Whenever I encounter an irresistible picture book, one of the first things I want to know is how the author came up with the idea. Capturing that illusive first idea is always a crucial step of any writing project.
Since spunky Cindy Moo is leaping into stores on May 15 (only two weeks away!) it’s a great time to share how Cindy Moo got started. One of the things I like to do is browse at my local thrift store, so one day I happened to see a figurine of a cow sitting on a moon. As soon as I saw the innocent looking cow perched on the crescent moon it, I knew it would be fun to write a story about how the cow got there. As I stood there in the store, a little debate went on in my head. Should I go ahead and buy the cow, or should I just walk away? I told myself I didn’t have to buy it since I already had the idea. But wait, I argued, when you sell the manuscript to a wonderful publisher and give a talk about it, you’ll be able to hold up the very cow that gave you the idea. (Never mind that up until then, I’d given very few presentations.)
In the end, the “buy the cow” argument won and I bought the figurine and went home to write. It seemed obvious to me, that this cow would be connected to the “Hey Diddle Diddle” rhyme, and a cow that heard the rhyme would want to try and jump over the moon too. Rhyme was the logical choice since it was associated with a nursery rhyme, and rhyme would be a great way to infuse the story with a rollicking rhythm of gallant, galloping cow.
Two years later, much to my delight, I held up my little statuette when I spoke at SCBWI’s Beyond the Bay Series last November and told them about my upcoming rhyming picture book Cindy Moo.
It was great to complete the journey I’d only imagined one day in my local thrift store.