October 3, 2006

Inspiration is Mysterious

"Cookie spent lots of time in the library. He read books about pirates, rocket ships, and dinosaurs. Detective stories were his favorites."

That's one of my favorite lines in 'One Smart Cookie'. I'm so glad it didn't get edited out since it doesn't really carry the plot too much, but there's just something about it. Maybe it's important because it shows Cookie getting lost in a book... filling his doggy head with knowledge about the the world around him. I guess I wanted to point out the riches that can be found in a library... and in this particular case it took the family pet to discover them.

Anyhow, it all started one morning when I read a title to an online post in a business forum. The post title was 'Good read, Dog'... and that was all it took. Something connected in my brain in a way I'd never have been able to predict, inspiring the story that shortly became 'One Smart Cookie'. Twenty minutes later most of it was all written out.

Most of my stories happen about like that. Just a single word or phrase that sets me off and it's almost like I'm jotting it down as fast as I can after that. But turning this story into a real book took much longer. I've got dozens and dozens of stories all written out... that's the easy part.

To wit... here's the chronology of 'One Smart Cookie' since it's odd beginnings:

1999: wrote original story inspired by the title to an internet post
1999: did a rough dummy and sent it out to three houses
2000: had a favorable response from one editor who suggested it needed more development and a different ending.
2001: rewrote ending and resubmitted... never heard back.
2001 - 2005: September 11th sort of brought everything to a total stop. I never did hear back from the first editor.
2005: I finally decided I'm never going to see this book in print if I don't just start sending it around again.
2005: reworked the dummy with InDesign... using same art but used a different and more sophisticated packaging. InDesign works wonders for dummies!
2005: sent out story to publisher A ... waited 5 months... not quite right for them.
2005: sent out story to publisher B... sold in 1 week!
2005: was given 6 months to do finish art. Worked through Christmas Holidays, which is about par for a freelance illustrator.
2006: delivered finish art.
2006: finally appears in print!

So... in this line of work, instant gratification it's NOT!

I don't know if I've done a blog post about InDesign, but I ought to. It's the greatest software ever for putting together a book dummy.


roz said...

Please do post about indesign. I have the program but haven't dabbled with it yet!
Many congratulations on your book, it sounds adorable and will definitely be getting myself a copy.

Anonymous said...

I love the illustrations, John! I like the way you use textures and patterns in with the washes.
Congrats on it's being published!

John Nez said...

Thanks for the kind words.

I used a combination of mostly real paint and a bit of digital to achieve the final outcome. My own, trade secret techniques. I suppose most artists have them.

I was pleased with how the 'Cookie' came out.

Soozcat said...

Oh my! That's fun. I had a dog named Cookie when I was a child... only this one was a rather nasty-tempered black cockapoo mix. I like yours considerably better.