The Making of AMELIA

Several years ago I wrote my first published picture book entitled FLYING LESSONS. Before it was picked up by Disney Hyperion, the story was originally intended to be seen on my website as an animated book with music. (This was before the invention of an iPad.) My agent Steven Malk directed several editors to my site where they were won over by the humorous and heart-felt story that matched perfectly to the music that I had recorded from my yamaha keyboard.

When I read the book in schools and bookstores, I played the animation behind me, where the music and pacing of the moving characters set the tone for the story. Audiences loved it. It was always in my opinion that my story was better understood when I had the aid of animation and music to lure people into my world.

At one of my readings Itai Asseo and his son were in the crowd. We discussed the ipad that had just been released and the future of picture books being somewhere along the lines of my animated story. A year later I ran into Itai at the Andrew Bird concert in Prospect Park where he proposed that we combine talents: I write and illustrate a story, and he would program and release it as a mobile application. I was reluctant to try it at first since I had the means to get an advance for my story as a picture book but my desire to create something that incorporated all of my interests combined with the opportunity to invent something new was stronger than my need for an advance from a publisher and my fear of failure, so I agreed.

Strangely, the story I wrote for the application mirrored my own life. Like the octopus Amelia, who had 8 tentacles and thought that she could do it all, I had my hands in writing, drawing, composing, playing music and animating my stories. I realized that there was no way that I could program or copy edit this story, and like the octopus, I was going to have to rely on the help of friends. With this project I learned how to collaborate with Itai as a programmer and Tamson Weston as an editor. Without them, this project never would have been made.

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