The idea for THE MANY-COLORED INVISIBLE HATS OF BRENDA-LOUISE appeared long, long ago and far, far away, sparked by a friend whom I thought could express emotions as easily as one could don a hat. The completed rhyme stayed in a file for years.
Then, one day, at a meetup of the Fraser Valley Branch of the Federation of British Columbia Writers, I met up with author and artist, Loreena M. Lee, who showed a picture book that she had illustrated. I was intrigued. At home later, I visited her website gallery and was enchanted by a portrait she had painted, that of a little girl. I knew then that Loreena was the illustrator for my picture book.
I emailed the rhyme to Loreena and, when she expressed interest, we set up a meeting… and several more. At the first couple of get-togethers, we hammered out a contract; Loreena promised that she could have the work done in four months. With the contract out of the way, Loreena asked questions, telling me that she had to get into my head. Then, she did pencil drawings and awaited my approval before moving on. Sometimes we communicated by e-mail; often I visited. I think it took about ten meetings total.
A TIP FOR WRITERS: Collaborating with an Illustrator? Own your words, but be flexible.
EXAMPLE 1: Before the illustration was created, in order to facilitate the illustration, I changed “Each box is the shape of its very own hat” to “Some touch the ceiling while others lie flat.” EXAMPLE 2: After the illustration was created, because the illustrations were wonderfully specific, I changed “rubber hats for rain, straw hats for sun, and party hats for parties…” to “A sou’wester for rain, a straw hat for sun, a cone hat for parties…”
Near the end of the process, I walked into her home as usual one morning. In preparation for my arrival, Loreena had set out her original watercolor paintings on a love seat. The sight stopped me in my tracks.
Have you ever watched Extreme Home Makeover shows? If so, you’ll understand what I mean when I say this was a “Move that bus!” moment for me. Freeze-frame magic!
Loreena completed all the work prior to her four-month deadline. From there, I worked with another member of the Federation of BC Writers, Brian Rodda, who, when asked to design and format this book, said, ” I will do it with a song in my heart and a lilt in my step.” (Excellent price too, I must add.) And now, The Many-Colored Invisible Hats of Brenda-Louise is a reality.
Many thanks to Loreena M. Lee, to Brian Rodda, and, of course, to the original, one-and-only Brenda-Louise!
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My best to you,