Intoducing Barry B Wary by Leslie Muir!
Sometimes even when you've broken into the tough world of publishing, it can still be an uphill climb to publication. My friend Leslie Muir is proof of that. She sold THREE picture book manuscripts several years ago, and has had to wait over THREE years to see them finally released. Well, I am excited to introduce you to the first - BARRY B. WARY!
Q. Leslie, This has been a long wait for your first book, BARRY B. WARY. Congratulations! Can you tell my readers a bit about your path to publishing?
A. Thanks, e! My path to publication wasn’t so very long in the big scheme of things. I’d been jotting down stories forever, but in early 2006 I started submitting my work in earnest. My first story was accepted two years later. But then I endured an additional three and a half years of thumb twiddling, hum-dee-dumming, and wondering if I’d ever hold a bona fide book in my hands. At this time I have four books under contract—and three of them come out this year! So I went from years of dead air to kaboom! Such a strange business. All that said, I know folks who’ve waited A LOT longer.
Q. BARRY B. WARY is such a cute story, what was the inspiration behind it?
A. I’m a big fan of dark humor in any medium, whether it’s art, fiction, or film. And dark humor definitely has a place in children’s literature. (Shel Silverstein, I love you). I adore characters that are a bit villainous, yet simultaneously likeable and vulnerable. And I think kids do too.
BARRY B. WARY is the story of a hirsute little spider who hankers for a friend, but tends to eat potential candidates (to his defense, he does so with culinary flair!). But he soon falls head-over-heels for a passing butterfly who, not surprisingly, is terrified of him. The rest of the book follows Barry as he struggles to kick his bug-eating ways and prove his love. A little tidbit: Prior to publication, I was asked to change the ending of BARRY to one, ahem, less sunny and keep my main character true to his nature. I won’t give away the ending, but I predict some “interesting” Amazon reader reviews.
Q. You wrote in rhyme, which can be so tricky. Does it come naturally to you or did you struggle with it?
A. I do have an ear for rhyme, but it’s always a labor of love. There are no shortcuts to doing it well. For me, the biggest challenge of writing picture books in rhyme is crafting an intriguing story while still being true to the constraints of the form. Writing perfectly executed rhyme does not necessarily yield a good tale. I’ve spent years toiling over a single story—and I have the bald patches to prove it.
Q. The illustrations by Carrie Gifford are so fresh - timeless and yet modern at the same time. What was your reaction when you saw the art for the first time?
A. Isn’t she amazing? Her style is totally hers, incredibly unique. Once you’ve seen her work, you’ll instantly recognize anything else she does. I love her painstakingly delicate lines and gorgeous little details (I’m still mooning over the end pages of the book. And the rose garden setting!). When I was shown the first images for BARRY B. WARY, I knew she was perfect. Carrie understood Barry, his dark nature and weird little quirks. She made him a tad creepy, yet sweetly comical and lovesick.
Q. Tell us about any book signings you have coming up for BARRY B. WARY.
A. Barry and I will be visiting some local primary and elementary schools as part of a summer reading event. I’ve also been asked to read at public library branches here in the area. As the book just came out yesterday, I hope to bolster my schedule over the upcoming months. You can check out my website for more updates: www.lesliemuir.com.
Thanks Leslie! Y'all go visit her!