The talented Kevan Atteberry, author-illustrator extraordinaire, is joining us today to talk about the evolution of Declan, the exuberant monster in his new picture book, Bunnies!!!
MG: Who came first, Declan, or the bunnies?
KA: The original Declan was not the Declan that lives in the book. For the past few Octobers I’ve challenged myself to create a monster a day for the whole month and post them on Facebook. Completely from scratch. On October 20, 2012, I drew this monster:
KA: I am pretty certain I drew the monster first. But the bunnies were an immediate addition. The comments I got on this monster were split between those who thought the monster was going to eat the bunnies and those who thought the monster was smitten with them. This intrigued me.
MG: In relation to that, did the images come first, or the storyline, or was it a more back and forth process?
KA: The image came first. On October 20, 2012. In November 2012, during Picture Book Idea Month (PiBoIdMo), I came up with an idea for a story about that monster. And in December 2012, I was going through my PiBOIDMo entries and landed on that particular idea. I wrote the story in one day. Then I thumbnailed the story the next day. I had the first dummy a day or two after that.
MG: How did Declan first appear to you? How do the first sketches compare with the Declan in Bunnies!!!? How would you describe his evolutionary process?
KA: This first Declan (though he wasn’t Declan at that point) was the one above. When I started the thumbnails and the dummy, Declan took a different proportionate appearance than what had inspired him. Here are some looks at him from thumbs to sketch to dummy stage and finally where we ended up.
KA: You can see in this comparison where we kind of started from and ended up. The publisher felt we should replace the pointy tail with a puffy tail, soften the horns and teeth, lose the hollow eyes and lips. Though I like both versions, I completely trust my editor and art director in giving Declan his new look.
MG: This is your author-illustrator debut. How would you compare/contrast the creative process between making your own book, rather than working as the illustrator of someone else’s story?
KA: I’ve never felt a sense of ownership on books I’ve illustrated for other people. I like them and am proud of them but in the end, they are the authors’ books and I just feel lucky to have been the one to illustrate them. Because of that, I never felt compelled to initiate marketing for them. Or to arrange signings. Though I always participated with enthusiasm when asked. Now, having penned my next book (as well as illustrated it) I am completely behind it! I want to do everything I possibly can to push it, promote it, make the world aware of it. I will be having my very first book launch next week and I am thrilled about it!
MG: Declan’s joy is contagious! Where does that come from? Was he inspired by anyone, or anything in particular?
KA: Declan has a toddler’s sensibility. His excitability and his sorrow are both exaggerated. And he can swing between the two quickly. Simple pleasures.
MG: Do you have more adventures planned for Declan and his bunny friends?
KA: I am working on a follow up book with Declan and the Bunnies. It will be out next year. The title is Puddles. You can probably guess what gets Declan’s motor running for this book.
This week Kevan will give away TWO signed copies of Bunnies!!! For a chance to win, please leave a comment on this post, or any other this week!
Maria is obsessed with—you guessed it—DOGGIES!!! Especially her beloved Dixie Chick, Becca. Isn’t she a beauty?
Maria’s debut picture book, Penny & Jelly: The School Show, illustrated by Thyra Heder will be published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in July 2015, with a second Penny & Jelly book to follow in Spring 2016. Maria has both fiction and nonfiction picture books forthcoming from Roaring Brook Press, Aladdin Books and Boyds Mills Press. She is represented by Ammi-Joan Paquette of Erin Murphy Literary. To learn more, please visit her website: mariagianferrari.com, or visit Maria at Facebook.
Photo of Becca by Monogram Arts Photo.