Wednesday, August 3, 2016

When Good Eggplants Go Bad (...and other tales of technical woes) by Deborah Cuneo

I don't know about anyone else, but this last few months have been especially challenging. Between kids leaving the nest, family health issues and a reboot on my book, I've been operating at a higher stress level and pace than normal. Unfortunately, real life goes on no matter what disasters are happening around you and there didn't seem to be any relief in sight, so I did what all of us do...worked right through it, cause' we're all professionals, right? (flashback to David Wiesner at njscbwi).  And for a while, I was able to successfully juggle it all and bury my stress in my art.

Burying the Prize - Pencil Sketch

Part of my "therapy"  was working out the palette for the book and spending countless, grueling hours teaching myself how to use my new digital tools. I was now ready to bring my color vision to life for Little Dragon!

 I felt a tremendous sense of satisfaction from the accomplishment  and that had almost completely balanced out all the stress from my personal life... when somewhere between finishing the final sketches and right before turning in the final cover art, the Earth must have shifted its rotation, causing a permanent state of full moon. Out of nowhere, my cover art and almost all my new tools, completely disappeared from my computer.  The ones that remained, well, any time I would select them, they would shut down Photoshop and destroy the file I was working on. Did I mention that the cover art was due the following week?  <Insert stress here!>

MINE! - Pencil Sketch

My hubby, who never met a mechanical or technical device he wasn't able to fix, was more than a bit baffled and no quick fix was in sight.  Panic set in! So what do you do when months of developing digital tools have completely left the universe and the art is due in a few days?  You take a breath, regroup, say lots of prayers and recreate the tools......"old school!!!

Creating Textures

I have to say, it was quite therapeutic  to use all my organic art tools again, after a year of focusing on digital. I didn't realize just how much I missed them.   After a couple of days of work, I was able to recreate pretty close to what  was lost in the computer and  the act of doing so, put my mind back in balance. I also found another way to use the two media together , which made me very happy and I'm thinking that in the end,  the art for the book may be better for having the experience (maybe that was the master plan all along???). 

Life...or at least kid lit, book life, was all good again... and quite randomly, as mysteriously as the programs and the computer in general , stopped working... it all went back to normal and I made my deadline! < insert sun shining and angels singing here!

From the book: Little Dragon - Sky Pony Press 2017

So, how do eggplants work into all of this?  During one of the days that I was having a bit of an internal, meltdown over the situation, I decided to go to the local farm stand, get veggies for dinner and just try to clear my head. Starring at all the colors and textures of the produce that's out this time of year, is quite inspiring!

 I began to make my way through the little marketplace and I happened to notice all these beautiful eggplants to one side of the wooden bins. On the other side, two eggplants that were every bit as fresh (just a little weird looking) caught my eye. They were seemingly cast off to the other side, rejected, in favor of the new, shinier eggplants.

I decided against eggplant for dinner and started to walk away, but my heart went out to the two rejects. I wondered what would happen to those poor vegetables after being cast  aside like that. Do they start hanging out  with the wrong eggplants and turn to a life of eggplant crime?...what was their story? So, I created a little photo shoot ( yes, right in the middle of the crowded farm stand) to highlight the heartbreaking reality of what happens when good eggplants go bad.

("The Meeting") When Good Eggplants go Bad   By Deborah Cuneo
When Good Eggplants go Bad  By Deborah Cuneo


  1. I can't wait to get my copy of "Little Dragon"when it's released to bookstores! This story about it's creation makes it that much sweeter. Your tale of "Good Eggplants Gone Bad" cracked me up, it so YOU!! And that's a wonderful thing. ;O)

  2. Thanks Lisa, I am looking forward to seeing it in print as well! The eggplants grounded me on a day that I was at my most stressed. I felt after that good deed, they deserved their 15 min of fame !!