Cale Atkinson's UNICORNS 101

I was a total unicorn nut when I was a kid, how about you? So, this handy, dandy book that contains all you would ever want to know about unicorns would have been right up my alley. It's called UNICORNS 101 by Cale Atkinson. He stopped by to tell us more about it!
e: Hi Cale! Why unicorns?
The real question is why not Unicorns?! There was only so long I could resist telling a story about the world’s most magical fictitiously fantastic animal. Being able to draw them wearing smart lab coats was the icing on the unicorn cake.
e: Did you know that unicorns are the national animal of Scotland?
I did not know that! Though in all honesty, if I were to imagine where a real unicorn would be found, Scotland would be the place! I will also now forever imagine unicorns speaking in a Scottish accent.

e: What was your creative process/medium for Unicorns 101, can you walk us through it?
There was a lot of sweets and caffeine involved to really get inside the mind of a Unicorn. Once I felt I was high enough on sugar it was time to hit the notebook. Since Unicorns 101 is a book filled with unicorn facts, it meant I needed to come up with as much random unicorn knowledge as possible, and then cut it down to the best of the best for the book. My process was lots of scribbling of notes and doodles to figure out what may work as a fact or section. One of the unforeseen challenges that came later was figuring out how to present all the information on each page in a way that didn’t completely overwhelm the reader. I tried to keep things very sectional, so that we could cut, add, or rearrange areas quite easily, without breaking apart the whole book. The art itself was done digitally, with the intention to make things read as clear and funny as possible! I felt that going in a more simple/cartoon art direction worked better for a book with this amount of content.
e: This is a wild book - are you wild too?
I am certainly a little wild, I think anyone trying to be an author or illustrator has to be a bit untameable!

e: I so agree. What was your path to publication?
Every book I’ve written has come about a little bit differently. For Unicorns 101, I was actually contacted by my published Doubleday after they randomly came across a picture I had illustrated years before of a group of unicorn scientists.
We had a few conversations on what direction we could take a book of these silly professors, and it was their gem of an idea to format it as a ‘non-fiction’ educational book on unicorns. I ran with the idea, wrote out my first draft and here we are! Hooray!

e: Is there a unique or funny story behind the creation of Unicorns 101?
Working as an author/illustrator there are always many bizarre and absurd conversations you have with your editor, and Unicorns 101 was no exception! Serious debates on Unicorn poop, rainbow farts, and just how much glitter is too much? (The correct answer is there is never enough.)
e: What do you think makes an illustration magical, what I call "Heart Art” - the sort that makes a reader want to come back to look again and again?
For myself a lot of what I would call ‘Heart Art’ stems from the genuine intention the artist brings to the work. While it’s hard to pinpoint, I feel artwork created with passion and love will always contain an extra layer of depth and magic.
e: How do you advertise yourself (or do you)?
I do try and promote my work where I can, such as the social media channels (twitter and instagram). Otherwise I leave selling my books in the very capable hands of my publishers marketing department.
e: What is your favorite or most challenging part of being a creator?
I feel my favorite and the most challenging parts are one and the same for me. I love coming up with new ideas and trying new things. Taking these new ideas or techniques, and trying to put them down on paper or turn them into something pleasant is a different story! I find writing unspeakably challenging, but the reward of finally wrangling out the right words to tell your story makes it all worth it.
e: Is there something in particular about Unicorns 101 you hope readers will take away with them, perhaps something that isn’t immediately obvious?
Aside from learning all the wild and wacky facts of unicorns, I hope that this book may spark readers to be interested in reading and learning about non fantasy animals in our world. In my opinion real animals are just as fantastic and magical as unicorns.
e: What are you working on next or what would be your dream project?
I’m happy to report that along with a couple books I illustrated, I have a sequel to Unicorns 101 coming later this year! ‘Monsters 101’ is coming to bring you all the gruesome and fun facts related to all monsters, known and unknown!
      I am also excited to be currently working on a sequel to my picture book ‘Sir Simon: Super Scarer’. This continuation is going to be in a slightly different format than the original, being a short graphic novel. I can’t wait to share more adventures of Simon and Chester. Being able to tell more of my own stories is always a dream, but also being able to collaborate with others is something I look to do more of.

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