I’m a big fan of Rilla Alexander’s work, so I was super excited to hear about her new book, Her Idea. Through beautiful illustrations and fun rhymes Rilla chronicles the journey of a little girl named Sozi who struggles to put her concepts into reality. Although the story is presented in a picture book format, I’m hesitant to call this a “children’s book” as I believe the message resonates with all of us. This tale is especially timely as many of us are seeking to change our procrastinating ways as part of our new year’s resolutions.
In this interview, Rilla shares the inspiration for the book and some of the challenges she faced along the way. Here we go!
What inspired you to create this book?
My own love of and struggle with ideas and inspiration. The story is about being full of ideas….but finding that it’s not always all that easy to make them happen. It’s about procrastination and self-doubt but…ultimately…how to finish something.
Actually, maybe it’s a creative self-help book in picture book form!
What were some of the obstacles/challenges that you faced along the way?
This is not the first Sozi book I have written. Eight years ago I completed the story and final sketches for an entire book…but I wasn’t entirely convinced that I’d nailed it. I showed too many people and worried too much about what they thought. So I put it in the bottom of my drawer.
After procrastinating long and hard (mainly by dreaming up other projects to do, but also by moving from one side of the world to the other) I eventually decided that the only way I was going to get beyond this was to start again and follow that first great rule of writing: Write about what you know.
How long did it take to develop the Sozi character? Is there any meaning behind her name?
When I was very little I was given a not-all-that-attractive plastic doll called Suzy. I immediately dubbed her “Sozi” but no-one ever said her name right (it rhymes with Ozzy) or spelt it correctly (it’s not Sozy). Most everyone got my name wrong too, so we were inseparable.
All those years later there wasn’t really any question what my alter-ego would be called.
Right from the beginning I made her as a rag-doll and my first drawings were based on those first dolls. My mother and my sister and I made toys, and I drew my heart out and it was an inspiring and exciting time.
In what ways did the initial concepts differ from the finished book?
The unfinished book is about searching for home. As it turns out I still haven’t gotten to the bottom of that which is precisely why I couldn’t get the ending right.
In addition to the book, Sozi prints and dolls are available at Sozi.com.
Many thanks to Rilla for taking time out of her day to share with grain edit readers. You can pick up a copy of Her Idea at Sozi.com as well as Colette, Victionary and Pictoplasma. Prints, toys, figures and wool dolls are also available.
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