On this single tree, which flowers once a year, you find the smokey-softness of the flower and the stoic-solidity of the leaves and limbs.
After the flower is gone and the tree is simply leaf and limb again you might walk right past it and never notice it.
In writing it is important to show what characters have in common.
It is also vital to show what sets them apart.
There are times I have endeavored to create prose with the lushness of a summer garden but more and more I am drawn to less and less clutter in my narrative. Most of us barely notice this very common bird. And yet look at it when the eye and mind are not distracted…behold the miracle of the lowly sparrow.
Most of my books come from my local bookstores,
both used and new,
Some come from the library,
particularly when I’m just beginning my research.
And some come from independent bookshops selling rare and out of print titles over the internet.
I researched potato farming for a few months before writing the text for SPUDS. But the illustrations required more than book research. Wendy knew she had to experience the setting first-hand. So the two of us drove to Northern Maine. Our intention was to scout around, take photographs, and come home with a pictorial archive from which Wendy could “draw”.
But the very first morning in Presque Isle we met a gentle couple at breakfast, told them our reason for being in town, and before we knew it we’d been invited to come with them to the Kenney’s potato farm.
What a rich experience we had in Aroostook county with the Kings and the Kenneys graciously educating us about the hard and rewarding work of potato farming.
While researching in the early 1900s Brooklyn Daily Eagle I came across an article about children living under the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge. The children referred to in the newspaper lived in poverty, with little adult supervision, but they weren’t homeless.
It was my imagination that made the leap from these real children profiled in the paper to the fictional, marginalized children you meet in the interstices of BROOKLYN BRIDGE.
There are as many ways to create character as there are characters to create.
Many times when we’re out in public, we see someone, at a concert, for instance,
or in a restaurant, or a park
and we begin to invent a reality for that person in our imagination.
This young woman had a face that could launch a thousand tales.
Yes, there is an actual medal.
It comes in a beautifully crafted wooden box lined with deep blue velvet. The medal itself nestles inside a perfect indent of a circle made to fit the medal exactly. A matching deep blue grosgrain ribbon makes it possible to easily remove the medal from its circular housing. One side of the medal shows a man (presumably John Newbery himself) presenting a book to two children. The other side is an open book on which is inscribed:
FOR THE MOST DISTINGUISHED CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN LITERATURE FOR CHILDREN
KAREN HESSE 1998
On the same side, written around the perimeter of the medal:
JOHN NEWBERY MEDAL AWARDED ANNUALLY BY THE CHILDREN’S LIBRARIANS SECTION OF THE AMERICAN LIBRARY ASSOCIATION
I keep the medal in the attic where I work.
if you feel as if you’re dragging yourself to your desk each morning,
try changing your point of view.
Perhaps the family dog might have a better perspective.
And a series of photographs
becomes a visual poem.
To make a character memorable, the writer must show her from all sides and place her in revealing settings. Readers want to know the texture of her hair, want to smell rain on her skin, want to feel the weight of her clothes and how they drape her frame.
If we see her only front-on and in full light, we will never truly see her at all.