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It's the book birthday of Sunday Rain, a celebration of books and reading and the power of the imagination! We're delighted to have the brilliant author and illustrator Rosie J. Pova and Amariah Rauscher here on the blog to give us some stories behind the scenes. Let's dive in!
On the writing
Amariah: Hi Rosie, I love this book! It was a pleasure to be able to illustrate the words of such a talented author. I could easily come up with a hundred questions for you, but in the interest of time I will only give you my top five.
Rosie: That's so kind of you to say, thank you, Amariah! And I am grateful to have been paired with such a talented illustrator who created a delightful world for my story! The words and art married quite well for sure.
Amariah: Is the main character, Elliott, based on someone you know in real life?
Rosie: The idea for the story came to me based on a childhood memory of me playing in the summer rain, but then it took its own direction and became very different. However, Elliott does have some of the same personality traits I did as a child: I was a very shy introvert who loved reading and daydreaming, and that was always my escape. So I guess he's based on me.
Amariah: My favorite part of the illustration process was the pencil sketch phase. As an author, what was your favorite or most satisfying part of writing Sunday Rain?
Rosie: My favorite and most satisfying part of writing this story was that I was able to achieve the feel and tone I was going for from the very start. My intention was for the text to be lyrical and cozy, but also engaging and a great read-aloud, and I hope I've accomplished all that for the readers as well.
Amariah: How did you come up with the concept for Sunday Rain? Did you have a flash of inspiration where you suddenly envisioned the story, or did it slowly unfold as you worked on it?
Rosie: As I mentioned above, it's based on a childhood memory in which I was soaking wet, playing in the warm summer rain. But that flashback only served as the spark for the story. From there, it didn't adhere to the real life memory. Rather, I had a name and a character in my head, Elliott, and I wondered what he was doing when the rain first started. Then I asked myself more questions: What did he hear? Where was he? Why couldn't he go out and play with the kids? And so, slowly, the story unfolded and took shape.
Amariah: When you look at the final illustrations are there any surprises or unexpected elements that you hadn’t imagined as you worked on the words of the book?
Rosie: Yes! There were many surprises and wonderful unexpected elements! I'll mention just a few... For example, I was surprised to see that Elliott had a cat, which was not in the text. So that was very cool!
Also, I didn't imagine him having a toy boat to carry outside, but when I saw that in the art, it made perfect sense that he would. Of course!
Another thing was that I had a solid image in my head about the way his sharkies (rain boots) looked and it was that they were grey, and each boot was a single shark like its face is looking at you with its mouth open -- kind of like those animal slippers... But then I was quite surprised to see the way you've interpreted that in the art and the boots were white and had multiple colorful sharks on them! That was probably the biggest surprise for me because it didn't even occur to me that the boots could look any different from what was in my head, lol. But they are quite lovely!
Amariah: Is the final draft of Sunday Rain very different from the first draft?
Rosie: This story is actually, by far, the one I've revised the least, which rarely happens and it's highly unusual. So, the final draft is pretty close to the original. But the little revisions that I made, especially the ones after acquisitions that Alice, my editor at Lantana, suggested -- just a few simple tweaks -- transformed the story tremendously! I absolutely loved the changes she suggested and I'm thrilled that she saw more layers and potential in the story, and her vision elevated it so much more!
It truly feels like Sunday Rain has found its rightful home and the perfect illustrator, and I couldn't be happier about that!
On the illustrations
Rosie: Hi Amariah, I am so truly happy with the way this book turned out, and I am so grateful that my story was paired with your adorable art because the final product is a dream come true! It's so exciting to finally share our book with the world!(I adore the cover!!!) There are so many things I'd like to know about your process working on the book and the behind-the-scenes from your perspective, so I can't wait to hear your insight. Here's my first burning question...
What made you say yes to illustrating my story? Why did you decide to take on this project and what made it a good fit for you?
Amariah: I said yes because of the dragon and because I related to Elliott. Reading and books were a major part of my childhood. We didn’t have a television for many years of my childhood. Plus I’m an extreme introvert so I get how it feels to want to be inside and do your own thing. That said, I love that Elliott uses his imagination to help him gain the courage to venture outside and make new friends.
Rosie: I can totally relate to Elliott for the same reasons you mentioned! How interesting that all three of us are introverted bookworms who'd rather be inside doing our own thing! My next question is actually a series of questions...
What was your process like after reading the entire manuscript?
Do you start illustrating from the beginning and move forward or do you work on the spreads out of order?
How did you decide on the palette for this particular story?
Also, what was your favorite spread to work on and why?
Amariah: When working on sketches I work on the spreads that I am sure about first. For some spreads I don’t readily have an idea in my head of how I want it to look so I save those for later. I chose blue-grey as the palette because it has a rainy day feel to it. I then used pops of color to draw the eye and keep it from being too drab.
My favorite spread is definitely the one that shows the kids on an island and Elliott catching a raindrop on his tongue. It has such a magical after-the-rain feel to it.
Rosie: That makes sense, yes -- I, too, sometimes work on the parts of a story I know for sure and then fill in the parts in between. And that is totally my favorite spread, too! It's amazing! Okay, here's a question that authors ask a lot and want to hear about from illustrators: Do you like seeing some art notes from the author or do you prefer not to have any at all?
Amariah: I like having “soft notes”- notes that are not written in stone. That way if I am stuck or unsure what the author’s intention is I can go to the note. But I also like to be able to go in my own direction if I have an idea of my own.
Rosie: That sounds perfect! I like the idea of "soft notes" and that's what I'm going to call them from now on. Here's something else I'm curious about and I can say that there was not an illustration note from me about it at all: In the text, there's no mentioning of a family pet, but the art shows Elliott has a grey cat. What made you decide on a cat vs. a dog or an iguana, for example?
Amariah: Sunday Rain is about a boy who is shy and a reader. I chose a cat because most cats are lower energy and sleepier. A dog would have been too high energy and would not have matched the tone of the book. A more exotic animal would have been a distraction and would have taken away from the flow of the book.
Rosie: That reasoning is so true, I completely agree with you, and I'm glad you've made that conscious decision. That goes for the whole book, too -- there's so much attention to detail and I could tell every single detail was created with great care and consideration! Thank you for that! And my final question, what do you hope people reading our book would feel or take away from it?
Amariah: After reading this book I hope that any children like Elliott who are on the shy side feel a bit braver about going out and making friends. I also hope that children who are not so shy understand shyness a bit better.
Rosie: It was great chatting with you, Amariah, and thank you so much for answering my questions! I'm glad I had this opportunity to hear your behind-the-scenes stories and again, I'm grateful for having this book with you.
Thank you, Rosie and Amariah, for sharing your creative processes with us!
Check out the book trailer below, then visit our Instagram where Amariah shares some lovely draw-along and craft videos throughout this week!
Rosie J. Pova is a Bulgaria-born, US-based children's author and school presenter whose mission is to inspire kids to believe in themselves, dream big, and follow their passions. Learn more about her books on rosiejpova.com or follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Amariah Rauscher lives in Illinois with her family. She holds an MA in Communication. She is the illustrator of the popular Princess Truly series. When she isn’t painting, Amariah can usually be found reading a book. Visit amariahrauscher.com to see more of her magical illustrations or follow her on Instagram.