Hi Dan! Thanks for joining me here to talk about the latest book you illustrated, Rodzilla!
It’s a real pleasure. You’ve been making quite a name for yourself in the last two years and I applaud all the things you’ve achieved in that time for the literary community!
Tell us a little bit about Rodzilla.
Rodzilla is the story of a lizard type creature who inadvertently terrorizes Megalopolis City due to his large stature and childlike mannerisms. It pays homage to classic Godzilla movies that we all used to enjoy when we were younger. It pairs well with a child’s imagination to be an omnipotent being among a tiny world which is at the mercy of your massiveness. The story was written by Rob Sanders, who lives out in Florida, and I had the pleasure of meeting for the first time, last year. It’s a fun read which I enjoy reading to kids. It gets them laughing.
Tell us a little bit about your process.
When I illustrate a project such as this I like to just dive right in and allow my mind to be very impulsive so I can spit out whatever comes to my mind first. This phase really is just loose scribbles that only I can really decipher. I then take those ideas and then I’ll take a few passes trying to refine the jokes, compositions, and character designs all at once. I don’t really have time to spend a day focusing on just one thing (like character design) so I’m often trying to do all those things while I’m trying to work out other aspects of the books such as the pacing and color palette.
Have you always been into writing and illustrating?
Yes! When I was a kid I thought I wanted to make movies. I was an only child so I used to make my own comic books because it was the closest thing to storytelling in a film format that I could do. As I grew older I realized I had a greater passion for storytelling than I did for actual drawing and painting. Drawing was always the thing I was complimented on because the results were easily observed by anyone who walked by, but creative writing was subjective and oddly enough, I felt like a lot of kids I grew up with didn’t like the same things I did. I felt like I was the only kid watching “He-Man” and “Transformers” in the fourth grade. It was as if everyone I knew grew too old for that stuff at an early age. What’s up with that?!
What’s the most exciting part of your job?
When I get to have lunch or dinner with fellow authors who live in town or when a fellow author is coming through town on a book tour. We often talk shop and talk process and share our emotional ups and downs.
What inspires your creativity?
I inhale content. I listen to music, read books, play video games, and watch a lot of film and television. Often times an idea comes from being inspired by other ideas. You see how someone presents an idea and when you to try to see it from another perspective you sometimes end up with something new. I’m also inspired by my family, especially my kids. They help remind me how to communicate with children and speak to their interests.
What is one thing that readers don’t know about you, that only you could tell us?
Years back when I was working on a book series with Rhea Perlman, my family was invited to her home in Malibu. We hung out with Rhea and her husband, Danny Devito, and it was the first time our 6-month old son saw the ocean. While we were there we saw someone walking down the beach over to us and we were wondering, “Do we know anyone else at this party?”
It was George Clooney.
Rhea introduced us to George. He complimented our child and kissed his forehead.
Our child was kissed by George Clooney.
If you weren’t writing books, what do you think you’d be doing?
I’d be a very unhappy dentist.
What can readers expect from you in the future?
My next picture book comes out in October called After the Fall. It’s about Humpty Dumpty recovering from his famous fall and overcoming his fear of heights. In April 2018 I have a book coming out with Aaron Reynolds called, Dude! and I’m working on a few graphic novels of my own. The first is The Aquanaut with Arthur A. Levine Books and the second is a memoir called You Bad Son for First Second.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers of this blog?
I knew Dylan Teut before he was famous.