This week it’s our great pleasure to introduce you to Footer Davis
Might Be Probably Is Crazy. It’s funny, it’s got heart and it has characters that feel so real that if I met them at the grocery store, I’d just think, “Huh, there’s Footer and Peavine” and wave. To introduce this fabulous book, we have an interview with author Susan Vaught.
One of the things that I loved about Footer Davis
Might Be Probably Is Crazy is that there’s a strong visual component. In between the narration, we see copies of Footer’s homework, some of her drawings, interviews from her friend Peavine’s notebook, Footer’s lists, photos, emails, all kinds of stuff. All of which is really fun. Is this how you imagined the book from the start? Or is this something that developed as you went along?
Susan: This was how the book started! Before I had any other piece of the story, I made the drawing of the doodelbug and that homework sheet involving how Bugtussle–the town in the story–got its name. Footer’s voice came to me as I worked through that, a strong, funny girl who wanted to draw, loved to draw, really really STUNK at making art, but insisted on doing it anyway! After that, I just drew out or photographed or created any little bit of the story that Footer would want illustrated. Perhaps the funniest moment came when I decided to make a photo of the mysterious shoe in the woods, and I swiped my son’s tennis shoe for the picture. I can still remember his confused, worried voice following me out the door: “Mom, that’s my shoe. Hey, Mom, where are you taking my shoe? Have you lost your mind? Moooo-ooommm . . . !”
Was the title of this book always Footer Davis
Might Be Probably Is Crazy? If not, whose idea was that very funny title? And who is responsible for this fabulous cover design?
Susan: I never get keep my original titles, so no. My lame initial title was, The Bugtussle Chronicles: Serial Killers Don’t Wear Plaid. I’ll have to give my brilliant editor, Sylvie Frank, credit for the very funny and much better version. The cover design belongs to John Hendrix. I loved it the moment I saw it!
Now, the book’s quirky inner art and sketches–the things Footer draws herself–were done by Jennifer Reinhardt, who was given the impossible task of drawing like an 11 year-old who can’t draw! 🙂
Something that I love about this book is the wholeness of the characters. Too often, when I’m reading a book that deals with difficult issues, I feel like the characters can become these cardboard cutouts, kind of role players who are just there so that the author can educate me on something they apparently feel I need to be educated about. It makes me a little cranky, because I suddenly start feeling like I’m reading a pamphlet in a doctor’s office instead of a story. And I signed up for a story.
Might Be Probably Is Crazy deals with all sorts of difficult things. It’s also hilarious. And the characters felt like real human beings to me. It’s life—funny, sad, happy, scary, everything all jumbled together and we’re watching the characters try to make sense of it. Since most of the people who read this blog are writers, I wonder if you could talk briefly about how you go about creating these kinds of characters.
Susan: The first component in the realness of my characters is that many of them carry some bit of my own experience, or the experiences of people I’ve worked with over decades of being a mental health professional. “Write what you know” rings true to me in this respect, that knowing many family members and other people who have bravely faced struggles and kept right on living beautiful lives, gives me many ideas, and lends a touch of reality to characters in my story. The second and even larger component of writing characters, for me, is voice. I have to have the voice of a particular character to move forward, and I tend to write in first person, which allows me the reality of that character, and how that character perceives his/her world. That has benefits and drawbacks, for sure, but for me, it allows the character to have a life of their own as I’m working through the writing.
We’ll be celebrating Footer Davis
Might Be Probably Is Crazy all week on Emu’s Debuts. To enter the drawing to win a free copy, please comment on any post this week.