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It started out this way: a boy would be asleep and there would be creatures appearing in his dream. Perhaps in alphabetical order. The focus would be on the train of creatures in the dream. The readers would be ‘watching’ a circus show.
Sounds like a good idea for a picture book.
Somehow, my mind kept drifting to the boy. The only quiet element in the ruckus.
Who was he? How was he like? Did he … want something?
Contrasts & Imagery
Wynn’s conflicts are based on my experience as an insecure introvert. Right from when I’d known the boy would be a quiet child, the image of a bout of fresh, gentle night wind came to me. He would be the Night Wind King, soft and clear.
So I looked for imagery in the night sky, in clothings, in masks and real appearances, and in music.
The train of contrasts followed:
- Wynn’s ‘shy and nestled voice’ VS the noisy swallows stirring the sky;
- a pale boy in soft-colored pajamas VS rowdy children in clown/T-Rex costumes;
- soft flute music VS clattery-clack drum beats;
- a bout of night wind VS sparks that crack the sky.
Soon the sounds and silence began to mix. I started to think about presenting the story in a musical way.
So I Wrote In Verse, Which
… nearly did me in.
The concept was to set the tone in a softly blowing manner with a consistent rhythm. I’d wanted the language to be part of the wind imagery. Even Wynn’s worries would be presented in a style that was very honest and clear, like a voice that’s right next to your ears. No additional noise necessary.
Each word was reconsidered and each line revised over and over.
Then came another challenge …
Combining Story with Art
Usually, the illustrator would take charge of the artistic direction, working closely with the editor on the book concept. In our case, I was the writer and the editor. And Sarah hadn’t learned to interpret a children’s book text as a professional illustrator yet. (My Clearest Me would be her first children’s book.)
So we did what we could:
While writing the manuscript, I was already visualizing the artistic direction of each page.
Would this be a single picture in a double-page? Would this be a close-up? How could we show the contrast between Wynn and the other kids?
I related to Sarah my ideas and showed her a flimsy book dummy I’d made. She got things very quickly.
About a week later, she showed me the storyboard. We went through each page and tweaked the drafts, with Sarah putting in her ideas and details along the way. They worked amazingly. There wasn’t a moment of frustration during our partnership. None at all. It was so fun for us, and the book has turned out to be as whimsical and magical as we’d hoped it would be!
We’d done our best to sail this ebook out. Fingers-crossed, we just hope the rest of the world will like Wynn’s story, too!
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A postscript from Claudia: My Clearest Me is a small gift of courage for children who are exploring their inner world. And if you have a minute, it’d be truly wonderful if you could help us grow and share your thoughts on Amazon. Good story? Not so good? I’d love to read what you think!
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