Writers are always asked where their ideas come from. Sometimes I know exactly when and where an idea originated.
I heard a song. I saw a squirrel. I read a really cool word.
I try to remember now, because, as I said, writers are always asked. I get many of my ideas from word play, because that’s my favorite kind of writing. But I have never gotten an idea from a piece of art.
In March of 2015, I was lucky enough to see these adorable pieces by Lisa Mundorff.
Lisa and I share the same agent, so I was given the opportunity to create a story based on these pictures.
Since it was something I had never done before, I was excited.
This sounded fun. And easy!
I wrote one story about penguins and rainbows.
Then another about rainbows and penguins.
And you get the idea.
I wrote in rhyme.
I wrote in prose.
I wrote a short story, then a long one.
Ultimately, I couldn’t do it. I just didn’t have a story in me about penguins and rainbows.
Weeks passed, then months. 5 months to be exact. Then I thought about a whale.
No matter how hard I try, I cannot think why I thought of a whale, but once the whale popped into my head, I knew I had a story.
And I wrote it!
The whale was the key; the unexpected character that changed the direction of the dead end I was cruising down.
In August 2015, Lisa read it and liked it. So did our agent!
Lisa sketched out the story and then in January 2016, we sold A Small Blue Whale to Knopf.
It is a story about a whale searching for a friend, who just happens to be those silly rainbow-chasing penguins.
So ultimately, I did write a story about penguins and rainbows, but it took the addition of the whale, something new and unexpected, to make the story come to life.
Writing this book taught me that whatever I assume is going to be easy will never be easy. And things that I assume will be hard will actually be hard! It also taught me to think a little bigger, even if that bigger is a small blue whale.
Beth Ferry is a picture book writer who lives near the beach in New Jersey. She is the author of numerous picture books illustrated by amazing artists. Her titles include A Small Blue Whale, published October 2017 as well as Stick and Stone, Land Shark, Pirate’s Perfect and Sealed with a Kiss which will be published for Valentine’s Day 2019.
Would you like a signed copy of A SMALL BLUE WHALE? Let us know in the comment section and I will enter your name. If you share this post of Twitter or FB, I will enter your name again. Reblog it, and get a third entry. The winner will be chosen at random on Wednesday, December 6, 2017. US residents only, please.