As I listened to Ruthie, I discovered the magic of yielding to a story. Memory and fiction became my wings. At times I wrote about things that I thought I’d made up and was surprised when I learned that they were actually true.
Like my mother, I’ve become a collector of objects, especially while I’m writing. As I begin a new project, I gather items that tell me about the subjects or reveal setting, plot, or most importantly, the characters.
When kids ask me where I get my ideas I often say I buy them at the Dollar Store. They generally don’t find this response particularly funny, yet it doesn’t stop me from saying it time and again.
Children are eager for books that validate and empower them. I passionately believe that positive, inclusive stories can inspire all readers, no matter their gender or orientation—but because girls crave books about smart, strong female protagonists, I’m happy to see my middle grade novel Star-Crossed in their hands.
But when I walk into the studio to create art, there is a process (and steps to follow) to reach the result I desire. First, there’s the idea, which I turn into a manuscript. Next, I craft a book dummy book comprised of text and sketches.
It’s difficult, even for adults, to wrap one’s head around the fact that the elephant can weigh 22,000 pounds. So I included a simple infographic, a small silhouette of each animal, alongside another of an adult human (or a human hand, if the animal was small).