I’m a techno-phobe about some things (okay, lots of things) but I looooove Skype. And I’m real lucky to be part of this:
More than a year ago, I sold the text to my picture book, PHOEBE AND DIGGER. It’s about a determined and, okay, teensy-weensy-bit aggressive girl named Phoebe, whose favorite toy is–ta da!–her brave and powerful digger. I love Phoebe and Digger both–I even love Phoebe’s annoying baby sibling (is it a boy or a girl baby? Phoebe doesn’t ever bother to tell us!) As soon as Candlewick accepted the book, I started imagining how an artist might portray them all.
But I have had to wait. And wait. I like to brag about what a patient person I am, but I’ll tell you a secret–it’s all facade! Underneath I’m as much of a toe tapper and clock watcher as anyone else. And waiting to see Phoebe, I wore out the toes of several pairs of shoes.
Part of me wishes I could draw myself. Of course when I write I SEE my characters and their settings, but trying to translate those mental images onto real paper is a disaster. Yet another side of me loves working with an illustrator, someone who takes my story and sees things I didn’t, who filters my words through her own world view. It’s exciting and always surprising, and I am very lucky to have editors who see to it that the process is a true, give and take collaboration.
The other day, like so many things in life that seem to take forever and then happen all at once (growing a baby comes to mind!) I received the first sketches. It’s too early to share them but I can say that yes, it has been worth the wait. What a gal Phoebe is! Wait till you see her!
That’ll take a while longer, though (sound of toe tapping…)
So, I just drove through the April showers, out of my inner ring suburb, through the outer ring suburbs, on and 0n and on (my little Toyota getting an unaccustomed work-out on the hills) and on and on till I was in the real country. Trees, fields, wide gray sky and nary a traffic signal in sight for miles until, as per my trusty directions, I came to The Red Light and took a left.
And there, rising up, as my mother would say, In the Middle of Nowhere (which I realize is a relative expression but boy it really felt like that) was a beautiful library. It has ambition, this building– high ceilings, lots of glass, tended garden out front. And inside, brimming shelves stretching as far as you can see, and people reading, browsing, dreaming.
Librarians welcomed me with open arms and donut holes. And suddenly it felt as if I were in the exact center of the universe. I met a little girl reading “Through the Looking Glass”–she had long blonde hair and a headband, hmmm–and a boy who told me he wants to be a writer. When I asked his favorite things to write, he replied, “Everything out of the ordinary.” Hey, that’s what I want to write, too!
So there I was: outside a rainy April afternoon, inside a garden of delight. To think that very scene is going on times thousands today, all across the country. Viva, libraries!