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Author and Illustrator chat about The Magic Ticket

In most cases, a children’s book is written by the author, the author is fortunate enough to find a publisher, and then the publisher assigns an illustrator to the project. But in the case of THE MAGIC TICKET , the author, David Hicks, first wrote a deeply personal, autobiographical story, then approached his talented friend Kateri Kramer to see if she was interested in illustrating it. The two then collaborated on the book, shaping and revising it together based on their shared ideas, and then approached the publisher together with the finished product. And it worked! Fulcrum Books is publishing it in July of this year.

Here the author and illustrator talk about their unusually collaborative process:

(Kateri:) You’ve primarily written adult fiction and taught adult creative writing classes. What was the catalyst for The Magic Ticket and how was the process for writing a picture book different?

(David:) Same kind of catalyst, very different process. :-) My stories and novels, while fiction, are all based on something that happened to me, an event or encounter that changed me in some way, small or big. That’s no different for this children’s book, which is based on the biggest thing that happened to me, which is that when I was a boy, my sister died suddenly, in the middle of the night, and my family, along with my view of myself, my very being, was forever changed. But the difference in this event, and thus in the process of writing it, is that it was too big for me to get a handle on it. That’s why I’d been avoiding it. In order to write it, therefore, I had to make it really simple. So I reverted to a formula, a lesson I teach my students about story structure: Once upon a time . . . . Then, one day . . . .

So I decided to use this structure to write about the most formative event of my childhood, as a starting point: Once upon a time there was a boy who lived in a very happy household with a loving mom, a kindhearted dad, a big brother he admired, and a little sister he adored. Then, one dark night, his sister died. And there it was, my story, in its simplest form. I then set about filling it out–it could be a memoir or novel–I figured. Then again, I thought, I could keep it simple, and it might have more power that way. So I tried it as a children’s story, even though I didn’t know the first thing about writing a children’s story.

“Then again, I thought, I could keep it simple, and it might have more power that way.”

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