Last week I was tagged by the fantastically funny Erin Soderberg whose latest book THE QUIRKS: Welcome to Normal comes out June 4,2013!
1. What is the working title of your next book?
The Three Triceratops Tuff. It’s out now!
2. Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’m an early childhood educator. Kids are always giving me ideas for books. Most of then publishers wouldn’t touch. Kids would love them, but not parents. The Three Triceratops Tuff was an exception.
Three four year-old boys in my class loved hearing the story of the The Three Billy Goats Gruff. We had been reading the Paul Galdone picture book in class a lot. These same three kids loved dinosaurs. Put two and two together. The kids started pretending to be different dinosaurs while playing out the story of the three goats. I thought that was pure genius!
I quickly figured out how that idea could work as a picture book. A triceratops would make a great goat because of its horns, a T-rex would make a great troll, and a valley would replace the bridge. The first draft of the story was a very close retelling of the original tale but with dinosaurs. Several drafts and dummies later, with the help of my fabulous editor, Andrea Welch, I was able push the personalities of the individual dinosaurs and shape the story to have a different meaning.
3. What genre does your book fall under?
The Three Triceratops Tuff is a picture book for 3 – 8 year-olds. It is also a retelling of a classic folk tale. Most importantly it falls under the “dinosaur” genre.
4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
Stanley Tuff (the youngest Tuff brother) would be played by Eddie Deezen. Rufus Tuff (the middle Tuff brother) would be played by Bradley Bolke, the voice of Chumley on Tennessee Tuxedo. Bob Tuff (the largest Tuff brother) would be played by Clint Eastwood (before the empty chair incident). And the T-rex would be played by John Waters. I actually had John Waters in mind the entire time I was writing The Three Triceratops Tuff. I almost gave the T-rex a little mustache.
5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
The Three Triceratops Tuff is a cretaceous retelling of the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
6. Who is publishing your book?
The wonderfully fabulous Beach Lane Books!
7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I had this idea mulling around for at least 5 years before I sat down to write the story. The first draft only took me a couple of weeks to actually write.
8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Of course there are the numerous retellings of The Three Billy Goats Gruff. Paul Galdone’s version is one of my favorites. There are also several dinosaur retellings of fairytales like Dinorella by Pamela Duncan Edwards and more recently Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems.
9. Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Those three four year-olds.
10. What else about the book might piqué the reader’s interest?
As I started revisions of the story a new story popped up. This was the story of the dinosaurs in the background. The story became more global and less focused purely on the brother Tuff’s problem with the T-rex. I started to think of the T-rex as a horrible dictator who was starving the people and killing them. The herbivores (all the dinosaurs in the background are herbivores) became the oppressed 99% and the T-rex was the cruel 1% hoarding all the food/wealth. The whole time I was working on these revisions the Arab Spring was happening, Occupy had begun, and there were protests in Wisconsin. These events played heavily into the development of the final story.
Now I’ll tag a couple of my favorite authors (and friends) who have books coming out soon — check their blogs next week for their answers!:
Trisha Speed Shaskan’s Truly, We Both Loved Beauty Dearly! The Story of Sleeping Beauty as Told By the Good and Bad Fairies illustrated by Amit Tayal, published by Picture Window Books comes out this Fall!
Jamie A Swenson’s BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! illustrated by David Walker, publish by Farrar, Straus & Giroux comes out May 28th, 2013!