One Year, One Book
December 30, 2011
As 2011 comes to a close, I am reflecting on what an eventful year this has been. Though I split my work between Florida and Massachusetts, I still managed to travel quite a bit and experience some unforgettable moments. Here are some favs:
The year started out with the announcement that The Search for WondLa was Al Roker’s Book Club pick for the Today show. Though I wouldn’t be on the air for the segment until March, I was giddy with excitement. This was a great validation for me right as I returned to Orbona to pen the second book of the WondLa trilogy.
To me, the sophomore book is the make-or-break for a series. As a reader, I now know the world that the characters inhabit when I crack open the second installment, so I don’t need everything explained to me. Instead, I want the plot to become more tangled with troubles and the stakes to become significantly higher. I want to know who the true antagonist is and sense a premonition of where the story is heading…at least, that was my thinking when I sat down at the computer in January and typed away on Hero for WondLa.
To me, nobody did a second-book-in-a-trilogy better than J. R. R. Tolkien. In March, I reported on a lesser-known story from back in 1967 when there was the possibility that Maurice Sendak would illustrate Tolkien’s classic, The Hobbit. In my sleuthing, I located the whereabouts of one of Sendak’s sample Hobbit pieces and shared the story in the LA Times (with much help from Geoff Boucher and Gregory Maguire).
My diversions remained brief throughout the year, as I had to keep Hero for WondLa my main focus. However, I did receive fantastic news that I had been named as a Global Ambassador for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Starlight is a charity very near and dear to my heart, as Angela and I have spent our share of time in pediatric hospitals when our daughter, Sophia, was younger. No child should be denied the opportunity to read the latest book or attend an author event, so I am honored to bring both to readers staying in hospitals across the US and UK.
Speaking of the UK, I enjoyed a wondlaful tour at my home away from home this fall as I promoted the release of both The Spiderwick Chronicles and Search for WondLa in paperback. I was joined by friends like Sarah Bolger and Chris Riddell, making this particular tour very special for me.
I returned home from tour in October and switched hats from author to illustrator. I spent the fall sketching up the interior illustrations for Hero and pushing myself to render things that don’t come naturally to me (like architecture and machinery). Thankfully, I had inspiration from past masters, like Giovanni Piranesi, who had also been an inspiration for the architecture in Planescape.
Once the sketches were completed, I began inking (seen below). The detail in the inks far exceeds what I did in the first WondLa book (click for higher-res image).
With help from digital-artist-dynamo, David White, flatting in the basic color fields for me, I am now finishing the images for Hero. The book will be completed to go to press at the beginning of February for its May release.
It took me a solid year to write and illustrate this novel. It was an intense year of self-discipline and pushing myself to see what I was capable of. But it was a gratifying year to know that I was able to create something completely drawn from my own imagination. I thank you all for supporting me and allowing me the opportunity to dream big. I hope the you find this one is worth the wait.
All my best to you in the coming year. Its going to be an exciting one!
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