Oh Hello. So a couple of weeks ago, new picture book ace, Fred Koehler, asked me if I'd be willing to participate in an Author Blog Tour. ONLY because we met once in NYC at a SCBWI conference AND because it turns out he's super swell, did I say "yes".
Fred's debut picture book "How to Cheer Up Dad" has been collecting STARRED reviews like a pro! I predict there will be a LOT more of Mr. Koehler books filling up bookshelves in the future.
So carrying on with the "tour" here we go:
What are you currently working on?
Well, it's been a busy year so far. I finished illustrating a book for Bloomsbury, by the wonderfully talented Brianna Caplan Sayres called "Tiara Saurus Rex". Drawing dinosaurs for a picture book was a dream! Drawing them in fancy dresses was a challenge. Thankfully my girls and wife came to my rescue. I also sent in the finishing touches on another book for Doubleday, by the hilarious Dev Petty called "I don't want to be a Frog". That book is exactly as awesome as it sounds - which is awesome. I have another book in the sketch stage with Scholastic Canada, and some prep work for the release of my follow up to 123 versus ABC in late August called Colors versus Shapes. That and of course I'm always rolling more of my ideas out of my head and onto some paper.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I suppose my work normally has my own name on it and other folk's books don't have my name on it, so that separates me from them in one sense. In another way, I really try to combine ideas and tell stories from the accidents that they have in my head. 123 versus ABC was born from the thought that Counting and ABCs couldn't be in the same book because the two ideas would fight - there would be conflict for reader's attention. As soon as I thought that, I knew that was a book. Many of my ideas happen in such a way. Wonderful collisions in my imagination.
Why do I write what I write?
I have enjoyed writing, drawing, and creating since I was young. I don't know where my ideas or love of this comes from, but doing this for a career has been my dream.
More specifically, I often share with students I visit, to write what they enjoy in life. I hope that you'll be able to recognize what I enjoy in life from my books, and enjoy a bit of those things along with me.
How does my individual writing/illustrating process work?
I already talked a bit about the imagination collisions that happen, but that's really how it happens whether I'm writing or illustrating. The collisions happen in my head or on paper or with my agent and a few close friends who I bounce ideas off of. I have sticky notes all over my desk with scribbles and jotted down notes of ideas that I jot down so I don't forget them.
A good idea creates more and more good ideas, and when I've managed to find one of those in front of me, I place those in a special place where I continue to develop them. Sometimes a book is there, and sometimes not. But I don't know until I keep trying to work out the kinks which can take an hour or a few years so far!
Since I also illustrated, once I have the MS (or if it's my own - often when it's still an idea) I start drawing the characters and try to get comfortable with them. Developing personalities that add to the story, not distract. If I didn't write it, I want to make sure that I compliment the story as much as possible and see what creative ways I can do that.
Once all my roughs and designs are approved, there's little else to do than get down to finishing it up.
Next up on the tour:
I'm really looking forward to hearing a bit more of the process from:
Dev Petty, who I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more from in the years to come.
Thanks again for the read!