EXTRAORDINARY WARREN by Sarah Dillard - GIVEAWAY!
Not only have Sarah Dillard and I been roomies at the Kindling Words Conference in Vermont several times, I'm also a huge fan of her work. She read a portion of her latest creation at the last conference, EXTRAORDINARY WARREN and there wasn't a dry eye in the room from laughing so hard!
A chicken who wants to be special is convinced by a hungry rat that he is no ordinary chicken, but Chicken Supreme!!!! The humor is off the charts hilarious for all readers, even though the intended audience is the youngest chapter book reader. This one hits ALL the buttons. I'm thrilled to have Sarah here today to talk about EXTRAORDINARY WARREN.
Q. Sarah, this is one 'out there' idea! How did it come to you?
A. Thanks so much. This was such a fun book to do. It started when I did a doodle of a chicken looking at an egg and wondered what that chicken was thinking about. It seemed that he had some pretty big life questions about who he was and where he came from and where he was going. Warren evolved from that. He really is kind of a philosopher I think. I knew I needed a villain and a rat seemed like the obvious choice. I've always loved Templeton from Charlotte's Web. I loved the idea that Warren befriends an egg but I also knew that at some point that egg was going to have to hatch. Somehow it all came together.
Q. Was it tricky to pull off the subtlety all the way through the story?
A. I think sometimes I am too subtle! But I will say that I wrote and rewrote this story many many times. I was lucky to have had wonderful input along the way from my fabulous agent Lori Nowicki at Painted Words and also my incredible critique group. And I was lucky to have an extraordinary editor in Karen Nagel.
Q. I know you as a more quiet soul - where did this comic genius streak come from!?
A. I am a quiet person but quiet doesn't necessarily mean serious. I have always had a pretty strong funny side as well.
Q. I love the simple shapes and limited color palette in EXTRAORDINARY WARREN - different from some of your other works. What was your approach?
A. Before I started writing, I think that my art was more lovely and rich. I thought I would probably write like that too, but everything seems to come out funny. I had to make adjustments to my work. At first that was kind of scary, but then it felt very liberating. Instead of approaching the book thinking I will give this book my look, I turned it around and thought what look does this book need me to give it.
Warren definitely dictated the art for this book. I tried a lot of approaches but a nice simple line with flat color was what worked best. The limited palette was at the suggestion of my art director. At first it seemed horrifying and impossible. But I started looking at a lot of illustrations are from the 1920's and '30s, which I have always loved, especially the work of L. Leslie Brooke, Maud and Miska Petersham, Maginel Wright Enright and her wonderful illustrations in the My Bookhouse series, and Winsor Mcay's Little Nemo's Adventures in Slumberland. One thing that really strikes me about all of those illustrations is the beautiful line and flat colors. Due to printing processes then, many of those illustrations were just one or two colors and black. I realized that black could be used not just as line but also as a color, which led to a nice bold graphic look that really works for Warren.
I started the book thinking that I would work in my usual water color and gouache, but it became clear that the best way to achieve the look that I wanted would be to work digitally, which was a big change for me. It does seem sort of ironic that looking at old illustrations led me to work this way!
Click the image above to see it larger in a new window.
Q. I'd love to hear about your path into the publishing biz, and especially about the path for EXTRAORDINARY WARREN to publication. Have you publishers been over the top about it since day one? (I should think so!)
A. Amazingly, not everyone fell in love with Warren immediately. He was rejected many times, but with each rejection there were useful comments that helped me to make Warren stronger. If I were to give any advice to people trying to get published, it would be don't give up and learn to accept criticism and use it to your advantage. And again, don't give up. Really, persistence is the most important piece of the puzzle.
Q. What will you do to celebrate the release of EXTRAORDINARY WARREN?
A. I've been visiting blogs and have some book signings coming up but mostly I've been hard at work on Extraordinary Warren Saves the Day, which will be out in October. I don't want to give too much away about that one, but I will tell you that Warren and Egg are going to cross the road.
Q. Thanks so much for stopping by Sarah! I can't wait to see what you come up with next!
A. Thank You!
Sarah is kindly offering a free, signed and dedicated copy of EXTRAORDINARY WARREN to one of my lucky followers. Must live in the US or Canada to win. Enter by leaving a comment below.
We Have a Winner!
It's Rosi! Congratulations!