Well, it’s finally here!
Lyndsay and I hope you can join us.
We’ll talk about the creation of Down in the Jungle. Lyndsay will show you how she did the illustrations on her computer. We’ll read the story. And then we’ll eat cake – a beautifully decorated, delicious cake by Angela Pratt, another Didsbury resident — the same person who created the cake for Leaf‘s launch. (Gotta love all this local talent!)
In the meantime, here’s another little tidbit about writing and illustrating that Lyndsay and I put together for our newsletter.
A message from the author:
Remember those High School English questions that drove you crazy: What was the author wanting to convey in this story/poem/passage? What message was (s)he wanting the reader to come away with? What theme was (s)he exploring?
Maybe they didn’t drive you crazy, but I sure didn’t like them. How was I supposed to know what the author was wanting me to ‘get’ from the story? Who was I to presume that I had even an inkling about any ‘underlying message’ (s)he might be presenting?
And, for that matter, how could the teacher or scholar or anyone besides the author know what the author was wanting to convey? What the writer brings to the page and what the reader takes away can be two very different things. Who’s to say there was anything besides a good story wanting to be written and a writer willing to get it down with no thought for underlying themes or messages?
On numerous occasions, someone in my writer’s group (me, included) has realized part-way through a piece of writing, that there is a recurring motif or a repeated image or metaphor.
Or someone in the group will comment on a message or idea — a ‘theme’ if you will — that jumped out at them as they read and ask the author about it. And the writer in question will stare into space, dumbfounded by what has come through them, with no conscious effort on their part.
Often, those things called ‘themes’ don’t reveal themselves until the story/poem/novel is done. That was the case with my first book, Leaf. I wrote the story as it came to me and it wasn’t until people kept asking me, “What’s your book about?” that I felt I had to figure that out. In retrospect, Leaf’s theme — accepting change gracefully — is evident, but that wasn’t the message I was trying to convey. It revealed itself after the story was written.
Likewise, with Down in the Jungle. The first phrase landed — where hyenas howl at the man in the moon — and the rest was a glorious romp with language and imagery, one big long play-a-thon with words (I even made up a couple when nothing else fit). And once again, it wasn’t until the story’s last image came to me, along with the words, “so he opened up his eyes and headed for a place,” that I realized what this adventure was all about.
LOVE is the greatest treasure.
And writing is the greatest kind of magic.
A message from the illustrator:
When working on a project of this size you’ll inevitably end up with some illustrations that are cut from the book or changed because they didn’t work. I wanted to show you some rejected illustrations! The most difficult part of illustrating a book is that you have to look at the book as a whole and be very critical of whether it flows together or looks and feels cohesive. These images feature Jake running from the animals in his imagination but the orange-green palette and the imagery made it seem very dark and scary. I’m still quite fond of the bizarre animal shapes created by the shadows but I’m glad these illustrations received a re-do. You’ll find that that the final illustrations are MUCH cozier and light-hearted, which better suits Jake’s journey and the story as a whole.