Happy May and Happy May Day!
This is Jan Brett and this is my May Hedge a gram. My Hedge a gram is
like an author's diary, that I put on my Internet site so future illustrators
and writers will have an idea about what my job is like.
My work on Gingerbread Friends is well under way. I've written the story
in long hand and my husband Joe typed it on the computer word processor. My
editor, who works for Penguin Books for Young Readers in New York City has
approved the idea for the book, and has read the first draft. She gave me some
good ideas about what elements or parts of the story I should emphasize. Now,
I'm working on the book dummy, which is a cartoon version of my book. It will
be like the finished book because it will have 32 pages, but it will be in the
form of story boards. I like the freedom of being able to change things around,
and shape them at this stage. The challenge is to spend about three weeks on
it. If I go too far with it, it will be harder to change. Sometimes I take out
sections or add scenes. On the other hand, if I don't draw the pictures with my
best efforts, the editor and art director will not have enough to go by.
One thing I have going for me is that my story is set in winter, in the
snow. Just the time that baking cookies seems very welcoming. Since my main
character is a cookie, I will do some baking myself. Some people like
barbecuing, other people like fancy meals, or have a cuisine that is interesting
to them. For me, I've always loved baking. When I was in high school, I loved
baking bread. When my daughter was little, I took great pride in making all the
bread we ate, whole wheat bread, raisin bread, English muffins, and a big
favorite, cornmeal bread. Because I have a sweet tooth, cookies are fun to
make, especially when they come in fanciful shapes and with decorations.
Creating a main character that is a cookie takes the cake!
When I retold and illustrated The Gingerbread Baby in 1999, it ended with
the cookie boy that came alive not being eaten, but being tempted into Mattie's
hands with a gingerbread house just his size. At the end of the book I imagined
that the Gingerbread Baby would be happy just so long. I knew that there was
another adventure in store for him or maybe two!
Whatever you choose for your project, keep yourself open, my story kept
morphing into different ideas. When this happens, it's almost like the story is
writing itself. That's when I just hold on and go along for the ride. I wait
and edit the story once it runs its course.
Good luck with your story ideas!