March 2001 Hedge a Gram

I've been working on the manuscript for my next book to be published in the Fall of 2002. The book for this fall, Christmas Treasury, is on its way to the printer and Daisy Comes Home, my book set in China, is all finished. It will be published in the Spring of 2002. I'm working on a retelling of a Norwegian folk tale. It took many days and about six drafts before it was ready to send to my editor Margaret.

Writing has always been the biggest challenge for me. Although there are times when I'm illustrating that it's frustrating, I always feel like I'm in my element. But when I'm writing a story, I have to stop and take a break - go for a run or take a nap so I can see it with fresh eyes. If you are a young person, and you are writing a story, be strong when you hit a road block. Take a break and try again, finally the pieces will fall into place.

Right now, I'm doing sketches of trolls. I want them to be odd looking, but not terrifying. Their clothes should look hundreds of years old, which means I will research medieval Norwegian costumes. I've heard that trolls are skilled miners and silver-smiths, so I'll look at ancient designs for the ornaments they'll wear.

I'm making the hard decision about if I should give some of the trolls more that one head. Many-headed trolls are traditional, but I'm still not sure. What do you think? I will definitely put tails on them. I think that's very endearing.

Luckily, when I visited Norway, I bought lots of books at the folk museum. I also have a Norwegian-English dictionary which will be handy since some of the books are only in Norwegian! I'm not of Norwegian ancestry, but when I look at Norwegian folk art or step on Norwegian soil, my imagination starts to spin.

So here's a question for you if you are a young writer or illustrator -- do you have a special place in the world that fascinates you? I love to hear about what it is.

This month I'm speaking to many newspapers about my book tour this spring. I'll be visiting Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Michigan, and Wisconsin. You can find the link to all of the cities where I'll visit on my Home Page. If you live nearby, I hope that you can come. I'd love to meet you.

Also, if you've ever wanted an original poster, now's the time. I've created a special design with artwork from Hedgie's Surprise. I'm sending it to everyone who enters the benefit raffle for Thayer Academy this coming May. The Grand Prize is a visit to the school or library of your choice. There are lots of other prizes including original artwork from Gingerbread Baby and Hedgie's Surprise. The number of entries won't be all that huge so you have a good chance of winning. I love the poster -- it's perfect for Spring and a great gift or a thank you for a teacher.

Good luck with your writing and illustrating, I hope you try drawing trolls, they're lots of fun.

Bye for now,

Your friend,

Jan Brett