Questions readers have asked the publisher…
Questions young readers have asked the author about Cursed Dishes…
Q: What happened for real?
A: The opening scene in Cursed Dishes is pretty much what happened for real. My real middle sister was “playing on the computer” (she didn’t call it “blowing things up on the computer”, but that’s what it looked like to me). She said the computer game was why she couldn’t come and scrape out her soggy cereal bowl. It really was cereal — cheerios, I think — and it really was gross. I really did get mad. I even really tried putting my sisters’ leftovers in my sisters’ bedrooms for them to deal with. But, of course, these dishes ended up back in the kitchen without any magical tether to keep them chasing my sisters in my absence.
My real youngest sister didn’t get on my nerves quite as much, but just like in this story, she was equally blamed for yucky dishes.
Q: How old were you when you started writing this book?
A: I was sixteen when I wrote the first version of this book. It was just a short story then, without the vocabulary or pacing to really be a story for children.
Q: Do your sisters understand now, about the dishes?
A: It was about four years later, but yes. After I moved out, my sisters were washing most of the household dishes. They told me my leftover-scraping demand finally made sense.
Q: Was it hard to write the book?
A: The first version I wrote was easy. I think I typed it all up in one afternoon. What was hard was doing the rewrites, much later. It was hard to simplify and shorten the story into picture book material. It was hard to stretch it into chapter book material (the form in which it was eventually published).
The hardest part of the rewrites was making the adventure more fun than just Glenda’s lesson in good dishes manners. Vengeance on my little sisters was my first reason for writing the story, so it came across too strong for a while. I think it’s really hard to write well-balanced stories when you have a character based too closely on yourself. I’m hoping to fictionalize Glenda as much as possible in future books, so I don’t feel too compelled to let her/me have our own way all the time.
Q: How long did it take to make the book?
A: Once the final version was written and my publisher had it, it took about four months. The press recruited Doriano Strologo via Facebook, mid-January 2014. He sent his first sketches for the story at the beginning of February. He had the cover art finished at the beginning of March, and the final versions of all the interior pictures by the beginning of April. He had to tweak a couple of things at the last minute — like giving the dad a beard, because I really wanted him to have one.
My publisher designed the layout (all the pages in the book, including the ones that aren’t part of the story), using a computer program called InDesign. She had to decide where to insert all the pictures in the text, how big to make them, and how much to darken or lighten them for the best print quality. Then she had to map out the extra pages, front cover, back cover, and spine. All this took about 12 hours. The printers took about two weeks to produce one hundred pre-publication copies. Then, it took my publisher a couple more 3-hour sessions to make small changes in the layout before the store copies could be printed.
Q: Do you like writing?
A: Yes, I love it! It’s my favourite way to daydream. That’s how all my writing starts. I just wander off in my head thinking “what if…?” and eventually something that makes me think a lot makes me write. Fantasy is my favourite playground for writing. I love constructing magical worlds that help me escape my everyday life. I love making characters so real in my own mind that I can put them into any situation and know how they’ll react. And I love to read, almost as much as I love to write. It’s all about the stories!