A highlight from the Brooklyn Book Festival’s Panel, Greek Gods, Other Worlds and Natural Disasters, was, naturally, each author revealing their “origin” stories.
Kazu Kibuishi – best known for his Amulet series, but also worthy of note, chosen to create the 15th Anniversary Harry Potter covers (VERY exciting in my book!)- followed a kind of process of elimination. He studied film in school, but came to feel that he loved movies too much to be behind the camera. In fact, he took a job on Wall Street to help support his family for “as long as he could take it.” He continued to draw every day, for at least an hour, so he was never out of practice. He admitted that he didn’t love graphic novels, unlike film, but realized they were something he could create. Incidentally, he also admitted to really struggling with World-Building: which is why Amulet, Vol. 1: The Stonekeeper (Amulet, #1) was “basically set in a cave” and the characters come to slowly experience the larger world as he learned to create it.
George O’Connor– best known for the Olympians- used to hate school and only wanted to draw monsters, muscle men, and pretty ladies. Then his elementary school had a curriculum about Greek mythology and changed his perspective. Monsters AND muscle men AND pretty ladies? IN school. Maybe it wasn’t so bad after all! And now, here is today, making good on his third grade dream! Whenever he writes, not surprisingly, he writes for that childhood version of himself, whatever that kid would like.
Lauren Tarshis– best known for the I Survived series- had a great story, that started out with failure. She wrote book that was “too awful to mention” and had given up. In the meantime, her young sons were obsessed with basketball- and completely horrible at it. That did not stop them, though. They had a Michael Jordan video they watched everyday to get pumped- then rushed out to suck some more at the game they loved. Funny thing- eventually, they stopped sucking- they even got pretty good. So she decided to give it another go, put together a “Michael Jordan reading list” of the authors that inspired her, and buckled back down. And still started out horrible, and still kept practicing, and eventually… got to be on stage at the Brooklyn Book Festival!
And, although I did not see her speak, per se, I have to give a shout out here to Emily Hughes. She painstakingly personalized copies of Wild and The Little Gardener with illustrations of whichever character the reader requested. There she is, patiently toiling away, inspiring my daughter to take up the pen!