I first met Amy through the PiBoIdMo (Picture Book Idea Month) community. Although she lives across the country I felt a certain kinship based on a few of our passions: writing and running. I was especially excited to learn that her debut picture book (releasing tomorrow!) was about a little determined mouse named Preston who sets out to run the NYC Marathon! Needless to say, Preston has been a source of inspiration for me these last few months as I set out to complete the same goal.
So, run...don't walk to purchase MARATHON MOUSE written by Amy Dixon, illustrated by Sam Denlinger and published by Sky Pony Press.
Please welcome a new member of the PUBLISHED Picture Book author community, Amy Dixon! And a huge congratulations to you, my friend!
In the picture book writing community, I've often been a part of conversations that include some form of this comment:
"Wouldn't it be soooo much easier if we were just writers AND illustrators? Then we could make our manuscripts look exactly the way we want!"
And in theory, it feels like it could be easier.No stressing over whether or not to include an art note.
Word count worries would disappear.And snagging an agent would be a snap, right?
Would it actually be easier for us? I suppose, if you don't include that pesky learning to be an illustrator stuff.But what if we are actually asking the wrong question? What if the question isn't, "What would be easier?" but instead, "What would make my picture book better?"
Because here's the thing. From the moment you hear your illustrator’s name, to the moment you see the art for the first time, you will be filled with gray-hair-and-deep-wrinkle-line-producing worry. It’s true, being a picture book writer might well mean embracing Golden Girls status well before your time. It is NOT easy.BUT.
When we bring two artistic minds together, we've just DOUBLED our creative possibilities. There are ideas brought to the page by our illustrators that we likely would have never come up with on our own. We all have backgrounds and perspectives and worldviews that, even for creative thinkers, are limited. But now, because we've allowed our work to be expanded upon by another creative force, we've increased the depth and even the reach of our story.One example from Marathon Mouse has to do with a secondary character in the story. It is a book primarily about a mouse family, but near the end, a little girl makes an appearance.
Now, I have three little girls myself, who (in my totally unbiased opinion) are the cutest things ever, so of course I had pictured someone who looked a little like them. Chubby cheeks, fair skin, big blue eyes...sort of a Gerber-esque quality. So when I saw the art for the first time, I registered a delighted surprise when I got to this image:Isn't she pretty much the cutest thing ever? I am seriously, madly in love with her.
Is she something that I would have come up with myself? Probably not.Is she the perfect representation of the little girl I wrote in the story? Absolutely.
So, while handing our words over and releasing creative control of our “babies,” might send us running to stock up on Clairol, it can and most often does, make our picture books BETTER. And hopefully, as we travel down the road (and back again) of picture book writing, we will have collaborated to create books whose depth and reach we could have never imagined.Amy Dixon grew up as one of seven siblings, so the only peace and quiet she ever got was inside a book. Once she had her own kids, she rediscovered her love for picture books at the public library. It was the one place she knew all four of her kids would be happy . . . and quiet. She writes from her home, where she lives with her four little inspirations and her marathon-running husband, Rob.