Developing characters for a story can take many twists and turns before finding candidates that seem just right. I’ve been working on two toads for a few years and they’ve gone through an evolution to become who they are in my newest book, Backroads, Country Toads.
From early character studies, where the names were Chet and Roy to later sketches, where they became Hank and Buckeroo, the two TOADS were heading for their future debut, published by Sleeping Bear Press.
Here is a peek at the making of two toad-ally awesome characters from that story.
When I started playing around with two toad characters, I imagined that they were country toads, pickin’ and grinnin’, fishing and living the country life. I grew up with my Dad’s Buck Owens and the Buckeroos music on the record player. I had a Hank Williams guitar song book and a brand new Gibson J-45 guitar that I received for Christmas so these toads were coming from a special place in my childhood.
I saw them as a duo, a couple of best buddies sharing some good times that didn’t always go as planned. I even had a few ideas for stories but they turned out to be better ideas, than stories. So, I reached out to someone who could give the toads some good stories. Someone who would share that country vibe and add the humor that these two toads needed to land on the pages of a picture book.
The guy who came to mind was Devin Scillian. He has a great sense of humor and is an excellent story teller. He’s a pro with words and even writes country music songs, that he performs with his guitar. It doesn’t get any better than that. Perfect! We talked about the toads and the chance to work together to bring them to life. Devin and I have worked on several books, including Memoirs of a Goldfish, Memoirs of a Hamster and our newest collaboration, Memoirs of a Tortoise (coming in 2020). He came up with the fly fishing story and as usual, hit the ball out of the park! Just what we needed to launch the Country Toads. Sleeping Bear Press agreed and the Country Toads were hopping into their first book.
Hank and Buckeroo are a great duo but coming in a close second would be Scillian and Bowers. I think those combinations are TOAD-ALLY awesome!