After finishing Tales For Your Monkey’s Mind, I decided that the book should be illustrated. I did not realize this decision would take me on a journey that would last three-and-a-half years. I had a specific idea of what scenes I wanted illustrated, and the style I wanted to use. When I was a child I loved the illustrations in the black and white Grimm’s Fairy Tale Anthologies and Alice In Wonderland. I was also fascinated by Shel Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends. The stories in Tales For Your Monkey’s Mind were written to be timeless, and I thought black and white line drawn illustrations would be perfect. So I took this idea and went off in search of an illustrator, not realizing how difficult it would be to find one.
I created a world in which my stories would exist. The world has a certain feeling and look to it, and I needed someone that could see, and then draw, my world. Over the next two-and-a-half years I went through three illustrators, one of which illustrated half the book. But the illustrations never matched the style I was trying to create, or the world I was trying to present.
Just as I was considering the possibility of publishing Tales For Your Monkey’s Mind without illustrations, I was at Starbucks and a man asked me why I was pulling my hair out of my head (true story). I told him that I was having no luck in finding an illustrator for my book, and he told me that he knew of one– and that was the moment my luck changed, and how I met Tom Fee.
Tom Fee had illustrated a few children’s books, including a book by R.L Stine. We talked about the themes in my book, and the style I wanted for the illustrations. We decided to give it a try, and after he drew an illustration for “A One Day For Little Fey,” I knew I had found my illustrator. It was perfect. It was just as I had imagined. So I hired him. Then we spent the next year working on the book’s illustration style. It wasn’t easy. We wanted to create something different, something memorable. Something the reader would turn back to look at again and again.
At some point in the process Tom said that the project went from being a “job” to being a “labor of love.” He was moved by the themes in each story and wanted to help me bring them to life. Because of this, his illustrations went above and beyond anything I could have hoped for. There were even times when I looked at a new illustration and said, “It’s better than I imagined.”
Since then Tom and I finished illustrating More Tales For Your Monkey’s Mind, and are in the process of illustrating Tales From Bombast’s Bookshelf (my third book in the “Monkey Mind Tales Series”). The illustrations keep getting better and more detailed as we move forward, and the third book is going to be nothing short of beautiful.
I feel so lucky to have found not only a talented illustrator, but also someone who believes in my books and believes in me.
For more information about Tom Fee visit: http://monkeymindtales.com/tom_fee_illustrator.html