Friday, December 21, 2012


Lee Carlson, a colleague from my days writing for Skiing magazine, sent me this questionnaire. It's been traveling from author blog to author blog. What is the working title of your book? I have several books in various states of completion. Picture books, novels, stories that want to turn into novels, a novelette I'm adapting for the screen. Since this is a blog about my art, here are the picture books and illustrated books: MR. PONSONBY'S WAY WITH MICE and other stories; THE TERRIBLE TRUTH ABOUT GROWN-UPS; A CAR TRIP; BAD HAIR DAY; A NOSE IS A NOSE; NOTHING EVER HAPPENS AT THE BELVEDERE. There are others which I haven't worked on in a while. I have a lot of drawers full of material. Where did the idea come from for the book? Where do all ideas come from? Thin air. Actually, several of my picture book stories and my ghost stories began as stories I told to Madeline at bedtime. It's been a while since I've told her stories. What genre do(es) your book(s) fall under? Travel. Fable. Adventure. Comedy. Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? For my screenplay of the story, THE LAST ADVENTURE OF THE BLUE PHANTOM (published in McSweeneys24), I picture either Forest Whitaker or Denzel Washington. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? The titles usually tell what it's about. Or, as in the case of Belvedere, it's ironic and opposite to what happens. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I have direct relationships with art directors and a few editors, but it's important to have an agent for books. Marly Rusoff sold my first book, A BOOK OF AGES, but I am represented by Sterling Lord for children's books. How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I write very quickly or very slowly. Stories are quick. Novels take forever. I've not finished a novel yet. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? My prose influences are Raymond Chandler, Roald Dahl, M. R. James, Evelyn Waugh. Who or What inspired you to write this book? I put a character into a situation and try to write them out of it. I think of a place or a time or a mood or a predicament first. What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? Since books are such a speculative venture it's probably better to put people onto the book I have in print than the ones that may never get there. The best way to do that is to visit the website for A BOOK OF AGES––AN ECCENTRIC MISCELLANY OF GREAT AND OFFBEAT MOMENTS IN THE LIVES OF THE FAMOUS AND INFAMOUS, AGES 1 TO 100 (RANDOM HOUSE, 2008). It's a funny, surprising, fascinating, conversation-starting collection of stories from famous lives, arranged by year of age. (A perfect gift.)

Elves, Christmas Lights, Snow

I did this Christmas card for the Dutch design firm GBE and my friend Fritiof Eriksson. This idea just popped into my head. You never know where they come from. Merry Christmas.