Happy October,

     This is Jan Brett, and I?d like to say a few words about what's going on in my life as a children's author and illustrator.
     I have about a month to work on my new book, MOSSY before going out on the book tour, and I'm looking forward to a stretch of time where I can devote a lot of time to it. When I'm working on the finishes, I'll continue doing a little research on the side, but it's mostly putting a lot of hours in painting. I created a fairly elaborate book dummy this time. If you could see it, it's loose cartoon like drawings done with rapidiograph (a kind of mechanical ink pen) and watercolors on typing paper. It's a about 1/2 the size the final pages will be, but in the same proportions as the published book. Tomorrow I'll bring the first 17 pages to NY city to show to my editor, the art director and designer. It's always disconcerting because there are already things I plan to improve, but I'm possessive about my work. This is probably because the best work comes from way back in my sub-conscience, and when a lot of people add their opinions it's hard to hear my own voice. This is not to say that sometimes others are right. The publisher works far ahead of the publishing date, and they present a brief visual version to book buyers early on. That means I do a few pages in the beginning of the story, some in the middle and several at the end. It's not the ideal way to work, but if I had completed more of the book earlier it would be different.
        I love wild flowers , and since Mossy takes place in the spring I've been sticking to the wild flowers the bloom at that time. But one of the last pages pictures Mossy, her mate Scute, and their little babies and I realized I could time it anytime that turtles are not in hibernation. I've been gathering the flowers that grow in early October including one of my favorites new England purple aster, and goldenrod. I was surprised to see their are over 25 varieties of goldenrod.  I may be asked to work on the jacket next, but after that I'll be working on the pages showing people in their 1913 time period clothes, which should be fun, since I m interested in costume.
       Joe and I are planning two trips for future books. It's hard to take the focus off the book I'm currently fascinated by. Were going to India in February, birding in the interior of India in a wildlife park, where there are tigers. I have a book in mind but it is not set in stone. In June I'm going to Sweden and Russia. The focus will be Saint Petersburg. My editor Margaret and I share a fondness for chickens, especially the colorful varieties and their humanlike personality traits. Margaret threw out what fun a Chicken Cinderella would be. When we looked at planning our Russian trip the travel people and guidebooks kept pointing us toward opulent mansions and palaces, so I'm exploring the possibility of setting a chicken Cinderella there. I have always loved the tale of the Snow Queen, and I might get a chance to illustrate a fairy tale set in winter if I set a chicken Cinderella in the Russian wintertime. I'm also getting ideas for another future book, the folktale, The Turnip. For that book I will visit a farm and a Dacha to start imagining a setting as well as seeing authentic farm equipment, typical buildings and Russian farm animals. I have a friend who bred Russian orloff poultry, but I have in mind the beautiful Phoenix rooster, for the handsome prince in Cinderella, and one of my elegant polish pullets for Cinderella.
      Once a child asked me what the hardest part of my job is. One of the hardest parts is not having more time to work on my books ideas!  I have three book ideas in the back of my mind work to work on when I?m driving in the car, running, or when I?m getting ready to fall asleep.  They are almost like the big jigsaw puzzle people set up on the table, to be worked on in spurts.  You might find that keeping a ?mental notebook? about a creative project a good way to make use of all your creative energy, with pieces ready when you sit down with a couple of hours of solitude.
     Good luck and happy reading,

                                  Jan Brett