I have just finished a novel project that I worked on for a year, from Spring of 2016 to Spring of 2017. And part of my personal project procedure involves using drawings to help me visualize the characters in the story and begin to view them as real people, even when they most certainly aren’t real. I even have this derfy Mickian idea that Paffoonies (those picture ideas that are inseparably fused to words) are essential to Mickian fiction. (Mickian fiction= another frighteningly goofy idea that needs to go unexplained.)
The book, Recipes for Gingerbread Children is about an old woman, a German immigrant and Holocaust survivor, who comes to a small Iowa town with a gift for story-telling and a gift for baking things, especially gingerbread cookies.
Grandma Gretel Stein, seen in the Paffooney on the left, is the main character of the story. She tells stories, mostly fairy tales, that have lessons about being true and faithful even in the face of great evil. The fairy in her hand is General Tuffaney Swift, an immortal Storybook fairy who leads the army of the local fairy kingdom called Tellosia. Gretel believes he is real Honestly, she gets so into story-telling that her fairy friends seem absolutely real to her. And who is to say that there aren’t little magical people living in a hidden kingdom among the cornfields in Iowa? Gretel convinced me that they were real. She even has a hand in making new fairies by the baking of gingerbread. She gets a magical recipe from the fairy Erlking, a wise and magical being, and uses it to create living gingerbread boys and gingerbread girls.
The gingerbread girl on the right is Anneliese, named after Gretel’s own daughter and decorated with frosting, food coloring, and gumdrops by the favorite story listener who constantly listens to Gretel’s stories and helps bake Gretel’s gingerbread, Sherry Cobble.
Sherry is a beautiful young eighth grade girl who reminds Gretel of her long-lost daughter. Sherry has a twin sister named Shelly and they are identical twins, but Sherry not only looks like Anneliese once did, she acts like her with the same confidence and enthusiasm for life that Anneliese once had before the war.
Sherry and Shelly are both part of the Cobble family, who have a reputation locally as wacky-pants loonies because they believe firmly in being nudists and engaging in nature completely naked while not actually wearing any wacky pants. I haven’t done any actual pictures of Sherry in the nude, but if you look carefully at the first picture of her above and see clothing, then you are seeing things that are not there. Yep, the girl bakes and decorates gingerbread men in the buff, wearing her pale pink birthday suit, even when the weather outside in Iowa makes that nonsensical.
So by now you can probably draw several conclusions about me as both a novelist and an illustrator. #1, There is definitely something a little bit off about me. #2, I haven’t said anything yet about this book having dead Nazis and a werewolf in it, even though I rarely talk about this book without throwing those things in somewhere. #3, Number 2 is actually taken care of in a backhanded way if you are reading this whole list carefully. #4, This story is probably about things that really aren’t just gingerbread recipes. #5, You should congratulate yourself if you read this far in this post. You have unusual amounts of patience and curiosity, and an extremely high tolerance for levels of goofy that put actual Goofy to shame.