"Three Heads Are Better Than One: An Author, an Editor and an Illustrator Collaborate Together" by Kate Narita
I know, I know. The idiom is “two heads are better than one,” not “three heads are better than one.” But in this case, I cannot imagine 100 Bugs! A Counting Book existing without the editor, Janine O’Malley or the illustrator, Suzanne Kaufman. If you read this blog post https://epiceighteen.weebly.com/blog/100-bugs-a-counting-book-from-manuscript-to-book-by-kate-narita you can read about how the manuscript morphed into 100 Bugs! over time as a result of collaborating with Janine and Suzanne. Today, I’m going to highlight aspects of our collaboration that I didn’t cover in the Manuscript to Book post.
First off, I want to credit Janine O’Malley for finding Suzanne Kaufman. In case you don’t know, most authors don’t pick the illustrator, the editors do. When Janine emailed me Suzanne’s rendition of the candy-striped leafhopper, I couldn’t believe my luck. Suzanne’s vibrant, detailed rendition of the leafhopper was more beautiful and accurate than I could have ever imagined. Janine continued to make superb decisions that created the best book possible. If you want to read about how Janine changed the beginning and the end of the book as well as how the Macmillan team chose the book’s title, please refer to the post above.
My excitement didn’t stop with seeing Suzanne’s artwork though. It continued because she reached out to me through social media which is unusual. Many authors don’t have any contact with the illustrator of the book. One of the changes that occurred as a result of this contact, which I didn’t mention in the previous blogpost, was the type of bugbane featured in 100 Bugs! Originally, I had included a bugbane with green leaves Actaea americana, but Suzanne wanted to feature Actaea simplex because the purplish leaves complemented the other colors in the composition.
The best part of collaborating with Suzanne was having the opportunity to meet her last summer when my family traveled out to Seattle. The four of us met Suzanne for lunch, and she showed me her sketchbook for 100 Bugs! which was amazing. Then, she gave me an amazing gift—original artwork featuring the characters in the book.
Collaboration creates a stronger piece of art and presents the possibility of life-changing relationships. So get out there, collaborate and create. It will change your life.
100 BUGS! A COUNTING BOOK by Kate Narita illustrated by Suzanne Kaufman
Farrar Straus Giroux June 12, 2018
Available everywhere books are sold.
As a picture book author, I write words that eventually will be paired with illustrations, creating a whole book. Since I’m not an illustrator, my vision is only one part of the finished process. A certain amount of trust is required to believe that the publisher, editor, and/or art director will create an extraordinary partnership between author and illustrator. With the debut of SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH, I couldn’t be happier collaborating with my incredible illustrator, Sandie Sonke (www.SandieSonkeIllustration.com), under the expert guidance of our editor and art director, Mira Reisberg, and our publisher, Callie Metler-Smith.
While learning the craft of writing for children, I had always practiced the idea of leaving room for the illustrator. When I saw the illustrations and text of SCARLET together for the first time, I truly understood what that meant. During the editing process after I saw the illustrations, I streamlined the text by cutting words that weren’t necessary. My text became tighter in response to the images I saw appearing next to the words. For example, in an early draft, I had included the line, “Tears ran down her cheeks.” But since Sandie showed emotion in her illustration, this line was redundant. As the collaborative dance continued, the story grew stronger. And my ideas plus Sandie’s concepts turned into one creative vision.
It’s amazing to see the artwork of my debut picture book. The book was inspired by the thought of a girl with a magic paintbrush. I didn’t know what that girl would look like and of course I couldn’t have contemplated all the lovely details that Sandie has included in her work. The finished book is a true melding of art and text, producing a seamless and cohesive whole. I hope that children who read this story will enjoy the themes of creativity and escaping perfectionism. And of course I hope they love the magic that emanates from each word and illustration!
Thanks for reading about my picture book process. Good luck with all your creative collaborations!
SCARLET’S MAGIC PAINTBRUSH
by Melissa Stoller, illustrated by Sandie Sonke
Clear Fork Publishing, August 2018
Available for pre-order at https://www.clearforkpublishing.com/store/p66/ScarletMagicPaintbrush.