When I met Laura Wilbourn at a SCBWI conference a few years back, I was immediately struck, not just by her intelligence and humor, but by the unusual, etherial quality of the picture book she had brought to show everyone she met. When I learned that she was about to publish a new book, Asterion's Elixir, I jumped to invite her to join us here and talk about her process. And look at these wonderful illustrations, which Laura does herself!
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Creating Asterion's Elixir
by Laura Wilbourn
I have always been a fan of imagination. As far back as I can remember, daydreaming has taken precedence over anything that required academic attention. In one recurring daydream that I recall vividly, I had the ability to magically transform myself into a flying unicorn. At the time, I was in first grade at the International School of Bangkok, and in this fantasy, the classroom was on fire. I transformed into a mystical creature that flew through the window and saved my class from the flames. Even though it occurred at such a young age, I feel this daydream was very telling of who I would become as a person and planted a seed from which my children’s books would originate.
In second grade, my family and I moved back to California. With the option of choosing my own wallpaper for my room, of course I chose unicorns. Between the daydreams and the wallpaper, it may not come as a surprise that my children’s book, Asterion’s Elixir, includes a unicorn!
Not only is there a unicorn, but a lot of color as well! My ultimate favorite color is blue (with red a very close second). What better place than space to fulfill this color scheme? An interesting fact about another influence in my life at the time I was writing this book: I was taking an astronomy class at Texas State about the stars and galaxies. Reading all that material and seeing all those pictures definitely sparked my mind's adventure into the unknown. This book is unique in that it contains many bright and engaging colored images, but there is an abundance of text as well. This is exactly what I wished for as a ten-year-old girl. I was never satisfied with the illustration-text ratio. It was either a lot of text and few pictures, or it was very little text and so many pictures. How do you solve this dilemma? Make your own children’s book! Make it exactly how you wanted it as a child, so that every part of the inner-child in you is fulfilled.
Though the influences of this story are easy to distinguish, my process is harder to explain. I don’t have a clear-cut path when I create a book. I do both the writing and the sketching at the same time. However, what is consistent is that the seed of a story begins with a drawing that eventually blossoms into character development. From here, a few more sketches are made which make room for plot development. It is a back and forth movement between the graphic and the literary art, and somehow I end up with a book and illustrations in the end.
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Learn more about Laura Wilbourn and purchase Asterion's Elixir on her website. Follow her on Facebook.