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Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Afterward to "Kerry and the Scary Things!" Book to hit stores this month!

Hey Everyone-- My new children's book "Kerry and the Scary Things is hitting stores at the end of the month. It's the first in a series of new books. I hope you'll check it out. In the meantime, here is a little history about the project. Oh, and the cover is by Michael Golden, interiors by Keith Wilson, story by myself! :-)



The Bag of Tricks!

Kerry, the hero of our piece, may look like a kid, yet he's anything but!

In fact, he had his birth somewhere around 1986 when my friend and collaborator, Keith Wilson and I first started batting around the idea of a little boy who loves monsters, and the alternate universe in which they live.

At that point, fresh out of college and eager to create, I penciled out the story for Kerry, and Keith, an amazing cartoonist, designed the look of the title character, along with our other cast and crew.

Before the days of the Internet, we sent out pitch packets to various companies, heart in hand, and waited on the postman for a "yeah" or "nay."

We finally got our "yeah." A publisher bought our story, and elated, we began working on the follow up to "Kerry and the Scary Things," entitled "Kerry and the Dreadful Dragon." Other books in the works included "Amanda and the Magnolia Tree."

Unfortunately, the publisher in question went belly up, and Kerry's temporary home was no more. There was nothing in our bag of creative tricks to fix that! Plus, Keith had already moved to New York at this point to work on covers at DC Comics, and around the same time, I was also offered a job as an assistant editor at DC Comics myself, working in the Superman office with the talented Mike Carlin.

So, I loaded up the truck and moved to New York. And Kerry was put on the back burner, where he sat for many patient years, while we lived our lives and worked on our careers.

As time went by, I continued editing comics, and segued into film production, writing and artist agenting. Keith moved back to Texas, started a family, and continued to work in comics and publishing. We also began to see many of our initial original ideas mirrored vaguely in various books and films... Not that it was intentional... sometimes I feel that once things are out in the ether, anyone with a creative brain can grab them "out of thin air," and voila! Like concepts can happen almost simultaneously. (A word of advice to all of you "sitting on your ideas.")

In fact, one of my usual sermons is about how the instantaneous hum of the Internet puts us in the position of homogenizing thought and creativity around the world...will thoughts and ideas have time to grow and mature unfettered, without constant outside, uniforming stimuli?

Kerry and his cast of Scary Things are certainly paying tribute to some of those fantastic, unfettered ideas of bygone years, while still trying to be far removed from any "monster" stories out there, as he becomes his own adventurer with his own ideas of how to deal with his world, and as we also glean hints of his Grandfather's past.

After working in publishing for over 20 years, it became obvious that it was time for Keith and I to get back to the children's books we loved so much. Eva Ink and Hot Attack Publishing illuminated the path. Not only did we owe it to our concepts and ideas, but also to the people who helped along the way.

Our monster fighter, Kerry himself, had his start inspired by grand old monster stories of our "Afternoon Movie" days, and to those we pay homage. Kerry himself is named after monster loving artist, dinosaur drawin', Kerry Gammill , who is a friend of both Keith Wilson and myself. So, naming our character who puts together a monster fighting backpack and goes in search of adventure was the easiest part! Thank you Kerry!

So too, was naming our writer Doc McNamee, inspired by my Shakespeare teacher and mentor Dr. Laurence McNamee, and one of the most influential people in my life after my parents. He was a wonderful, encouraging teacher, who inspired all who knew him to go out, be creative, and approach life as focused and unafraid as possible, making your own metaphorical "backpack" and working on your set of tools to do so. There were so many facets of Doc--interpreter during World War II, Shakespeare expert, boxing aficionado AND columnist for the Dallas Morning News, writer of the popular column, "A Few Words"... one doesn't even know where to start...

Except to say, "Thanks Doc for everything."

Although the "Doc" in the book is not him, his spirit is certainly present.

Along the way, we were blessed to be joined by amazing cover artist, the incomparable Michael Golden--Co-Creator of X-Men's Rogue character, Bucky O'Hare, Spartan X, and much more. One of the best storytellers in any business, and a superb designer. I know that when I was an editor, I hired him to do practically all my book covers. We are thrilled to have him providing the frontage here!

So, now in 2010, "Kerry and the Scary Things" gets a face lift, a fresh coat of paint, and a rewrite through my older eyes, and he's presented to you here after a long and winding road. The treatment has a retro feel-- almost like a coloring book when we are finally trying to stay within the lines, reminding me of recent lazy afternoons coloring Spiderman with my great-nephews Ryan and Randall on my Mom's kitchen table. The intent is full of nostalgia. The story, well...

If there is any "point" to the fun and hijinks that ensue in the story, other than the journey, I suppose it would be to encourage, to use your imagination, you creative kids you, of all ages.

It's the strongest tool there is, and unique just to you. Just ask Kerry!

--Renee Witterstaetter
New York City

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