I’m excited to talk to Lori Degman & Jocelyn Watkinson
about their NEW picture book,
Travel Guide for Monsters, Part Deux –a Canadian Adventure
(Sleeping Bear / Illus. Marcus Cutler) which released April 15th!
Did we say PART DEUX?
A giggly geography lesson for trip planners and daydreamers.”
— Kirkus Reviews
And now it’s time to buckle up for another cross country trip with your favourite monster–from British Columbia to Newfoundland and all the Canada in between! Wherever you and your monster are traveling, Travel Guide for Monsters Part Deux: Canada is full of essential tips to help you both enjoy the sights of Canada and avoid monster-related trouble–eh?
Let’s ask some questions!
Q 1. There’s a monstrous amount of wonderful things to see and do in Canada. How did you select the locations and activities for this book?
LD: Thanks so much for letting us visit your blog to talk about our new book, Erin!
Believe it or not, I’ve never been to Canada! I know – it’s crazy! So, since Jocelyn grew up there, she suggested the locations. We came up with some of the activities together and some on our own.
JW: There really are so many great things to see and activities to do in Canada so we tried to have a good mix of geographical locations, fun activities/events and traditions, of course with a silly monsterly spin! I’ve told many people that even though I’m from Canada, it’s HUGE and very difficult to see all of it. When we would get time off work for vacation, we would usually head south to a warmer climate so many of these locations and activities are bucket list items!
Q 2. I understand you two first met when Lori was your PB Mentor, Jocelyn.
Lori, what drew you to Jocelyn’s work?
LD: Jocelyn is an excellent rhymer and has a wonderful sense of humor, so I knew after one reading of her manuscript, The Three Canadian Pigs, I wanted to mentor her. We both love rhyming and puns (and pigs), so it was a great partnership. [ED Note: Read more about these Hockey playing pigs here. ]
Jocelyn, what advice or guidance did Lori give you that resonated with you?
JW: Too much to say really – it was such a wonderful experience! But I did write a blog post about it about this time in 2021 which can be found here.
In short though, my favourite piece of advice from Lori was to Never settle for something that “just works.” It’s an ode to her work ethic and it’s something I really admire about her and hope that it continues to rub off on me! It certainly was the case during our mentorship together and she really worked with me to get my manuscript to sing! I’m so grateful for our time together!
Collaboration from Different Locations
Q 3. What was your co-writing (in rhyme, no less) process like—given that you don’t live in the same town? Did you have weekly zooms? Exchange a million emails? Did you split up the spreads? Any collaboration tips?
JW: I had approached Lori to see if she would collaborate on a sequel to her Traveling Monster story with a draft already formulated in the same rhyming structure as her original. Once Lori was onboard with the project, we worked on the couplets together, writing many more than were included in the final project or tweaking existing couplets. We actually shared a google doc and each took turns writing in real time.
It was really neat to watch her work by watching the cursor write, then backspace and try out different word combos etc. We were also texting and messaging different ideas while we were working on the google doc. It was one of the most fun writing days I’ve ever had.
LD: When Jocelyn asked me about writing the sequel together, I was hesitant because I wasn’t sure I could write with someone else, and I also wanted to make sure I’d be able to write an equal number of stanzas (my writer’s ego). Jocelyn sent the stanzas she’d written along with a list of other locations we could write about and, once I wrote and was happy with several of my own, I agreed. That’s when the fun began – and it was way easier than I thought it’d be!
Q 4. Have you ever kissed a cod? Please explain this tradition! [ED Note: It’s in their book, readers!]
LD: I have not – but maybe one day . . . a girl can dream!
JW: Sadly no! But I have heard so much about this fun and slightly icky tradition which honestly sounds like a hoot. Newfoundlanders have a “Screeching-in” ceremony for non-Newfoundlanders. Here is a condensed version of the entry from Wikipedia:
“The “screech-in” is a ceremony performed on non-Newfoundlanders (known to Newfoundlanders as a “come from away” or “mainlander”) involving a swig of rum, a short recitation, and the kissing of a cod. It is often performed either in homes or more commonly in town pubs.
The general process of a screech-in varies from pub to pub and community to community, though it often begins with the leader of the ceremony introducing themselves and asking those present if they’d like to become a Newfoundlander. The proper response would be a hearty “Yes b’y!”
A codfish – or any other fish unsightly enough to suitably replace the cod – is then held up to the lip level of each participant, who then bestows the fish with a kiss.”
You are now an honourary Newfoundlander!
Q 5. Jocelyn, aside from hockey, what might be the THREE CANADIAN PIGS’ favorite spread in this book?
JW: Oh definitely eating some MONSTER SIZED POUTINE! They are pigs after all!
Speaking of pigs, what might be Norbert’s (NORBERT’S BIG DREAM/ Sleeping Bear) favourite spread in the book, Lori?
LD: I think Norbert’s favorite spread would be in Manitoba – He would love to swim with the beluga whales!
Q 6. What surprises did illustrator Marcus Cutler, who also did the art for Jocelyn’s THREE CANADIAN PIGS (Sleeping Bear), bring to this Part Deux project? He definitely kept the fun going from Dave Szalay’s illustrations of Lori’s first TRAVEL GUIDE FOR MONSTERS.
LD: Marcus’ illustrations are amazing, and he did Dave Szalay proud! I love that he’s a Canadian too, so he knew the types of surprises to include, which Jocelyn could tell you more about.
JW: Marcus is the master of the easter egg that’s for sure. He snuck in lots of sports references (I think I see two prominent hockey player references) and I love that he incorporated the VW Bus from the first TRAVEL GUIDE…
LD: I love that too! [ED Note: Look for the VW bus on the covers, readers!]
Q 7. Will the monsters be visiting any other countries? (And gee—will you have to go there to do the research?)
LD: I pitched the idea to our editor, but she didn’t bite. Maybe if the book does well, she’ll change her mind. I thought it would be fun to pair up with authors from other countries, as I did with Jocelyn! Then go there for book tours of course!
Q 8. What projects are you working on that you can share?
LD: I have several manuscripts (in both rhyme and prose) that I’m excited about. I’m in the process of submitting them to editors who will hopefully be as excited as I am!
JW: Several of my manuscripts are in the query trenches right now as well. An evil turkey and a math-loving cow are just a couple of my main characters.
We can’t wait!
Thanks again to Lori & Jocelyn for joining us today.
To learn more about these talented authors and their work go to:
Next on the blog:
Celebrating two wonderful GreenPB2023 Books —
MY GRANDPA, MY TREE AND ME by Roxanne Troup
and THE FOREST KEEPER by Rina Singh