Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Now I just need more teens, tweens, librarians, teacher-types, fellow authors and friends to drop in, become friends and say hi!
Do YOU know any teens, tweens, teachers or librarians? Please send them my way. www.MySpace.com/ShiftyTheBook
There's a catchy tune playing there, too. Please come listen.
Saturday, May 23, 2009
An Interview with Doug Cushman, the Wildly Talented Illustrator of THE AMAZING TRAIL OF SEYMOUR SNAIL
Lynn: Have you always enjoyed drawing and painting? What kinds of things did you create as a child?
Doug: I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t drawing or writing. I made books when I was eight or nine years old. One was called SPACE CAT; a cat in a space suit who crash landed on a prehistoric planet and battled dinosaurs. Forty-plus years later I published SPACE CAT (with some changes) for my 100th book for HarperCollins. I haven’t changed all that much!
Lynn: That's such a great story. Do you have any quirky habits or rituals that feed your creative process?
Doug: I listen to a lot of music and draw a lot of pictures in my sketch books to get the juices flowing. I find going to a café sometimes in the afternoon with my notebook or laptop helps; it’s a change of scenery.
Lynn: What is your workspace or studio like? Are you well organized or surrounded by creative clutter? Do you have any toys that inspire you?
Doug: The place is a mess. ‘Nuff said.
Lynn: How did you first hear from Holt about illustrating Seymour? What were the initial steps? What media did you use for this book?
Doug: I was visiting Holt and chatting with Reka (our editor). She said she might have something to show me. That was pretty much it. I’ve known the folks at Holt for years, they’re old friends.
My usual process is to design the characters then launch into the sketches, pacing the text out. The finishes were done in watercolor and ink, my usual working method.
Lynn: Was there any character or part of the story of The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail that you particularly enjoyed illustrating?
Doug: Your story so reminded me of all the crazy nonsense that was going on in the art world with the big galleries and artists back in the 70s; I wanted to play with all those images and characters.
Lynn: What was most challenging part of the process? How did you overcome that challenge?
Doug: Pacing out the book, figuring out what I wanted to illustrate and “enhance” (the text really told the story, my drawings were just decorations really). Trying to balance the text and pictures on each page is always difficult.
Lynn: When you were working on Seymour, did any children give you any input on any characters or scenes?
Doug: Nope, no kids, no one really. I had lots of bug books and a large snail shell that I found in the countryside in Burgundy. That shell was my main inspiration.
Lynn: Kirkus Reviews praised The Amazing Trail of Seymour Snail with:
"Engaging characters and winning art create a solid addition to the field of transitional literature…"
"Cushman’s anthropomorphized bugs from the art gallery are a hoot..."
Could you please share any secrets of how you made Seymour and the other buggy characters so fun and expressive?
Doug: I draw what I see ;-)
Lynn: Did anyone you know become a knowing or unwitting model for one of the characters in The Amazing Trail of Seymour Trail?
Doug: No one I know personally but there’s probably a little of me in Seymour.
Lynn: Please tell us a little about your career as an artist and illustrator. How did you get started?
Doug: As I said, I’ve always been drawing and writing stories so it wasn’t any stretch to decide to make my living as an author/illustrator. I went to a private art school in Connecticut and, after graduating, just showed my portfolio to anyone that was willing to look at it. It took 3 or 4 years to get my first book. Even after 120+ books under my belt, I still feel I have A LOT to learn about drawing and story-telling.
Lynn: 120 Books! Wow. Please tell us about any of your other upcoming projects.
Doug: I’m always working on two or three things at any given time; but I’m of the school of not saying anything about works in progress, the old superstition about jinxing the work, etc.
Lynn: Thanks Doug. Do you have any final advice for aspiring children's book illustrators?
Doug: Just keep drawing and painting and learning. And try to stay focused. And eat your vegetables.
Lynn: Seymour would agree with all of that! Imaginary Readers can find Doug at his website: www.doug-cushman.com
Forecast: Writing, drawing, painting, learning, focus, and of course, vegetables!
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Books, Berets, Friends & Fun!
Yes, last Saturday was fun with a celebration for my new book, THE AMAZING TRAIL OF SEYMOUR SNAIL illustrated by Doug Cushman. It was doubly fun because it was a double book launch party for Elissa Haden Guest and her new book, HARRIET'S HAD ENOUGH! Here come some pics of the celebration.
(Below) Mr. Stink Bug in the window holding a copy of THE AMAZING TRAIL OF SEYMOUR SNAIL.
Me, my son Mike & Liz. Mike helped with the mechanics of Seymour zipping around and around the window display on a hidden Lego train. Thanks, Mike! See the video below. What fun!
Seymour Slimes His Way from Lynn H on Vimeo.
More friends below:
If you missed the party but still want a signed copy of any of Lynn's or Elissa's books, please call
Cover to Cover at 415-282-8080
Saturday, May 16, 2009
Friday, May 15, 2009
Saturday May 16th
10 a.m. to noon
Cover to Cover in San Francisco
1307 Castro St (between 24th St & Jersey St)
San Francisco, CA 94114
And of course if you have a beret (or other fun hat), please wear it!
Be like Seymour, And Monet, Be creative, And wear a beret.
My friends Ryoko & Shannon went with me recently to the Berkeley Hat Store in search of the perfect beret. Take a look at some of the wonderful hats we found. Come to the book Launch Party to see what we ended up with!
Forecast: Hat Fun! And stay tuned for the vid of Seymour as he slimes his way around and around Cover to Cover's window display. What fun!
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
The first one is a short (90 seconds) video of the completed SHIFTY Card. The next one is the 8 minute "How To."
You can download the free pdf pattern to make your own SHIFTY Card at www.ShiftyTheBook.com. Once you are there, click on the Students & Teachers link.
Thanks for taking a look. And if you make your own SHIFTY Card, please post a vid and let me know where so I can see your personal artistic touches. Thanks!
SHIFTY was chosen for VOYA'S Top Shelf Fiction, as a CCBC Choice, and a Smithsonian Notable. More info about my YA novel, SHIFTY, can be found at www.ShiftyTheBook.com. Please forward to interested teens, teachers and librarians. And tell them I'm available for high school, middle school, and library visits!
I have a few other author videos I created on Vimeo. You can see more info on my profile there.
I know "Seymour's Pub Date" sounds like our little snail is off to have a beer with his buggy buddies. But really, a book's "pub date" is the date a book is released for publication, the date it is available to order or purchase from your favorite store. Kind of like a book's birthday!
Today's the day! Happy Pub Date to Seymour!
If you're in the San Francisco area, please join me for Seymour's Book Launch Party this Saturday, May 16th, from 10 a.m. to noon at Cover to Cover Booksellers. 1307 Castro St, San Francisco, CA 94114. You can call to order signed copies after the event. (415) 282-8080
You should see the colorful window display there. What fun! My son Mike lent his electric Lego train and creative mechanical engineering expertise so that a hidden Lego-powered train car zooms slimy Seymour round and around the window. My friends Charlesie & Ryoko helped paint a colorful platform and create flowers, snails and funny bugs. I'll try to get some pics and a video or two up soon. Thanks everybody. It takes a village to launch a book!
If you are far from San Francisco or have other Saturday plans,
Please order SEYMOUR from your local independent bookstore at Indie Bound.
Here is what Kirkus has to say about my favorite snail...
"Seymour Snail is an endearing artist..."
"Cushman’s anthropomorphized bugs from the art gallery are a hoot..."
"Creative wordplay abounds..."
"Engaging characters and winning art create a solid addition to the field of transitional literature."
KIRKUS REVIEWS, April 1, 2009
SEYMOUR loves Indie Bookstores!
Or if you are Amazon-inclined you can order SEYMOUR here.
Forecast: Something to celebrate! Please celebrate with me this Saturday. And wear your beret! Be like Seymour, And Monet, Be creative, And wear a beret!