My writing process:
First, as I said, comes the idea. More often than
not, I discuss the idea with my editor, Margaret Frith, and
my art director, Cecilia Yung.
We bounce it around like a ball, all over the
place, adding new stuff, rejecting other stuff. Then comes
the moment when I have to sit down and write the story. I always
make sure I know my characters and exactly how they "speak." I
write my first draft long hand, then I read it and make changes,
corrections and things like that. Next, my assistant, Bob Hechtel,
types it for me. I read it again, maybe making even more changes
and Bob re-types it for me.
It is time to send it to Margaret. She looks at
it, reads it, of course, maybe two or three times, then she
makes suggestions. We talk about the changes and eventually
we have a story! And a book is on its way.
My illustrating process:
I will share with you how I go about illustrating
a book. Later on - in the future - I'd like to share how I
make make my paintings, but for now, I'll stick to illustrating
The story is all finished. The next step is to "break
it up" into the various pages. We (Margaret, Cecilia and
I) also decide what size and exactly how many pages it will
be. This is called making a DUMMY. Sometimes, Margaret will "break
it up" for me to save time. She also likes doing that!
Of course, I can change things if I want.
Next, the text is
set in type so I'll know just what it will look like. Sometimes
Cecilia sends me several samples of type to look at. Then, the art department
sends me layouts of every page so I'll know exactly where the type will go
and where my pictures will go. I can change the layouts if I want to, too.
Meanwhile, I have been doing sketches of the various
characters, especially if they are new characters (I know exactly
what Strega Nona looks like so I don't have to sketch her).
If my book is going to take place in a different
place like Mexico or Italy, I'll look at dozens and dozens
of photos of those places to "exercise" my imagination.
Sometimes, but not too often, I will do VERY rough sketches
of the whole book in the DUMMY.
What I really like to do is to just jump right
in on my good paper and start lightly sketching with a pencil
and my most important tool, my eraser.
Then I do the "finished art." If I make
a mistake - and I often do - I rip up the page and start again.