Truly there’s a lot of work that goes into making a children’s book. So I’d love to give you the sneak peek behind how this book was created, who helped make it possible, and why we made the creative decisions that we did.
When I first met with Crystal, the illustrator, all I had was the written manuscript. We sat down at a little cafe in downtown Tacoma and began to discuss my vision for the characters and book. After our initial discussion, she came back with a couple of very quick sketches that helped lay out the whole book and explored both characters and different environments.
If you read the final, you’ll see that we stayed pretty true to the original storyboard.
I remember seeing these sketches and already thinking they were so beautiful. In fact when I saw Little Love for the first time, I really was choking back tears because this little girl represented myself and everything I’d been through. To read about that story, check out this blog post.
Once we agreed on the original storyboard, then we began exploring more concrete versions of the characters. It was Crystal’s idea to have Little Love’s heart on the outside of her body. Her heart is really the focal point of the book because it shows her emotions. I thought this was brilliant. I also loved all the hearts she added into her pigtails and kneecaps. Below is a more high fidelity sketch of Little Love before we started adding color.
Beauty’s look was the biggest challenge of all. How do you define beauty? If we made her blonde, does that mean only blondes were considered beautiful? We decided to make it more fantasmic by introducing colored hair. That way beauty could relate to everyone. We pulled in deeper red violets and magentas for Beauty, and more pinks and red for Little Love.
Another challenge was how could we include Beauty and Fame in the spread without actually having them physically be there? We decided to create “tokens,” that each represented Beauty and Fame. Fame was his top hat, and Beauty was her boa and perfume bottle. The idea was that these tokens influence Little Love throughout the story. Sometimes she forsake them, and other times she clung to them. We added sparkle to show how much these things are sought after.
We also spent a considerable time discussing the environments. We focused on architectural details from the French Baroque period to influence Beauty’s dressing room, and the streets of Paris to influence the marketplace. We wanted these environments to feel rich and serve as an extension of the characters and what they aspire to.
The illustrations took about 9 months to complete. I liken this book to a pregnancy 🙂 Once the illustrations were done it was time to send off files to the publisher and begin setting the book up for distribution. Once I got the book in my hands it was an overwhelming and emotional experience. After a year and a half of working on this, I still felt in shock. Was this moment real? Somedays I still don’t believe that this book is here, but I’m so grateful for Crystal, the publishers, and all the people who believe in Little Love as much as I do. If you’d like to share the story of Little Love, click here to purchase.