Today I'm sharing one of my favorite new stories by my friend, Nathaniel Lachenmeyer. In the short time I've known Nathaniel, I've been so impressed by his writing - I think he's somebody we're going to hear BIG things from for a long, long time. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is his most recent picture book...
Q. THE ORIGAMI MASTER reads like a classic Japanese tale, and yet I'm pretty sure it's wholly original, yes? Can you tell us a bit about the book and how it came to be?
A. The story is original. I love folk tales, and enjoyed the challenge of writing something that would have the feel of a folk tale, but not be derivative. Beginning a couple of years ago my son and I started doing origami together. We have always had fun, whether we succeeded in creating something recognizable or not! Inspired by that, I decided to write a picture book that would encourage children to try origami. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is the result. The book has an origami bird design at the back for children to try. It's been a lot of fun doing origami with groups of kids at readings.
Q. As an illustrator, I have to point out that your illustrator, Aki Sogabe, used cut paper to create the illustrations for this book - especially fitting considering the subject matter. What was your reaction when you first saw the art?
A. I was absolutely thrilled with Aki's art from the moment I saw it. It was an inspiration on the part of my editor to ask her to do the book. Not every picture book is a perfect marriage of story and art. I really think THE ORIGAMI MASTER is. I am so happy with how the book has turned out.
Q. THE ORIGAMI MASTER has received some wonderful praise - can you share some of the kudos?
A. THE ORIGAMI MASTER is a Junior Library Guild Selection and an ALA Book LInks Lasting Connection. It is also a Children's Indie Next Pick.
Q. You are an incredibly gifted and prolific writer - can you tell us what else you have in the pipeline?
A. Can you repeat the first part of that question again? :) I have five forthcoming picture books: A HAUNTED PICTURE BOOK, a Halloween story about a haunted picture book that may or may not be A Haunted Picture Book; EUREKA!, a comic story about a young inventor and his nemesis; SCARLATTI'S CAT, the mostly true story of classical composer Domenico Scarlatti's composing cat; DRIFTWOOD DAYS, a lyrical nature study; WHAT THE WIND AND THE RAIN TOLD TOM, a biography of the 19th century African-American musical prodigy Blind Tom.
Q. With so much going on, I'm sure my readers would love a peek into your method. Can you share how you typically work?
A. The way I work varies from book to book. But I often start by picking a subject that interests me. Then, I read as much as I can about it, always with an eye toward creating an interesting and original story that will appeal to kids and their parents. From there, I hammer out different ways of approaching the narrative until I find the one that works best. In terms of the actual writing, I write many, many successive drafts, usually over a short period of time. Then, I take a break and look at what I have. Sometimes, I make more changes. Sometimes, I scrap what I've written and start over. I always write my picture books as picture books, with structure, page breaks, and illustrations in mind.
Q. And finally, do you have any advice to share, maybe words of wisdom (or books) that had a special impact on your development as a writer?
A. What I have found most helpful and rewarding is reading other picture books. Reading other picture books has taught me a lot about the potential of the medium. It also reminds me that the books I am writing are part of a broader tradition. I usually take 30-40 picture books out of the library at a time. If I find a book I like, I request other books from that author or author-illustrator. I read old books, new books, and everything in between. The best ones I share with my kids. (I have a list of some of the ones I have especially enjoyed on my web site: http://www.nathaniellachenmeyer.com/RecommendedReading.html.)
Congratulations on all your success and I look forward to your next release!
Thanks! It's always exciting to see how a book will turn out!