Tuesday, July 02, 2013

My Next Big Thing: COLORS FOR ZENA

The Next Big Thing is a global blog tour, started in Australia, to showcase authors and illustrators and their current work. I was tagged by the talented Rebecca Solow (I teach at SVA and she was in my class a little while ago). It is great to see what she has been up to here. I'll answer some questions about my newest book, then pass the Q & A along to several others (who were all in my SVA class at one time or another!) They will continue the tour on their blogs - so stay tuned!

What is the working title of your next book?
Who is publishing your book?

Colors for Zena” is my newest book, out this July. My publisher is Dial, a division of Penguin. (My previous publisher, Dutton and Dial combined into one and now Penguin and Random House have combined into one - Lots of changes!)

In what genre does your book fall?

Zena is a picturebook for young children (age 2-6)

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Zena's black and white world becomes more and more colorful as she discovers how colors work.
And the longer summary: A little girl named Zena has a big imagination. She has an adventure with her dog and her toy animals to discover the three primary colors and how they mix together to make all the colors in the world. She first seems to see the world through a yellow lens. Next she turns the corner and sees her world through a red lens. This monochrome world looks strange and she wants more colors. Her toy lion shows her how red and yellow mix together to make orange. And so the discovery of colors continues with the green frog and the purple monster. And at the end there is a way Zena brings all the colors together in her own creative way!
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Who or what inspired you to write this book?

When my daughter was little we played color games. Walking down the street, we would pick out everything that we saw that was red, and then blue, and so on. When we were in London one summer she loved spotting the red double decker buses for example. (Actually she made up her own word for red - “decker decker”. Back in New York she continued to say “decker decker” instead of red and it even caught on with her friends at preschool! I remember a mother was confused as to why her daughter was no longer identifying red correctly and was saying “decker decker”. I can explain, I said!) It was fun to focus in on different colors and to notice how there were so many shades of each one. Was that blue or was that purple, we would ask? At home we always had many different art materials and my daughter loved mixing and discovering for herself how colors worked.

What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? 

I love dance so much that my dream would be for my book to be acted out by dancers! And since my daughter inspired the book and is a ballet dancer, who better than her and her friends at New York City Ballet! I would love to see what movements they would come up with for Zena and the various creatures in the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

I usually start a book visually, with ideas of pictures I want to paint. I start making sketches and then try to write a first draft. Both the pictures and words go through many revisions, and I am often still working on the words after I finish the pictures. From start to finish, from first idea to sketches, revisions, and final art and manuscript, Zena took about 1 ½ years.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? 

The Color Kittens by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by two of my favorite illustrators: Alice and Martin Provensen

What else about the book might pique the reader's interest? 

At the end of the book, on the last page there is a color wheel and suggestions of some fun things to do with color. I hope readers will be inspired to be creative and paint colorful pictures themselves!

I'd like to end with the first question again!
What is the working title of your next book?
The book that I'm currently working on is about a little girl collecting leaves in the fall. I've been working on the sketches for awhile but I don't have a title yet - sometimes that is the last thing!

A BIG Congratulations to Mike Herrod on his new book Hiccup! He continues the blog tour here.

Selina Alko  discusses here her next book, A Case for Loving; The Fight for Interracial Marriage. 

I was just getting ready to ask Susanna Pitzer - who was once in SVA class and author of Not Afraid of Dogs - to do the interview when I saw she did the blog tour in April: here is her interview. She came to my SVA class as a guest speaker last term and here are her wise words!

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