I just got off the phone with one of my friends who goes to UMW. She was all in a tizzy telling me about how she saw a gorilla on campus yesterday (well..on Tuesday-it’s so late that now it’s Thursday-too much caffeine, I suppose!). Apparently he was handing out bananas with something written on them. Strange, much? She thought of me because she’s seen my sketches for Gavin. “Oh my gosh it was just like your gorilla character!! He was trying to make new friends!!!!” Yeah – a lot like him, actually. Unfortunately she couldn’t remember any defining characteristics other than “he was a gorilla!” so it’s hard to say what’s going down over there in Mary Wash land.
So you can understand why I’m experiencing some déjà vu, even though I did not see said gorilla. Sounds a lot like my Gavin the lonely gorilla, huh? Anyone else see this guy around?
I hate remembering things. Tonight, even Floyd has no words of wisdom, bubbles coming from his castle tell me he doesn’t want to talk either…Drawing a Gavin falling in love with a very special friend, I can’t help but remember : ( about my own well less than successful love life. We used to walk around (I don’t even want to say your name) when you visited me at school. Too bad you got snatched up by that skank of a magpie. I felt like she took you away from me just because she thought you were some shiny jewel. Why couldn’t you tell that she didn’t really love you? She wanted you because you were novel to her. Ugh, well Gavin, you and I can work through this right? I wonder what happened to her, after she flew off with you to her nest filled with other cheap trinkets. Maybe I need to be the magpie too. It doesn’t look all that bad really.
I found this photo floating around Flickr (cc licensed flickr photo by Cats 2007: http://flickr.com/photos/cats2007/2813622366/). She looks proud and dignified, ready to take on any challenge that comes her way. She’s a magpie, the queen of scavengers, empress of collectors. Nothing stands in her way of beautifying her nest. (Heaven knows my apartment is a mess and doesn’t have any thing cool other than me and Floyd…roommate and I had a fight *roll eyes*)
Maybe there is always that magpie flying around looking to take something or that someone from you. I like keeping my stories up beat and positive, but maybe Gavin needs some challenge. I grew a lot from my, needless to say, rough experience. Ugh frustrated and jaded and worst of all out of coffee.
Gavin, meet the universe. Universe meet Gavin!! He looks a little sad right now, but he is on the hunt for new friends and wonderful adventures. He left his home and doesn’t know too many other people just yet. Like I mentioned before, Gorillas have this way about them…they can express so much emotion just by being themselves. It’s hard getting say a fuzzy squirrel to look anything beyond adorable or frightening (‘pending on how hungry). Nope, Gavin the Gorilla just has to exist. Instead of feeling like I am trying to force emotions on him, he takes on a life of his own. It seems weird to make him a sad gorilla, not too mention a little depressing. Yet I just see how leaving everything you’ve ever known can be such a challenge. You want someone to notice you…tell you how special you are, friendship, you know? Maybe deep down, I’m just like Gavin.
So I think Gavin is a pretty special guy who likes to have fun and wander just about anywhere. I mean otherwise how would he have left the zoo? He knows life is an adventure and charges directly at it. But what fun is all that without some people to enjoy it with you?
A little piece of me wants to be like Gavin, not hairy all over!! But to be satisfied with making new friends. All the time, I am always searching for my muse, my genius. Yet here’s Gavin who the only thing he only needs friendship to turn him from a sad Gorilla to having the biggest smile on his fuzzy face. I might start putting up some more of his pictures to give you all some stealthy sneak peaks of his adventure. Gavin, will you be my friend? I’m not willing to get those shots, so maybe just pen pals? Ha facebook friends?! : P Yeah…I’m a little weird getting all mopey like that! I have to keep working on this. My gorilla needs friends. I need to get the message out to the world. You don’t have to be a lonely girl or boy, no matter how old you are.
It’s a little strange for an author to get writer’s block at the same time as one of her characters. Allow me to explain: in Gavin the Lonely Gorilla, Gavin attempts to write poetry in hopes of winning over a very special friend. Unfortunately, gorillas don’t have much practice in writing poetry (who knew?). Anyway, he’s trying his hand at both haikus and acrostic poems. He’s epic failing at haikus (big surprise) – but is he failing, or am I? Fiddlesticks! I had no idea that I was this terrible at poetry! Anyone wanna help me (and poor Gavin) out? Here’s what I’m working with so far:
I like bananas
Do you like bananas too?
Gavin thinks they’re great.
Looking for new friends
Is not so easy to do
For a gorilla.
I have a question
Please you would you listen to me?
Would you be my friend?
Don’t let them tell you
Bananas are just a fruit
They are so much more.
Since I’ve been getting this question a lot recently, I figure I ought to address it here. Whenever someone finds out that I’m an author, they always want to know what I write about. Then they want to know where the young children’s book writer gets her ideas for her animal stories. Obviously she grew up with a houseful of pets or spent every minute she could at the zoo, right? Unfortunately for me, that’s not the case at all. Allegra and Zyrtec don’t even touch my animal allergies and the idea of having to go in to the doctor for allergy shots every few weeks just isn’t appealing. Needles give me the shivers and besides, tissues are a lot more affordable than shots, especially for an up and coming author/artist. No, I get my inspiration elsewhere. It may seem backwards, but I think the big reason I write animal characters is because of the distance I’ve always had to keep from them. Writing stories about animals makes me feel just a little closer to their world. They’re also way more fun to draw than people, especially playing with their expressions. Animals with eyebrows? Definitely!
The majority of my ideas spark from my sketches and my most recent project, Gavin the Lonely Gorilla, is no exception. I had been messing around with drawing gorillas and was sucked in by how expressive they are without having an artist impose too much. I knew I wanted to write a story that would reach out to kids who found it difficult to make friends. I didn’t have an easy time in school and so in that way, I suppose I drew a lot of the story from my own experiences. I think that using animals as characters helps give a more lighthearted feel to a story that really is sad to start off with. What’s a good children’s book without a happy ending and a love interest as a bonus? That’s where bananas come in. Obviously gorillas already have an affinity towards bananas, so giving life to my banana character was the only thing left to do to find a way to make the relationship go both ways. It’s an exciting concept for me, because as Gavin pushes forward in the friend world, he finds a friend (or more?) somewhere unexpected. I think one of the most important lessons I learned as a child was that it’s important to get to know people, even if they come off as a bit strange. You really never know where you’ll find some of your best friends. My hope is that through Gavin, kids will realize that even though it might be hard to make friends now, eventually it all works out. It can be difficult to be a kid, and as a young author, I haven’t forgotten that fact. I hope to continue to write stories that kids can connect with and use to move forward in their own lives.
So that’s that. It might be a bit of a garbled answer, but it’s a tough question! I hope that helps. 🙂
So, being allergic to furry animals isn’t that fun. I can’t pet the dog that’s tied up to the next table over, here at Sammy T’s where I decided to stop for lunch this afternoon. It’s a nice late fall day outside, not too cold but cold enough to remind you it is fall. So I decided to sit outside because there won’t be much more opportunity for that in a couple weeks. The dog is so cute though. It’s a black lab and probably only a couple years old. It makes me thankful I’m not allergic to any foods though. I mean, maybe that’s inconsiderate to people who are allergic to a bunch of foods, but I’d much rather be able to eat nearly everything and not be able to pet the fuzzy animals … I can still look at them and draw them, which is fine. In any case, I’m eating this amazing sandwich for lunch, it’s a croissant with roast beef, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and horseradish mayo, which is tangy and compliments the roast beef really well. I think I might try and get the fixings to make this for myself at the farmer’s market this weekend, which I’m really excited about. This one farmer, Bruce, always brings really great fresh produce; I got this beautiful green pepper from him last week, and made amazing veggie fajitas with it and some onions I got as well. *Sigh* Food is amazing. I’m so glad that I found Sammy T’s. Well, I’m going to finish my sandwich and pineapple juice and then head over to Hyperion for some more inspiration!
Just getting myself back together after a crazy(!) holiday. I love all the food for Thanksgiving, but at the same time, I always feel a little bit sad for all of the animals we eat. Around this time, way too many little creatures, even if turkeys aren’t that small, are put on a one way trip from cozy farms to people’s dinner plates. Weird, I’m definitely not vegetarian or anything. I just still think about how many animals get eaten over the holidays. I celebrated thanksgiving with my roomie and Floyd. Sure, going home would have been nice, but sometimes it is nice to have a serenely quiet thanksgiving meal. Besides, Floyd’s great company! He doesn’t need to judge me for moving away or being a little quirky. Nope, he’s pretty content floating in his fish bowl, taking it easy for the day. But this isn’t about Floyd *that handsome hunk of fish* is it? Well, in honor of my concern for the well being of turkeys, I only ate a little bit of the turkey we prepared and gave the rest away to my roomie’s friends…Even though I love being here, even though people see me out and about, I still don’t know too many people. I work so dang hard writing and drawing…maybe work just doesn’t fit the feeling. Writing+draw=passion, congratulations you just witnessed the extent of my math! So a little less meat and a lot more cruelty to hapless vegetables pretty much sums up my Thanksgiving…
Oh!! Speaking of poor fuzzy little animals. I heard about this holiday called “eid al adha.” You are supposed to sacrifice a fuzzy little lamb! The people sacrificing give the meat to the poor and hungry. November just must not be the month to be a small, tasty (are lambs tasty?) animal. Not only are turkeys being eaten in gobbles, lambs don’t stand much of a chance either. I knew only an itsy bit, so I thought it was kind of weird to see the holiday. I found an article that had lots of pictures (non-sacrficical!!) http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1131239.html While I’m not thrilled, I can respect what they are doing…right?
Now, it’s about time to get back to my fantastical and whimsical storybook world!
I love Riverby’s. Let me explain. The childrens books they have in the downstairs are great to look through and what not, but it’s so much more than that. It’s ambiance and culture and enjoyment all in one place. Yea, I’m a children’s author, but I’m also an avid reader of fiction and non-fiction and poetry, so Riverby’s is great for that as well. Just yesterday, I was on the second floor in the window seat flipping through some of Emily Dickinson’s work. Talk about the opposite of what you write for Children’s books. I flipped through some picture books too though, so don’t worry. I think my favorite part about Riverby’s is the smell. I love the smell of old books, and maybe that’s one of the things that got me reading more when I was younger or something, but I can’t get enough of it. Every time I walk into a used book store … I just stand there and close my eyes for a minute and take in the scent of the place. I guess the other aspect that’s great is that you’re helping the environment, not purchasing a new book, but one that someone’s already read, or attempted. You’re recycling and trying to make the world a better place, or something like that. In any case, Riverby’s is great and plays this role of inspiration or similar in my life.
So the weather has decided to grace Fredericksburg with yet another day of rain and cold. I thought about staying home, but decided to brave the elements for a latte at Hyperion. It was most deliciously worth it. Worked some more on my new book, tentatively titled Gavin the Gorilla, and may or may not have drawn some inspiration from the banana peel on the sidewalk outside. Not much to report about the recent job search – considered inquiring after the “group excercise instructor” position in Stafford, then thought better. “Powerhouse Gym?” Yikes. Guess I’ll keep looking. In the meantime, more time to work on my new stuff! Working with a publisher now – stay tuned.
So today an old high school friend took me up to Baltimore to the big aquarium there. It was my first time ever at an aquarium (I know, I know, deprived childhood, right?) and boy, what an experience it was! I’ve gotta say, I’ve always been fascinated by the ocean. I love that the deep sea still remains somewhat of a mystery to us. Some wacky-looking fish have come up from the depths; who knows what else is down there? (Dun dun dun…) I definitely came away from the trip with a new appreciation for Floyd. He’s a good size. He’s also got an eye on either side of his face and looks normal. We saw an exhibit with summer flounder – did you know that they have both eyes on one side of their heads?! What madness! I can’t even begin to imagine living life as a flounder. Gives a whole new meaning to being flat. I wonder if it translates to their personalities. Oh, I shouldn’t say such things. I’m sure they’re lovely fish.
As always, I look for a potential story whenever I go somewhere new. I used to think that I could write one of my next stories about fish, but now I’m not so sure. First of all, they’re a lot more challenging to draw, and I don’t think I’d want to have someone else illustrate my work. Fishy texture is just something I’m not comfortable with yet. I’m also not sure I feel much of a connection with the undersea world. It might sound silly, but I’ve never been much of a swimmer or a big fan of fish (except for my dear Floyd, of course). Without any sort of passion or draw to the characters I’d have, I just don’t feel like I could do justice to a fish story. Perhaps the closest I’d get would be The Life and Times of Floyd the Fish. Floyd’s always around for modeling, maybe I’ll eventually get decent enough to draw his good-looking self. He’s also got to get a social life. Right now, he’s quite the homebody. Until then, I think I’ll stick with fuzzy creatures. Sure, I can’t get close to them without falling into a sneezing fit of doom, but maybe that’s what draws me to them and inspires me. Maybe there’s some merit to the idea that you always will want the things you know you can’t have.
Anyway, I’m off to bed and hoping to avoid nightmares of flatfish. Wish me luck!