS OF ITS GENRE?
I try to write with a venue in mind. I travel a lot and sometimes a story just seems to grow from a place. This was definitely the case with the Imagination Vacation Series. Having a venue in mind makes my books enticing to the gift shop market and keeps my work from getting lost in the shuffle of traditional bookstores.
WHY DO YOU WRITE WHAT YOU DO?
I write with an education/conservation mindset. My family spent a lot of time traveling, camping and exploring the great outdoors. My dad is a geologist and my mom an artist so family vacations had a way of turning into field trips and artistic and scholarly expeditions. I always felt that my parents were my best and first teachers. They’ve definitely been the inspiration for the Imagination Vacation series. The series teaches geology as it follows the fictional family on their adventures. Lesson plans in the back of the book make it easy to expand learning. My hope is that it will inspire families to see vacation time as an opportunity for a memorable, educational adventure.
Conserving biodiversity is the theme behind P is for Pangolin, an alphabet of obscure, endangered and underappreciated animals. There are so many creatures that are on the brink of extinction and yet are practically unheard of to the general public. The book has lesson plans in the back that teach conservation and a “Learn More or Donate” section where I’ve listed reputable conservation organizations that work to protect the forgotten species.
HOW DOES YOUR WRITING PROCESS WORK?
This question makes me laugh because sometimes it seems to work so slowly! I guess it begins with a quick jotting down of the general story or idea. I do all of my own illustration, layout and book design so the next step is choosing a format/size for the book. Then I set up a file and add the pages, deciding how the text will fall and where page breaks will be. Once I have an idea of how much text will occupy the pages I move on to story-boarding with thumbnail sketches. Somewhere along the way the process of researching and fact-checking kicks in. I love research and I’ll spend hours on details, like making sure that the plants and animals are appropriate to the geologic era I’m depicting. Illustration is definitely the most difficult and time-consuming part of the process but I also find it to be the most rewarding part of the process. I illustrate in a watercolor collage style. I have kind of a mad scientist approach to watercolor; tossing everything from salt, rubbing alcohol, string, plastic, leaves, spaghetti, even hair onto the paint to get the effects I’m looking for. Once I’m happy with a painted piece I scan it and assemble the collage in PhotoShop. Layout is completed in InDesign and then it’s off to my wonderful editor, Ashley Argyle.
NEXT STOP ON THE TOUR!
Cynthia Wildridge will be next week’s featured writer on the “My Writing Process” Blog Tour. Children’s author Cynthia S. Wildridge grew up in a small town in Indiana, surrounded by nature, animals, and huge, gorgeous trees. She began piano lessons at age seven, the same year she received her first purple flowered diary—complete with lock and key. She has written daily since. Inspired during a summer sabbatical in France, she conceived a bilingual children’s series entitled THE TALES OF BUN E. BONIFACE® to teach history, culture, and language to babies, toddlers, and young readers—through original stories, art, and song. Bun E. Learns To Count In French (Bun E. apprend à compter) was published in 2003 by Limestock Press, and included an audio CD with bilingual narration and original music. Other works for the series are in progress. Though having been encouraged a decade ago to begin blogging, this reclusive writer has established a blog at her website, www.thirdtimescharm.com, specifically to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Tour!