Posts tagged ‘author interviews’

July 11, 2017

Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen plus Interview

I can’t believe we are almost half-way through summer. Hope you and your families are having a wonderful, relaxing, and joyous time. When I first started my writing journey back in 2011, I was fortunate to be a reader for the Cybils early chapter books category. I loved the spunkiness of the characters and the fast-paced storylines, but what I found myself missing was diversity. So last winter when I heard about the Jasmine Toguchi books by Debbi Michiko Florence, I was thrilled. 

Synopsis for Jasmine Toguchi: Mochi Queen (from Amazon): 

Eight-year-old Jasmine Toguchi is a flamingo fan, tree climber, and top-notch mess-maker!

She’s also tired of her big sister, Sophie, always getting to do things first. For once, Jasmine wishes SHE could do something before Sophie―something special, something different. The New Year approaches, and as the Toguchi family gathers in Los Angeles to celebrate, Jasmine is jealous that her sister gets to help roll mochi balls by hand with the women. Her mom says that Jasmine is still too young to join in, so she hatches a plan to help the men pound the mochi rice instead. Surely her sister has never done THAT before.

But pounding mochi is traditionally reserved for boys. And the mochi hammer is heavier than it looks. Can Jasmine build her case and her mochi-making muscles in time for New Year’s Day?

What I Like:

Jasmine is a charming, spunky character, and Japanese-American.  I like that it’s a book that has a universal truth where the multicultural aspect is part of the backdrop rather than the focus. I enjoyed learning about the Japanese tradition of mochi-tsuki while feeling that Jasmine could be the girl next door. It’s a perfect blend of East meets West.

The first two books in the series Mochi Queen and Super Sleuth release TODAY! Here are some links to help you easily find them: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Indiebound

Now onto the interview with Debbi!

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1. Can you tell us a little about your writing journey? Ups/Down/Anything in Between

It has been a very long and bumpy road and a good lesson in perseverance. I talked in detail about my journey on my blog. (http://debbimichikoflorence.com/2015/10/the-long-bumpy-road/)

Since then, I’ve gone through revisions and copyedits for the first three books in the series. Recently, I handed in the last round of revisions to my editor for book 4, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper. It’s mind-boggling to realize that I’m pretty much done writing all four books for the series, just before the first two books launch! I have loved every single step along the way of writing this series, particularly working with Grace Kendall and FSG, and my illustrator Elizabet Vukovic, and designer Kristie Radwilowicz – I’m grateful to this fabulous team!

Around the same time I made my sale, I signed with my dream agent, Tricia Lawrence, of The Erin Murphy Literary Agency. She’s a tireless advocate of my work and has been so amazing – guiding me along this path to publication while also giving me support and feedback on my works-in-progress. She’s a wonderful friend and partner and I couldn’t ask for a better agent to have along on this journey!

2. What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your writing?

I seem to be fixated on relationships in flux – like Jasmine’s changing relationship with her older sister throughout the series and when Jasmine has a falling out with her best friend in Super Sleuth. In my novels/works-in-progress, the focus is also on changing relationships, between friends and family, and also the aspects of first love. I’m fascinated by relationships.

3. Can you share your writing process with us? Panster/plotter, paper/pen. Specific habits or tips that have served you well?

I’m a panster in that I start my first draft with only a premise and a character or two in mind. I don’t outline, but I think my first drafts are basically very long rambling outlines.

I draft in Scrivener. I LOOOOVE Scrivener! I take notes and brainstorm in a notebook (each project has a separate notebook), but I write all my drafts on my laptop. I print up hardcopies in between drafts and write all over them before revising.

4. Can you tell us a little about how you came up with Jasmine Toguchi and her stories? How did you develop Jasmine as a character?

I was inspired by a newspaper article about a multigenerational family that made mochi the traditional way. I wondered what would happen if a little girl wanted to do the “boy job” of pounding mochi, and Jasmine Toguchi was born. Jasmine talked to me in my head for many months before I sat down to write a word of her story, so by the time I started writing she felt very real to me.

5. I understand Mochi Queen was initially written as a stand-alone, but then your editor asked you to extend Jasmine into a series. That is so cool! How did you go about conceiving other storylines?

Honestly? The minute I got on the phone with Grace, the ideas poured forth. Suddenly, I had many stories I wanted to write about Jasmine. I also knew that I wanted each story to contain a thread of Japanese culture while focusing on a universal theme: wanting to do something before an older sibling/breaking family tradition, figuring out how to mend a fight with a best friend while hanging on to a family tradition, learning how to find a talent, and making a wish come true.

6. One of the things I loved about Mochi Queen was the inclusion of the extended family. Was this an important aspect for you to have in there? Will they be appearing in future stories?

Thank you! Some of my fondest memories of growing up include extended family. Visiting relatives in Japan for long stays in the summer, celebrating birthdays and holidays with extended family, etc. I miss that as an adult now that I live across the country from my family. I particularly miss my grandparents and wish they were still around. Obaachan will make a small appearance in book 4. If I were to write more books for the series, I can see the extended family appearing again. (Yes, I do have ideas for more stories!)

7. Any other books we should be on the lookout for?
Book 3, Jasmine Toguchi, Drummer Girl and book 4, Jasmine Toguchi, Flamingo Keeper will be out in April 2018 and July 2018 respectively. I’m super excited for these books to make their way into the hands of readers, too!

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Some rapid fire questions.

Fact that most people don’t know about you?

I love umeboshi, Japanese style pickled plums.

Favorite type of mochi?

Azuki (red bean)

If you could have any kind of animal as a pet, what would it be?

Oh goodness! I think I’ve reached a limit with pets for now. Right now, we have two ducks (Darcy and Lizzy), a minilop (Aki), and a puppy (Kiku). In the past I’ve had hamsters, snakes, fish, a guinea pig, dogs, cats, and many birds including an Amazon parrot.

What book is on your bedside table?

I have piles of books all over the house that I want to read. So. Many. Books! Right now I’m almost finished reading (and loving) WANT by Cindy Pon.

Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Website and blog: http://debbimichikoflorence.com/
Twitter: @DebbiMichiko
Instagram: @d.michiko.f and for Jasmine Toguchi news @jasminetoguchi
Facebook: facebook.com/debbi.michiko

Thank you so much for having me on your blog!

Thank you, Debbi, for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself. Wishing you many future successes.

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June 7, 2017

Two Truths and a Lie Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

I can’t believe it is finally here! Only a few more weeks (Publication date: June 27, 2017) before you can get your curious hands on this wonderful book. A middle-grade non-fiction filled with quirky and interesting facts about plants, animals, humans and more … but wait some of the stories are FAKE! And you the reader has to figure out fact from fiction by doing some research. It is a book to get the gears turning in kids’ minds. If you want to know more about the book, check out this wonderful review at Librarian’s Quest.

Now on to the interview to learn a bit about how they worked on this book and details on the giveaway!


1) What was your inspiration or motivation to write this book?

LAT: The idea for the book was initially Joan’s, but what really got me excited about it was Facebook. Right about the time we started working on the proposal, it felt like every day my Facebook feed was showing me some new, unbelievable story that had me wondering, Is that really true? I had to go research so many stories to verify–or dispel–them before I felt like I could share them or leave a comment. It was becoming impossible to ignore that this is the world we now live in. And, there was clearly an endless stream of material!

2) How did you divide up the work?

AJP: We roughly go half and half across the board, and within that sphere we each choose our own stories. Sometimes there may be a bit of (virtual) arm wrestling involved when we’re both excited about one particular topic, but for the most part we each get very attached to stories we’ve stumbled across in our own research. I know I’ve always got a mental list of stories I’m dying to include in the next volume. It’s so hard to whittle down that list!
Also: Laurie is our resident non-fiction expert, so she takes on the brunt of the work when it comes to bibliographies and other technical goodness. She also loves photo research, while I’m much more likely to spend my time digging for punny titles J

LAT: Thankfully, it worked out perfectly. We make a great team!

3) What challenges did you face in working on this book?

AJP: Some of the stories are more obscure than others, and for the lesser known ones it can be harder to find reliable research material—not to mention photographic evidence. Occasionally there is a story that would be amazing to include but for some reason isn’t possible. But for me, the biggest challenge is choosing which stories to include: Our current idea spreadsheet has over 450 listings! How are we supposed to narrow that down to just 27 stories per issue?!

LAT: Agreed! Narrowing the stories down to just 27… AND then fitting them into the strict 3/3/3 structure. It’s like a jigsaw puzzle! (Which I’ll admit is one of the reasons I love doing these books, but it is definitely a huge challenge.) And, as Joan said earlier, we each have some favorite stories that we just have to include, so it takes quite a bit of juggling to make it all fit and make sense.

4) What was your favorite story to work on?

AJP: Oh, that’s impossible for me to say! I had a ton of fun with just about every one of them, although I suppose I might be partial to a little guy named Mike. An upcoming tale of bees-gone-rogue in book #2 is a personal favorite. The book scorpions are pretty neat. Oh, and also the … sigh. Carry on!

LAT: Truly an impossible question. So many of them instantly leap to the front of my mind! Zombie ants? Giant anaconda? Poop pills? The Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus will always have a special place in my heart for several reasons. And plants! Plants are so amazing. That didn’t really answer your question, did it? J

5) How did you make the fake stories so darn believable? Embarrassed to say I did fall for them a few times.

AJP: This was the goal – I do confess that we get a delicious thrill every time we hear that this is the case! The fact is that the true stories are so unbelievable that the fake ones blend right in and are very hard to spot. There are also some terrific hoaxes already floating around out there, which are fun to take hold of and tweak a bit for inclusion in the book.

LAT: Hooray, mission accomplished! I think truth really is stranger than fiction, so we did have that on our side, as Joan said. Also, since many of our fake ones are based on existing hoaxes, they could sound familiar… Perhaps you read them on Facebook? That’s actually my greatest fear with these books, that people will remember that they read them but forget that they were actually false!

6) I understand this book is a part of a series. Can you tell us anything about the upcoming books?

AJP: They are coming, and they will be awesome! This is the kind of book series for which it seems there is an endless source of material. That idea spreadsheet I mentioned? It grows every week. I’m so excited to have two more books on the horizon, and I’m crossing fingers that we’ll get the chance to do many, many more.

LAT: Whereas the first book was about biology and life sciences, the second book will be all about social studies: history, geography, and culture. The third one… I’m going to keep that a secret for the time being.

About the Authors:

Ammi-Joan Paquette is the author of numerous books for young readers, including the Princess Juniper series, Nowhere Girl, Rules for Ghosting, and Two Truths and a Lie, co-written with Laurie Thompson. Her picture books include Bunny Bus, Ghost in the House, and The Tiptoe Guide to Tracking Fairies. Joan is the recipient of a PEN New England Discovery Award honor, and her books have been recognized with starred reviews and on a variety of “Best of the Year” lists. In her non-writing life, she is a senior literary agent with Erin Murphy Literary Agency. Visit her on the web at www.ajpaquette.com .

A former software engineer, Laurie Ann Thompson writes for young people to help them better understand the world we live in and make it a better place for all. She strives to write nonfiction that encourages imagination and fiction the reflects universal truths, as see in Be a Changemaker, and inspiring how-to guide for teens; Emmanuel’s Dream, a picture book biography of a man who changed perceptions of disability; My Dog is The Best; and the upcoming Two Truths and a Lie series for middle-grade readers (co-authored with Ammi-Joan Paquette). Learn more at lauriethompson.com and on Twitter at @lauriethompson.

Giveaway:

For a chance to win this book, let us know two truths and a lie about yourself in the comments below. (here are mine: Jumped out of a plane. Danced for 24 hours straight. Gotten stranded on a Greek island for two days.) Deadline to enter is Monday, June 12th at 9pm PST. The contest is only open to residents of the U.S. and Canada.

 

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14-Jun Bluestocking Thinking

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Novel Novice
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16-Jun Archimedes Notebook

18-Jun Nerdy Book Club

19-Jun Cracking the Cover

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21-Jun Maria’s Melange

23-Jun Unleashing Readers

24-Jun This Kid Reviews Books

May 2, 2016

Interview with Molly Idle

Last Friday, I shared the newest addition to the Flora series, FLORA AND THE PEACOCKS. Today I am excited to share with you my interview with the talented author/illustrator Molly Idle.

molly

What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your art and writing?

I think, captured in the books I make, are my feelings from childhood. Love and belonging, anxiety, anger, wonder… those feelings are what I try to connect with when I work.

Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?

Oh, so many! Visually, I am hugely influenced by classic films. If it’s a 1940s musical, filmed in Technicolor- I’ve seen it, and most likely, love it! Lovely lines are what draw me to certain artists. I never tire of watching Disney’s early animated films, and the work of the Nine Old Men, like Frank Thomas, Ollie Johnson, and Marc Davis.
And I could stare at drawings by Daumier and Degas forever.

What advice would you give to beginning authors and illustrators?

To authors, I would say: Read and write every day. To illustrators, I would say: Draw every day. Nothing will do so much good for you as consistent practice will.

Since you are an author and an illustrator, what comes first for you when creating a book?

It’s different for every book. Sometimes, an image pops into my head, and I start working from there. Other times, a name, or phrase comes to mind, and that becomes my starting point for a story. Beyond that initial “lightbulb” moment though, there’s a back and forth in the way I work between imagery and writing (if there are words in the book). Sometimes, a picture tells me what needs to be said, or more importantly, what doesn’t need to be said. And other times, it’s the text that directs my visual compositions.

The FLORA books were groundbreaking in their storytelling structure. I love how the flaps help move the story along. How did the use of flaps in that manner come about?

Prior to making picture books, I used to work in animation. When I started playing with the idea of creating a wordless picture book about friendship, told through dance, I knew it was a story that was all about movement. And I wondered if there was a way that I could bring the illusion of movement created in an animated scene, into a book. Making moveable flaps that acted as animated “key frames” was the answer!

What challenges did you face in creating a book with flaps?

The first challenge finding a publisher that was up for trying something new. Fortunately , Chronicle Books took a look at my original dummy of the book, saw what I was trying to do, and took a chance on it, and me! Not for nothing is their corporate motto “See things differently.” Once they has acquired the book, I worked in tandem with my editor, art director, and designer to figure out how the flaps would work in printing and production, and what they would cost. We also had to figure out a way to make the flaps as durable as possible!

I love how the flaps do different things in each of the books. In FLAMINGO – the flaps were showing the next scene. In PENGUIN – the flaps were showing movement along the ice. In PEACOCK – the rise and fall of the plume flaps were showing an intensified emotion of happy or sad. What things did you do to keep pushing the creative boundaries?

The stories themselves present challenges that keep me pushing my creative boundaries. Each story needs to be told in the way that best suits it. In Flamingo, the flaps needed to be such that they would allow the reader to change the characters interactions with one another. In Penguin, the characters were skating, and I needed to find a way to move them physically closer and farther apart as they skated through the book, in the same way that their relationship moved closer together, and father apart, emotionally. Hence the horizontal flaps. But in Peacocks, the story was about the push and pull of attention within a trio of friends. I wanted the reader to be an active part of that push and pull between the characters. The best way I could think of to do that, was to make the flaps part of the characters themselves. Making the tails of the Peacocks into the flaps was the ideal means of doing just that.

Your FLORA books have a beautiful movement and choreography to them. What were your influences?

The answer to this question takes us back to my love of old musicals. I could watch Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor, or Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, dance all day!
Here is a clip from Singing In The Rain that makes me smile every time…

Any future tales in-store for Flora?

Yes! Coming out in 2017 are two new Flora board books:
Flora and the Chicks, and Flora and the Ostrich!

Board books, cool! What aspects of friendship you are exploring? Will the books have your signature flaps?

As to the board books…
Flora and the Chicks is a counting book, and Flora and the Ostrich is a book of opposites.

florachicks

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Some rapid fire questions.

What would you be doing if you weren’t an author/illustrator?

I might go back to making movies… or maybe I’d try my hand at something completely different, like gardening.

Favorite pick me up snack/drink?
Espresso!

What book is on your bedside table?

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, by Jules Verne

Where can readers find you on the Internet?
www.idleillustration.com
Facebook: Idle Illustration
Instagram: @mollyidle
Twitter: @mollyidle

Thank you Molly for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself. Wishing you many future successes.

March 2, 2016

Interview with Julie Falatko and Snappsy

Yesterday I shared the humorous SNAPPSY THE ALLIGATOR (DID NOT ASK TO BE IN THIS BOOK). Today I am excited to share with you my interview with debut author Julie Falatko and her sidekick Snappsy!

Julie_02Can you tell us a little about your writing journey? Ups/Down/Anything in Between

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I’ve loved books and writing my whole life. The problem was that I didn’t realize that “writer” is an actual real job that people still do. I loved writing, but it didn’t occur to me that living humans could be writers. So I got an English degree, and very briefly tried teaching, and got a library degree, and worked as a technical writer and a copywriter. Those are the only types of writers I thought I could be: writers who wrote bank brochures. I was in my mid-30s when it suddenly dawned on me that the people writing the books that came out every year were a) alive and b) human.

What aspects of childhood do you like to capture in your writing?

So much of being a kid is being an intrepid explorer of a new and wondrous world. Kids go out and find giant flowers and blimps and sweaters with dolman sleeves and it’s all like, “WHAT IS THIS STUFF?” and the grownups are cynical and tired and shrug and say, “You know. Stuff.” I like to capture that thread of the world being a magical, cool place.

Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?

For picture books: William Steig, Russell Hoban, Arnold Lobel, James Marshall, Mac Barnett, Adam Rex, Bob Shea. Gosh, that’s so many dudes. That’s embarrassing, but those guys are absolutely huge influences on my writing.

For creative living (how to navigate a creative life with humor and grace and hopefully not starve in the process): Carter Higgins, Elizabeth Stevens Omlor, Melissa Guion, Jen Corace, Lucy Ruth Cummins, Tim Miller, Greg Pizzoli, Ame Dyckman, Jory John, Russ Cox, Tina Kugler, Dasha Tolstikova, Sage Blackwood, Zachariah OHora, Diandra Mae, Josh Nash, Dev Petty, Lauren Eldridge, Isabel Roxas, Anne Ursu. They are my friends but more than that I feel like the internet has allowed me to create a happy little biosphere that I can populate with this magical room full of amazing, hilarious, creative, wonderpeople. If I make a stack of their books on the floor, it practically glows at me in encouragement. They are the people I look to when I’m feeling unmoored or uninspired, and they inspire me with their view of the world.

I listen to podcasts a lot and sometimes the process of hearing someone else tell a kind of story out loud helps to shake my story loose. At the top of the list are Can I Pet Your Dog, One Bad Mother, Let’s Get Busy, Mystery Show, Dear Sugar, and The Yarn.

The book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert has become a constant touchstone for creative inspiration.

Also Paul Simon’s eponymous first album is jam-packed with story songs, and I put that on while I’m making dinner and sing along loudly and it’s a quick reminder of how story structure works.

Can you share your writing process with us? Panster/plotter, paper/pen. Specific habits or tips that have served you well?

For picture books I’m always a pantser. I may have some idea of where the story is going to go, but usually not. I’ve written stories where I write one sentence and walk away for a while – hours or a day – until I figure out what the next sentence is going to be.

For longer books (chapter books, MG, YA) I do come up with some sort of outline. I don’t do anything formal. I make chapters or scenes in Scrivener to get a sense of the structure. I tend to write those books out of order, so it’s helpful to know where to put the random scene I wrote that day.

I write a lot in pencil in notebooks. I keep notebooks all over the place. I love the sensory aspects (and the lack of distraction) when writing something out in pencil. Then I revise it as I type it in. And then I usually have to print it out again at some point and write more on it in pencil to figure out where it’s going.

The habit that has served me well came about by accident – I had to wake up early to write because that’s the only time my house was quiet. But now it’s a habit and I love waking up and getting started on writing first thing.

Snappsy and “the Narrator” are so cleverly written. I love both their voices. Anything in particular that helped to bring their distinctive personalities out?

It helped to come up with exaggerated versions of the characters when I was thinking about how they might react to any situation. The narrator might be Marty Stouffer or David Attenborough. He likes hearing himself talk, and he likes narrating. Once I described Snappsy as John McClane (from “Die Hard”) because he’s this regular guy that got thrust into a crazy situation. Although Snappsy doesn’t know how to shoot a gun, and instead of a dirty tank top, he wears a tie. Snappsy is also sort of like Ron Swanson. He wants to be alone, in his house, doing his things. He wants everyone to mind their own beeswax.

Would you like to tell us a little about your upcoming titles?

The Society for Underrepresented Animals is about a bunch of offbeat animals who start a support group because they’re not in any of the picture books. They’re thinking of writing their own book. Then a bunny shows up, and they’re all offended because of course the bunny has been in so many books. That one is going to be illustrated by Charles Santoso. I’m so excited to work with Charles! He’s amazing.

Help Wanted: One Rooster is about a cow who has to interview rooster candidates because the farm’s rooster ran off. Everyone she interviews is worse than the last. Some of them aren’t even roosters.

Anything else you would like to share with our readers?

Writing and getting published are such a slow process, and that’s fine. It’s what makes for better books. Don’t let yourself feel rushed. The process is going to be slow no matter what, so you might as well embrace it and take the time to make the best book you can, and to write more books and better books all the time.

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Now some rapid fire questions for Snappsy.

Who is your best friend?

My what? Oh. Uh. Huh. I guess it’s this chicken who keeps bringing cheese plates to my house.

What is your snack of choice?

Pretzels dipped in peanut butter.

What is your favorite vacation spot?

My own comfy chair.

If you weren’t an alligator what animal would you like to be?

A bear. That hibernation thing sounds fun.

What’s it like working with Ms. Falatko?

She followed me around a lot. She’s nice and all, but she’s almost as pesky as that chicken.

Where can we follow you and Ms. Falatko?

Julie’s website is juliefalatko.com, and she’s on Twitter @JulieFalatko and on Facebook at JulieFalatkoAuthor.

 

Thank you Julie and Snappsy for stopping by today and sharing a bit about yourself. Wishing you many future successes (and Chicken too).

October 10, 2015

Interview with Jack and Holman Wang

Cozy-Classics-Jack-and-Holman-Wang

Today I am have an awesome interview lined up with the duo team, Jack and Holman Wang, that are the creators behind the Star Wars Epic Yarn books and Cozy Classics series. Checkout my review of the Epic Yarn series and a chance to win the books! Enjoy!

1) Prior to creating the Star Wars Epic Yarns books, you created a series of board books called Cozy Classics which abridged adult classics such as Les Miserables, Oliver Twist, and Emma. What was the driving force behind bringing these stories to young children?

J: I came up with the concept for Cozy Classics after my older daughter was born. I was reading a lot of word books about things like colors, shapes and animals, which got a little stale. That’s when I started thinking about how to make board books more fun and original for kids and adults. I came up with the idea with abridging classics in twelve words, and organizing word books around the concept of narrative. Then Holman came up with the idea of needle-felted illustrations. That’s when Cozy Classics was born.

H: We wanted our books to appeal to any one of any age, serving as true word primers for wee ones, storytelling vehicles for older kids, and fun, ironic abridgements for adults. Hopefully, we’ve achieved that goal.

 

2) Who are your creative influences – in books, art, or any other media?

H: One of our literary heroes is Maurice Sendak. He once talked about a great misconception regarding children’s books: that they should always be healthy, funny, clever and upbeat. But Sendak wanted to show “the little tattered edges of what life is like.” So in Where the Wild Things Are, Max yells at his mom (unheard of for a children’s book at the time). In the Night Kitchen features full frontal nudity of a little boy, while Outside Over There depicts a fantastical baby kidnapping by goblins! So we agree with Sendak’s attitude that children’s books don’t need to be hyper-sanitized.

 

3) Where you always into crafts? How did you come upon needle felting and why did you choose it as your medium versus other 3D art styles?

Jack and Holman Wang - Halloween CostumesJ: I wouldn’t say we were always into “crafts.” We made a lot of stuff when we were kids, like our own Halloween costumes out of cardboard, without any help from our parents. We didn’t think of it as “crafting.” We were just doing stuff as kids and having fun.

H: As an adult, I never thought of myself as a “crafter” until I taught myself to needle felt, expressly for the purpose of illustrating Cozy Classics. Needle felting is actually a fairly new crafting technique that is still growing in popularity, but it seemed old-fashioned in a way that we thought resonated perfectly with the classics.

 

4) Is it truly amazing that you are able to boil down the essence of each movie into 12 words. Can you share your process for determining which scenes and which words to choose?

J: When you only have twelve words to work with, you have to focus on the main narrative arc. You can’t just pick the twelve coolest or most iconic scenes from each book or movie, because you have to make sure there’s at least some sense of narrative continuity for the uninitiated. Then you need to ensure that each image conveys in a direct way a child-friendly word or concept. So a lot goes into determining each page.

H: For example, Star Wars Epic Yarns: A New Hope begins with the words “princess” and “trouble,” because that’s the essence of the story: a princess is in trouble and needs to be rescued. The next two words are “boy” and “learn”—Luke needs to learn to use the Force and become a Jedi. So on one level, our books just pair simple words with simple images, but on another level we’re trying to help parents and kids find the story arc for each character.

 

5) Did illustrating Star Wars seem daunting since it is so iconic and universally recognizable? What steps did you take to make the art as authentic as possible to the movies?

H: Absolutely, it was daunting! When abridging classic novels, there’s always room for interpretation, because the original text is written. But with Star Wars, the original “text” is filmic, so we knew that readers would have a very clearly idea of what they wanted to see. So it was less about interpretation and more about homage. We ensured authenticity by watching the movies again and again, and studying film stills, and then recreating sets and doing location photography as slavishly as we could.

J: We even flew down to the Imperial Sand Dunes in California—where George Lucas filmed parts of Return of the Jedi—for the desert scenes on Tatooine. It doesn’t get more authentic than that!

 

6) Any new books we should be on the look out for?

J: Yes! Our Cozy Classics series is moving over to Chronicle Books starting next spring. Chronicle will be re-issuing backlist titles, as well as three new titles: Great Expectations (spring 2015), The Nutcracker (fall 2015) and The Wizard of Oz (spring 2016).

 

7) Where can readers find you on the Internet?

H: Our website is jackandholman.com and our Twitter handle is @jackandholman. You can find all of our additional social media pages from there!

 

Check out this video to get a Behind the Scenes look at the making of the Star Wars Epic Yarn books!

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