In a month and a half, I’ll launch the Kickstarter for my first illustrated book, Monstrous Me.
The book is a collection of monsters, each a grotesque exaggeration of a quirk, bad habit or poor quality we have inside of us, like the ogre who over schedules his life, but blames other people for ruining his calendar. The coffee addict that’s dying for another drop. The gnat that needs feedback on everything she does. The fitness addict who just needs one more step to feel good.
Or… maybe it’s just me? Are these just my bad sides?
Maybe I’m just the monster.
In January, I started writing again. Most of it was rhyming, nonsense stories as before, but instead of the 20-30 verse pieces that were typical for Fantastic Ballads, these pieces were similar to sonnets and clocked in around 14-18 lines. With names like the Flower Devourer, The Pitter Pattern, Mr. Tracks-It and Aunt Eek, they became a weekly exercise – and creative release – that fit in with an increasingly hectic television production schedule.
Soon, I reached out to artists on Fiverr to have these monsters illustrated. The woman I ultimately connected with added so much more to each illustration than the art – she brought her personal experience, her curiosity and her humor, and each story was all the better for it. That led to a delightful month of collaboration and creation.
Then, as I was staring down five weeks of free time in March and April – I presented her with what seemed like a crazy idea.
Instead of just one monster, or two, or three… what if we made 50?
And… released them all as a book?
So I spent March and April writing, rewriting, and killing off a bunch of ideas. Though we agreed to flesh out 50 stories with accompanying illustrations, the final edition will likely have less than 50 (two of the four pictured in this post won’t make the final cut) as we whittle out the weak and make sure the monsters that remain are the most monstrous.
Over the next handful of Mondays, I’ll post updates on Monstrous Me. Some will be more substantive and include breakdowns of the processes involved (self-publishing, crowdfunding, illustrator collaboration), and others will be more goodie-intensive (art and excerpts and animations, oh my!).
Right now, the manuscript is in the hands of the first round of editors, and the second round of edits begins in July. The first draft of sketches is coming soon, and I look forward to sharing a few of those with you.
With the Kickstarter campaign looming, I’m working through an outreach timeline and developing some promotional ideas and materials.
As I refine the book, and learn a new set of skills for promotion, design, and animation, the next few months should be chock-full of good, bad and ugly updates.
With respect to animation, I’ve been tooling around with Adobe Animate. My first three experiments are up on Instagram now, and the plan is to become less terrible at it over the coming weeks, so I can use the software to animate the monsters, and, hopefully, the book trailer.
When the edits and sketches of the monsters come in, I’ll release a few to show those baddies that are shaping up into book form, as well as some of the unlucky beasts that are writhing around on the cutting room floor, and why they met their untimely demise.
Also, to keep this from being a totally self-indulgent process (is it too late if I’m writing this on a personal blog?), I’ll host an in-depth interview with the book’s artist, Liz, on her inspirations, influences, and other projects.
I’ll get granular about the pleasures and perils of launching and sustaining a Kickstarter campaign, the cost breakdown of self-publishing a colorful, illustrated book, and any other technical goodies along the way.
Despite what feels to me like a lot of progress, there’s still so much to do. As I edit, revise, share and post about the goings-on (then, in turn, as I doubt, denigrate, disparage and internally eviscerate myself) of Monstrous Me, I appreciate you coming along on this ride. It’s going to be fun!
Besides, we’re all monsters, aren’t we?