This chilly Halloween morning, we welcome author Adam Lehrhaupt to the cafe! Adam spoke at Fall Philly recently, he’s got new books on the way, and he’s basically just fun to hang out with. So, he’s here to talk books and life and The Death Saw. Make sure to say hi to Adam in the comments, and check out his web site, too! Oh, yay! I hear the door jingling!
Lindsay: Hey there Adam, and welcome to the Eastern Penn Points Cafe! As we settle into our cozy booth, what can we get you to drink?
Adam: Ooh! This IS a comfy booth. Very nice. I’m a big fan of the artwork.
Starting off with the tough questions I see. Okay, I’ll have a coffee.
Ah! Not tea. It’s fall. How about a cider? Hot, please.
Lindsay: Cider is perfect for Halloween, so let’s make that two. Now, something to munch?
Adam: This one’s a bit easier. I’ll have a slice of pie. Pecan.
Lindsay: Yasss. Cider and pie. Mmmm…..
Congrats on your latest book release, I WILL NOT EAT YOU! It looks great, as evidenced by the book trailer Hey, everyone, watch the book trailer while Adam and I eat our pie!
Lindsay: Much like Zoey, from your previous book, CHICKEN IN SPACE, you’ve had some pretty awesome adventures. If you could pack up for a do-over, where would you go again?
Adam: Yay! Fun! We’re going on an adventure!!!
There’s lots of places I really enjoyed. Bueno Aires, Tokyo, Moscow. But, for this adventure…where would I go?
I love Tahoe. That would be Lake Tahoe. It’s half in California and half in Nevada. I lived on the Cali side. It’s the better one. Mostly because I lived there, but also because my truck once broke down on the Nevada side. So I’m biased against it.
Tahoe is a 4 season resort area. Boating, swimming, camping and fishing in the summer; biking, hiking and more camping in the fall; skiing, snowboarding, telemarking (a ski sport, not the annoying telephone people) and snowmobiling in the winter; and biking, hiking, fishing, boating, and even more camping in the spring. So much to do. Plus, there’s a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Picturesque. I recommend a trip to anyone who’s never been. Lots of adventures to be had there.
Lindsay: How have your other adventures influenced your picture books?
Adam: I like to write from my own life experiences. For instance, the monkeys in WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK and PLEASE, OPEN THIS BOOK are based on real monkeys I met in Roatán, Honduras. We stayed at this really cool resort where they let these monkeys run around free. And those monkeys were naughty. They caused all kinds of chaos. Like kids hyped up on candy. After a few days of having my sunglasses, food, and beverages stolen by these simian troublemakers, I began wondering what would happen if I put them inside a book. Would they get out? Would they destroy things? Would they find friends in there? It was a lot of fun. And it never would have happened if I hadn’t gone to Roatán.
Lindsay: I know you have two sons, so which was more challenging, working on a kibbutz or caring for a newborn human?
Adam: Hands down working on a kibbutz is easier. Each day I would check the work chart and see what I needed to do. When I was done, I could go off and do whatever I wanted. With kids, as many of you know, you’re never done. It’s tough work sometimes, but it’s also the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
Lindsay: You’ve currently got four picture books out, with I DON’T DRAW, I COLOR coming out March 21, 2017 (look, everyone, here’s the beautiful cover!)
and a bunch more on the way. Can you tell us a little bit about working with your illustrators? Any tips for using illustrator notes or positive author/illustrator collaboration?
Adam: I’ve been super lucky with the illustrators I’ve been able to work with. Such amazing and talented people. Interestingly, the collaborative process has been very different with each. With my first book I didn’t even see the illustrations until they were done. I’ve heard similar stories from other first time authors. And even though I didn’t have much input into the art, I was very happy with what my illustrator, Matt Forsythe, did. For the second book Matt and I were able to discuss ideas together before I ever wrote a word. Then, I didn’t hear much until the art was again almost done, at which time I was able to provide some thoughts. With Scott Magoon on I WILL NOT EAT YOU it was a bit different. I think there was a more collaborative environment every step of the way and I feel like we were encouraged to play off each other. Lastly, for CHICKEN IN SPACE I was able to provide a lot of input into Shahar Kober’s illustrations as we went along. They didn’t always use my ideas, but they at least listened to anything I said and discussed it.
I use art notes liberally while writing my drafts. But, as with text edits, I go through and trim out any that don’t further the story or add something important. I try to leave the illustrator a lot of room to make the story theirs as well as mine. I’ve been rewarded time and time again for doing that. One great example is how Matt interpreted my art note (They spill the ink) in WARNING: DO NOT OPEN THIS BOOK. Instead of a giant black mess he has the monkeys painting their own jungle world. I was floored with how awesome his interpretation was.
My suggestions for a good collaboration is to respect the person you are working with. They can add some genius ideas to your story. Things you’ve never even considered. Be open to their ideas and thoughts. To the possibility that their illustrations might take your story in a different direction than you at first thought. Everyone’s goal is to make the best book possible. If you work together as a team, that’s what you’ll end up with.
An idea pops into your head. How many times do you usually write and re-write before it becomes a book?
Adam: Lots. I estimate that for I WILL NOT EAT YOU I rewrote it around 25 times. Sometimes it was as simple as changing a few words, or punctuation. Other times it was a whole new direction for the narrative. And a few times I made edits because Scott’s art was so awesome it gave me a great idea for adapting the text. I try to always be open to revision. As I mentioned above, everyone’s goal is to make the best book possible. Sometimes that means changing things. At the last minute. In a rush. But that’s okay. If it makes the book better, it’s worth it.
Lindsay: And now for rapid-fire favorites! Adam, quickly now, tell us your favorite…..
Brand of conditioner
Aussie 3 minute miracle
David Copperfield trick
Death Saw. I used to pull the top half of David off the bottom. I even got to do it once on David Letterman.
Band to tour with (doing lights)
The Allman Brothers Band
Funny expression said by one of your sons
My little guy comes up with funny stuff all the time. I usually post them online. But his brother had this gem when I asked him what he does if someone makes fun of him for being short. The Boy: “I say, ‘You’re tall…and that’s not a compliment.’”
Chocolate Chip Cookies. Soft ones.
Lindsay: Thanks so much for stopping by to hang out with us, Adam! Keep us posted about your new releases, and don’t be a stranger around here! We’ve got an endless supply of snacks.
Adam: Thank you so much for letting me hang. This pie was delicious. I’ll gladly stop back for another slice.