• Rachel DiNunzio

Where Do Ideas For Books Come From?

How did I get the idea for Chameleon Cat?? What came first: the story or the concept?

After seeing a finished product like a children's book, it is easy to think that the creator simply woke up one day with a vision of a finished form and then just made it. If only it were so simple!

The truth of the matter is that any creative pursuit (whether it is a book, a painting, a line of ceramics, or a piece of furniture) travels a complicated and uncharted road to creation.

If you have heard me talk about the book creation process before you would have heard me say, “Creating a book is like making a couple thousand tiny decisions whose sum is the final solution.” No one is telling you what to decide or what order to make decisions in: it is up to you, the creator to figure it out. I think that this explanation holds true for almost any creative process. Herein lies the challenges of creativity: it takes persistence, focus, time and determination to see the idea through from concept into existence. But even before we talk about the process, we must talk about the origins of the creation: the idea.

So, how did I get the idea for Chameleon Cat? To answer this question I've got to dig a little further in order to explain what makes up, well, me! Here we go...

I love animals. Since I was tiny, my favorite animal has always been a cat: Me + kitties = happiness. I have been surrounded by cats since I was born, I have a connection with them: they understand me and I understand them. To this day, an important part of my day is getting some kitty snuggle time.

When I was probably seven or eight, I had a particular interest in lizards. Now, if my mom is reading this she might laugh a bit at the words particular interest: maybe a small obsession would be a better way to describe my interest in these reptiles. My mom would take me to the library and I would take out all of the books that I could find on lizards, look through the books, draw from the images, read the facts, have to go back to the library to renew the books… rinse and repeat.

After a lot of research, my mom was even kind enough to allow me get my very own lizard. This was one of those BEST DAY EVER! moments as a kid. After assessing my options, I ended up taking home a lizard called a Snyder Skink— a gorgeous desert lizard who we learned very early on only liked to do one thing: bury himself in the sand from nose to tail and sleep. Yes, most of the time Snyder’s tank looked like we were keeping up hot sand and nothing more. Needless to say he wasn’t the most exciting pet but I thought he was the coolest nonetheless.

A summer or so later, we ended up with a tank of anoles. My brother and his friends won a bunch of these little guys from a local fair, and my mom (the hero of our neighborhood for taking care of any creature in need) took them all in. What a woman. These lizards were gorgeous! Anoles are similar to chameleons-- they change beautiful colors!

Fast forward a few more years when I was at school studying children’s book illustration that the idea came to me. At the time I was studying character development and I was experimenting with different color techinqies in my drawings exposing the subtleties of light and color on different textures, materials and surfaces. I suppose my love for animals, my studies, and my love for color provided the perfect storm for the idea for Chameleon Cat to form. I wanted to draw a cat character and apply non-traditional colors. And it came to me— what if a cat could turn colors like a chameleon?!?

Even as an adult this idea exicted me! One of the women I used to work with (who is now a great friend) once said to me, “You know, when I first met you I only knew you as professional and relatively serious, but the more I get to know you, I realize that you are kind of just a giant child!” Yes, my friend, this is true and there is a reason for this. You are the master of your own mind and I challenge myself to keep my mind focused on very specific things.

See, creativity expands as far as your own imagination and motivations allow it too. Your ideas are product of the mental environment that you create. Ask yourself, what are you attracted to? What motivates you? What are you trying to discover? What makes you feel a spark of happiness when you think about it? If you surround yourself with negativity and limit yourself mentally— your mind will exist within the walls that you have createdfor yourself. If you surround yourself with openness, inspiration, and productive positive thinking: than ideas will come.

I am attracted to kindness, sunshine, warmth, appreciating the simple things, and love to figure out how to create things out of nothing. I am motivated by the constant challenge to do no harm, to make people smile, to be the change I wish to see, to surround myself with important people in my life. I try to execute these goals through what I create. Allow yourself to have ideas and they will come. Ideas are there only if you welcome them to be.

This is my long way of answering, “Where did you get the idea for Chameleon Cat?” See, ideas are a part of who you are. Chameleon Cat was a spark of imagination that excited me. The more I spent time with this idea, the more I worked to get to know it, the more it became what it is today: a book about not being afraid to stand out and be yourself.

Read Chameleon Cat for free now: http://www.radishlane.com

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