For me, one of the best parts about hosting this blog is all the amazing people I have to opportunity to get to know. Especially when those people are amazing authors and illustrators!
This week I was lucky enough to interview the fabulous (and extremely witty) Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown of Picture the Dead.
These two talented ladies collaborated on this book. Adele is the author and Lisa is the illustrator! They're both brilliant really, but you'll see what I mean when you read this book.
It's a must read! You'll find my review here tomorrow, but for now let's get to their interview shall we?
1) A challenge: Describe Picture the Dead in 10 words or less!
LB: An illustrated civil war era paranormal romance for young adults.
AG: and collaboration.
LB: That’s 12, Adele.
2) Where did the idea for this book spring from?
LB: There was this amazing exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2005: “The Perfect Medium: Photography and the Occult.” It was an exhibit of spirit photographs from the 19th and early 20th centuries; that is, photographs of ghosts. Adele and I were fairly obsessed with these pictures, and they started us thinking: “what if there was a photo session for a clearly fradulent “ghost photo,” but then something else happened within the final image that could not be explained?
AG: I also like to think in early days, we were each holding onto half of it. Lisa first saw the early spirit photography and this Boston-based landscape of the Civil War, and I first saw the orphan running down the rabbit hole, unearthing family secrets. We put it together like chocolate and peanut butter.
3) I read on your site that you two were brought together by your agent! Was it collaboration at first sight?
LB: Indeed, but not on this project. We have the obligatory manuscript-in-a-drawer that was our first attempt at collaboration: a modern-day retelling of the Salem witch trials in a contemporary New England high school. Called “The Book of Humiliations.”
AG: That first meeting was also a pooling of childhood reading memories. I wish I had a recording from that afternoon of the two of us exclaiming “oh, I read that, loved that one, too—that’s my favorite book, oh, yes, that book changed my life.”
4) Will the two of you be working together again? (Please say yes!)
AG: And when Lisa agrees to an exclamation mark, you know it’s on. She has only used about five in her lifetime.
5) Which character did you identify the most with while crafting this story?
LB: I guess that I would have to say our heroine, Jennie. But my *favorite* character was Nathaniel Dearborn, a young soldier with a festering wound and a less-than-firm grip on reality.
AG: I think there is some of the trickster Geist/Viviette in me. Or at least I really identified with their studio, their intrigues, and their societal apartness.
6) What was your favorite part of crafting this story?
LB: Without a doubt, getting to work with Adele. Not only is she an incredible writer from whom I’ve learned so much about narrative and tone, but she’s an absolutely hilarious person. We crack each other up on a regular basis.
AG: Aw, shucks! And I really have to echo that—I can hit dangerously seventh grade decibels of laughter around Lisa, the whole collaborative process was just about perfect. What I think was so exciting about Picture the Dead, too, was its risk. Lisa’s taking these musty old daguerrotypes and business cards and envelopes and reinventing them as modern images. There’s something so thrilling about being part of an experiment, a brand-new concept in YA.
7) Where do you go when you need inspiration or hit a bout of writer's block?
LB: I take a long walk up and down the hills of my San Francisco neighborhood. Sometimes the walk ends with the purchase of a cup of coffee and a cookie.
AG: I get my coffee fix from Tazza. Same kind of meditative walk. We both are highly caffeinated at all times.
8) Do you have a favorite snack or drink while writing?
LB: Coffee, coffee and more coffee. Did I mention I like coffee? Sometimes, when I’m painting, I reach for my coffee and end up almost drinking my watercolor water.
AG: I can picture this so clearly.
9) Random question of the day: You find a time machine. What time period do you go back to first?
AG: I’d go back to April 19, 1963, my great-grandparents fiftieth wedding anniversary party. To spy on my teenage mom, and my grandmother who would have been younger than me, and my great-grandmother whom I never met.
LB: Gosh. Too hard. Well, I wouldn’t mind trying out the Victorian era. After all, I know a lot about it at this point, and I am fascinated. That is, if I didn’t have to live there permanently. Say if I needed antiboitics, or if I were born into the servant class. Upstairs always seems way more fun than downstairs.
10) What are you working on currently? Can you share anything about it?
AG: I’m site-building for my novel out this fall called The Julian Game. It’s an age-old story of bullying, only played out on Facebook.
LB: I have a new picture book that I’m really excited about coming out for Halloween entitled “Vampire Boy’s Good Night,” about a little vampire and his friend, a little witch. Here’s the cover.
I’m also at work on a graphic novel that takes place in a sideshow at a carnival. And Adele and I have another collaboration in the works, but it’s a super secret.
Thank you to these lovely ladies for taking the time to stop by and answer these questions!
Check back tomorrow for a review!
As I mentioned you'll absolutely be wanting to go and get yourself a copy of this book as soon as possible!
To help you out, here's some links: