Simply 7 with Troy Wilson–“Goldibooks and the Wee Bear”

Today I get to share another fairy tale adaptation with you.  I do so love these evergreen stories!

Troy photo1 (1)Troy Wilson lives in Victoria, BC, Canada. His debut picture book, Perfect Man, was published nearly 17 years ago, and received praise from none other than Stan “The Man” Lee. His latest book, titled Hat Cat, is due out this October, illustrated by Eve Coy and published by Candlewick.  You can learn more about him at his website.

goldibooks cover“GoldiBooks and the Wee Bear” is a fairy tale adaptation perfect for fans of reading.  Not only does it have fun with the Goldilocks story, but it pays homage to book lovers everywhere.  If you are a reader, you will love all the clever inclusions here.

Welcome Troy!

Me: “Goldibooks and the Wee Bear” is your eighth published picture book. Congrats!  You have also written in other genres, like comics and some short stories for magazines.  So what is it that draws you to writing picture books?

Troy: I get to team up with tons of talented folks to marry words and pictures in these uniquely delightful packages that entertain, educate, uplift, and inspire everyone from toddlers to seniors. What’s not to love? 

Me: Agreed!  I love a fairy tale adaptation that can still manage to be fresh after so many revisions out there and you definitely flipped “Goldilocks and the 3 Bears” on its head in this story.  How did you come up with this idea?

Troy: To understand where this book came from, we have to go back to its predecessor, “Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf”, drawn by Ilaria Campana and also published by Running Press Kids. That one started with the name and the name alone: Little Red Reading Hood. From there, I had to figure out a story to go with the catchy moniker.

Fast forward to August 2018. “Red” was totally finished, but wouldn’t be released until July 2019. I loved the result so much that I wanted to give the whole reading-themed fairy tale thing another go. As before, the name was the first thing to come to me: Goldibooks. And as before, the story came to involve a forest animal who broke into a human home to access much-loved books. So in several respects, the first book had already shown me the way. Though, of course, there are many important differences between the two as well. I’d have been bored silly if I were just repeating myself. And besides, many key differences are baked right into the DNA of the original tales.

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Me: I loved reading “Little Red Reading Hood and the Misread Wolf” a few years ago.  Are you writing a series of these reading-fairytale-picture books?  Can we look forward to more of them? (PLEASE say yes!) 

Troy: Maybe.

Me:  LOL!  Got it.  You seriously lucked out!  HOW did you get your book illustrated by Edwardian Taylor?  He’s already got great experience illustrating fairy tales so what a perfect fit!  Were there any illustrating surprises for you?

Troy: I agree, I did seriously luck out. As often happens, it was the publisher that suggested the artist – and I was thrilled with their choice! To be honest, I didn’t think they’d get him. I thought that he or his agent would decline because he’s already doing the fantastic “It’s Not” fairy tale series with Josh Funk. But I’m happy I was wrong.

There were loads of illustrating surprises. For instance, when Wee Bear gazes at the bookshelves, both the shelves and his eyes are twinkling. Later in the story, there is an identical twinkle in Mama Bear’s eyes when she catches sight of the shelves. I wouldn’t have thought to add any of that twinkling.

More examples? I knew Wee Bear would leave a trail of books behind him, but I didn’t expect him to leave a trail of shrubbery behind, too. Nor did I expect him to be drooling as he slept.

These surprises (and many others) make the story more visually interesting and fun. But that’s not all they do. They also help to reinforce and enrich the story that’s being told. At first blush, the drool might seem to be funny and nothing more, yet it also serves to indicate just how deeply Wee Bear is sleeping.

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Me: What is one thing that surprised you in writing this story? 

Troy: Originally, the story concluded inside Goldibooks’s home, much like the story in “Red” ended inside Grandma’s house. So the settings and characters that appear after that point definitely surprised me.

Me: Any advice for new picture book writers?

Troy: I recommend they have the BEST POSSIBLE BOOK as their North Star, their guiding light. It doesn’t matter what a manuscript always has been or what it is now. All that matters is what the manuscript can be and should be.  If they hear a brutal but bang-on critique, they need to heed it. If they think of a radically different and radically better approach, they need to take it. Even if it means only keeping a single sentence. Even if it means keeping nothing at all, and starting again. Better is better. And best is best.

Me: I love that.  When you were a child, who was your favorite fairy tale character?  Have you already written a story for them?

Troy: As my mom will readily attest, I went through a big Pinocchio phase as a kid. For awhile there, I absolutely had to have every last edition of the story in existence. I do have a story idea for him, but it feels too thin right now.

Aww.  Well, I hope you can find a way to fatten him up and we get to see another reading fairy tale rendition.  Thanks for stopping by Troy.

Dear readers, if you haven’t had a chance yet to check out this story, track it down and give it a read.  I never cease to be amazed when someone can find a new spin on such old stories, but they’re still out there!  This story is the proof!

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