Developing an Idea in The Whens

When Louisa Rempala and I started working on The Whens together, it was the first time I had ever worked with an illustrator. Because I had complete freedom creating the story, it was important to us both that she had as much creative freedom as well — but man it’s tough to give up control!

It was peculiar to watch my words come to live. I had vividly clear images about the book in my mind and her pictures were completely different (yet they matched the story just as well). For example, I grew up with dry, golden fields of wheat blowing in the dusty wind — but she came from a lush country of greens and blues… so it was quite a shock to see a cool color palette in the book instead of reds and yellows.  But that was what I also liked about working with someone: she had so many ideas I would have never come up with on my own… and that made the book better than I could have ever done alone.

Here are some pictures of the first page as it transitioned from a raw idea to the finished product.  Hope you enjoy!

Whens Idea

My rough sketch to explain hills with signs pointing to happiness when i pitched the story to Louisa.

Whens Rough Sketch

Louisa’s rough sketch for the first page… trying to figure out what the main character will look like and how prevalent to make the monsters.

Whens Experimenting

We experimented with the story at night, but ultimately wanted the whole thing at day (because that worked better with the cloud watching).

Whens Final Product

The final result.  Thanks Louisa for all your hard work!

When did you meet your muse?

I never thought much about my muse(s) until I took a year off to write in New Zealand. I was unemployed and poor — just like all struggling authors should be. But then I stumbled across this Ted Talk which changed my view about creativity.  In it she claims that all creativity comes from your muse.  If people don’t like what you wrote, you probably had a bad muse assigned to the case.

It’s freeing to think that creativity can come from a muse and all I need to do is show up and write. I don’t need to be poor and depressed — worrying if the world will like me. I just had to write. Just show up and write.

Creativity from a muse feels right… so many ideas pop into my head without ever purposefully thinking them… that makes it much easier to believe in muses.

So thanks, muse, for all the hard work… see you tomorrow!