Interview with up-and-coming literary starlet – Gabby!

Joyce and Gabby interview; by Jan Dolby, based on a photo by Robert Gagnon

Joyce Grant and Gabby take a time-out from their lunch to chat about their upcoming book – and Gabby’s fabulous hair; illustration by Jan Dolby, based in part on a photo by Robert Gagnon.

Gabby is the main character in Joyce Grant’s new children’s picture book (illustrated by Jan Dolby and published by Fitzhenry & Whiteside). She recently agreed to chat with Joyce Grant about the new venture.

JG: Gabby—may I call you that?—it’s so wonderful to talk to you in person. After all, you’ve been in my head for so long.

G: My full name is Gabriella, but almost no one calls me that so please do call me Gabby. And yes, it’s great to finally be out of there—it was a bit cramped.

JG: Well, there’s lots of other stuff in there and I won’t apologize for that.

G: Streetcars? Chefs?

JG: Right. Sorry about that. They’re from a couple of other books I’m working on. They’ll be gone soon—I hope. But let’s talk about your book. You’re the star! Are you excited?

G: It is exciting! I was especially thrilled when our editor, Christie, suggested naming the book after me. I can’t wait to see my name on the cover.

JG: And your picture, too! Would it surprise you to know that your name was nearly Sarah?

G: What?!

JG: Well, when I first wrote the book it was called, “Sarah Makes Friends,” after a girl I know. And then Christie and Cathy (from the publisher) met with me for a coffee at Starbucks and we discussed other names. You were also nearly Fanny!

G: I’m speechless. I’m so clearly “Gabby.”

JG: Yes, I agree. And part of the reason for that is that Gabby is kind of a quirky name. Would you say you are quirky?

G: People call me that, certainly. I think they mean that I sometimes look at things a little differently. And I do agree with that.

JG: Can you give us an example?

G: It’s mostly about letters and words. For instance, you’re wearing a T-shirt. So I’m asking, “What does the T stand for? Is it ‘Tea shirt’—like one you’d wear while you’re drinking tea? (It would account for that stain, Joyce.) Or is it a Tee-shirt like you’d wear on a golf course? I mean, what’s the T for?”

JG: Well that certainly is a unique perspective. Oh, here’s our appetizer.

G: Alphabet soup—my favourite! Letters you can eat. How perfect is that?

Alphabet_soup by strawberryblues; Wikimedia Commons

Alphabet_soup image by strawberryblues; Wikimedia Commons

JG: Yes, stop playing with it, though. You’re getting it all over the…

G: See, if you put these letters together…

JG: Gabby, you’re splashing soup everywhere!

G: …just need another L for G-a-b-r-i-e-l-l-a

JG: Gabby, can we please talk about something else? I just love your signature red hair. It’s so “you.”

G: Thank you. And I don’t even have a stylist. I just get up in the morning and stick it in ribbons… really I just let it do whatever it wants. In fact, that’s my attitude towards life in general. Go with the flow.

JG: It certainly seems to work for you.

G: Yes. How else could I get two warring species to become friends?

JG: Now, Gabby, don’t spoil the ending for people!

G: Hey, it’s not every day a kid helps to thwart thousands of years of evolution.

JG:Thwart”? You do love words, don’t you?

G: Speaking of words, look at what I’m spelling in my alphabet soup!*

JG: Gabby, I think this interview is just about over, don’t you? Is there anything you’d like to say in conclusion?

G: Well, just buy my book, please.

JG: Well, it’s your book and it’s my book and Jan’s book and Fitzhenry & Whiteside’s book. In any case, this seems like a good note to end on. Thank you very much, Gabby.

G: Thank you. And you just ended a sentence with a preposition, Joyce.

JG: On which to end, then. Gabby—stop splashing!

G: G’bye!

JG: G’bye!

* “Fitzhenry.” She spelled Fitzhenry.

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Stuffed letters–great for literacy

Letters for Gabby

These fabric letters will be used during my book readings. Tactile letters of any kind are great for young readers to help them connect with words.

Just finished sewing some stuffed fabric letters that I’ll use as props when I do book readings for Gabby.

A local wedding dress designer donated some fabric (including some raw silk – check out the J!) and my friend Jane is helping me stuff the letters; I still need a few more.

They’ll be fun for kids to throw around and put together into words, just like Gabby does.

Playing with letters–whether they’re Scrabble tiles, letter dice like the ones in Jr. Boggle or these stuffed letters–gets kids interacting with words and is a great first step in the literacy process.

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Layouts!

My editor sent the layouts for Gabby!

Gabby layoutsI’d seen bits and pieces along the way, but seeing it all together (minus the cover and the end notes) was very exciting.

I was out of town on vacation when the email came through; I sent the file to my local copy shop so they could print a couple of colour copies for me to pick up on Monday morning.

It looks even better than I could have hoped. Jan Dolby has done an extremely thoughtful job, illustrating “between the words.” When I wrote the manuscript I took out some descriptive lines that I had thought might handcuff the illustrator. I wanted her to feel free to go her own way, creatively. And boy, did she!

Readers will love some of Jan’s little jokes and ongoing features–like the tiny frog who hides on every page. Kids love reading books again and again; having hidden illustrations and jokes makes reading the book an ongoing discovery not only for kids but for the grown-ups reading it with them.

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“Gabby” to be published Nov. 2012

In just a few months, Gabby will be published!

Writing a picture book is an exciting process and through this blog I hope to bring you into the loop.

For instance, many people think that your manuscript needs to include both words and illustrations. While it’s true there are some writer/illustrators, in my case — and in the majority of cases — the publisher chooses the illustrator for you.

My editor from Fitzhenry & Whiteside Publishing chose the perfect illustrator for this book. In my head, Gabby was irreverent, quirky, confident and likeable. Jan Dolby (check out her blog here) captured Gabby’s nature perfectly.

Gabby; illustration by Jan Dolby

Illustration by Jan Dolby.

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