Monday, July 13, 2009

Behind the scenes of Dotty with Julia Denos and Erica Perl

The Making of Dotty by Erica S. Perl illustrated by Julia Denos
Part 1

Here is the origin story on DOTTY by Erica Perl, author:

EP: When I was a kid, I had imaginary friends. I told my parents that two of them were twins but were not the same age (which they found funny, though I didn't understand why for years) and their names were Sahti and Dahti. I was probably about three or four at the time, which I know because we moved to Rhode Island when I was four and these memories predate the move. I also had an imaginary pet (a sheep) when we lived in Vermont, where we didn't move until I turned eight. But by then I was pretty sure that I'd get teased if anyone found out about my imaginary sheep, so I didn't tell anyone. I think the initial idea for DOTTY came out of both of these experiences: having an imaginary friend that interested and amused others, as was the case with Sahti and Dahti, and having an imaginary friend that might be a source of ridicule. And, of course, the name "Dotty" came from "Dahti."

On writing the manuscript:

EP: When I first wrote the story, I relied on this memory I have of overhearing a girl gossiping about me to a friend and the friend replying, "Who's Erica?" And then the first girl pointed me out by saying, "Hey, ERICA, I like your sweater." But when I went to storyboard out the book, I was surprised by the intensity of Ida's —and Dotty's —reaction. This sometimes happens when I write a piece… it is much neater in word form, but if I start sketching and drawing, ideas flow and things happen. It's why I always encourage writing students to draw, even if they don't want to be illustrators. Sometimes you don't know what you want to say with words until you get an image.

Erica Perl on the evolution of Dotty:

EP: When my draft of the manuscript was finished—long before Julia was selected as the illustrator—I started reading the story aloud as part of my author visit presentations. I'd ask the kids to raise their hands and tell me what kind of animal Dotty was. And the kids would tell me: she's a bull! she's a goat! she's a giant guinea pig! So I realized for the first time that maybe Dotty was an animal unto herself . . . or a one-of-a-kind combination of many kinds of animals.

On selecting Julia Denos:

CW: It was actually kind of hard. Erica Perl ( author) remembers talking with Susan Van Metre and telling her here ideas and hearing hers. We were on the same page, both of us wanting someone who could capture the whimsical qualities of the piece without making it overly sentimental or losing the humor and range of emotions. Julia Denos was my pick among other. On a rare occasion do i find and illustrator from a mailer. Yet this is how I cam across Julia. Erica recalls checking out her online portfolio (after I sent here Julia site to review ) and thinking "YES! Oh please let us get HER!"

FOLLOW Julia at here Blog

You might remember Julia Denos's work from Tim McGraw's picture book My Little Girl.

So we begin. Julia and I worked out a time table for sketches and final art as well as other contractual items.

Here are Julia's first sketches

Video Chatting over sketches.

"During Choice Time, Ida found out there were even more in her class. Pete and Repeat came to school with Max. They were twins, but not the identical kind.
Kay was Benny’s. She had razor-sharp teeth, but Benny swore she would never really hurt anyone. Beeku was tiny. She swung back and forth on Katya’s braids, chattering all day long.
And there was Dotty. Who kept mostly to herself, nibbling the rug. "

First round character and layout sketches

Ida Brunnette . . .

or Ida Blonde?

DOTTY character sketches

She started out as a gremlin on a leash
and slow began to look more like a buffalo
then more cow like

Other Imaginary friends

Page layouts
Final Dotty Character Sketch


Annie Patterson said...

What fun to read this and see Julia's sketches. I'm a big fan of hers and can not wait to get this book! Thanks for posting!

Chad W. Beckerman said...

Hi Annie,
I plan on more Dotty posts as the book progresses. The book isn't due out until Fall 2010. I know that seems like forever. Be sure to 'FOLLOW' my blog for more updates


Carla said...

Hi, C.W.

I, too, can't wait for the finished book....Sounds like a great read so I'm definitely following!


Teresa Kravtin said...

It's a WONDERFUL book. Take my word for it! :D