Happy May and Happy May Day!
This is Jan Brett and this is my May Hedge a gram. My Hedge a gram is like an author's diary, that I put on my Internet site so future illustrators and writers will have an idea about what my job is like.
My work on Gingerbread Friends is well under way. I've written the story in long hand and my husband Joe typed it on the computer word processor. My editor, who works for Penguin Books for Young Readers in New York City has approved the idea for the book, and has read the first draft. She gave me some good ideas about what elements or parts of the story I should emphasize. Now, I'm working on the book dummy, which is a cartoon version of my book. It will be like the finished book because it will have 32 pages, but it will be in the form of story boards. I like the freedom of being able to change things around, and shape them at this stage. The challenge is to spend about three weeks on it. If I go too far with it, it will be harder to change. Sometimes I take out sections or add scenes. On the other hand, if I don't draw the pictures with my best efforts, the editor and art director will not have enough to go by.
One thing I have going for me is that my story is set in winter, in the snow. Just the time that baking cookies seems very welcoming. Since my main character is a cookie, I will do some baking myself. Some people like barbecuing, other people like fancy meals, or have a cuisine that is interesting to them. For me, I've always loved baking. When I was in high school, I loved baking bread. When my daughter was little, I took great pride in making all the bread we ate, whole wheat bread, raisin bread, English muffins, and a big favorite, cornmeal bread. Because I have a sweet tooth, cookies are fun to make, especially when they come in fanciful shapes and with decorations. Creating a main character that is a cookie takes the cake!
When I retold and illustrated The Gingerbread Baby in 1999, it ended with the cookie boy that came alive not being eaten, but being tempted into Mattie's hands with a gingerbread house just his size. At the end of the book I imagined that the Gingerbread Baby would be happy just so long. I knew that there was another adventure in store for him or maybe two!
Whatever you choose for your project, keep yourself open, my story kept morphing into different ideas. When this happens, it's almost like the story is writing itself. That's when I just hold on and go along for the ride. I wait and edit the story once it runs its course.
Good luck with your story ideas!