The day is here! Cowgirls Don’t Ride Zebras is now available for purchase!
It’s been a long road full of self-doubt, self-exploration, and a lot of fun. When I first envisioned this “simple” book, it was a project that I thought I’d get to “someday.” I don’t know if I believed I’d ever get to it; there was always something more important to work on.
This book is special. This book came out of my love for my son, Jack. When Joe Bishara invited me to write a play for children, I scanned through my list of ideas and the most appropriate one for a play was actually an idea meant for a children’s book. As you can probably guess, that was Cowgirls Don’t Ride Zebras. I knew I’d be writing the play specifically for Jack, so I made a list of what a play written for Jack would need:
Jack is intensely excited for the play! He asks about going "backstage" a lot. He can't wait! After I created the play, I decided to change that play back into the children’t book I had originally wanted to write. It’s been a long process, but it’s here, it’s real.
What’s been most difficult in this process, I mean, beyond overcoming the self-doubt, was actually finding a process and a workflow. This was my first time creating a children’s book. I watched a lot of YouTube videos about process, but there weren’t too many that were helpful. I spent a lot of time reading children’s books, even without Jack! I read them, trying to understand how many words to put on a page, how large my words could get, how simple my sentences should be. I learned there’s no hard and fast rule for this. There’s no real pattern. A lot depends on reading level, so I went back to the reason for writing the book and concentrated on creating the book and its text for Jack at his level.
I did have a lot of difficulty with the text of the book. The original book idea was very, very simple, but I had expanded it into a play. I liked the expanded characters and new plot of the play. I had to find some way to take that expanded plot and stage business and whittle it down into a simpler story. It took a lot of time. Each time I read the text, I cut it down more and more. Even as I was finishing the artwork, I’d cut the text down.
It would have been ideal to have the text completely frozen while working on the illustrations because it turned out I needed two more drawings than I had storyboarded out. And making last minute revisions to the text meant making last minute revisions to the illustrations. Live and learn.
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed drawing as much as I have. I’d missed having drawing in my life considerably. Having finished the book, I haven’t drawn as much. In fact, I’m starting another play. It’s been so long since I’ve started a play, I’m re-learning how to be a playwright again!
There’s a lot of talk about labors of love and this book is truly that. It was conceived of love for my son and created through my love for my son and my love for drawing. Yes, I made it for Jack, but I also made it for me.
Cowgirls Don’t Ride Zebras the children’s book is now available.
The play premieres in March! For more information, check out CATCO’s website.