Happy 4th of July! We’re celebrating with an early #BookBirthday post about debut author/illustrator Z.B. Asterplume’s sweet picture book, SOMETIMES, A TIGER (Feiwel & Friends) releasing next week: July 11th!
“A sparse pantry still holds possibility…and a tiger!” –Kirkus
And we have Questions!
Q 1. What was the inspiration for SOMETIMES, A TIGER?
Z.B.Asterplume: Thank you so much for this opportunity!
I had made a drawing of a boy and two tigers. The tigers were wearing leashes and the boy was holding them. One of the tigers was behind the boy, laying on the ground. The other tiger was in front of the boy half off the page, pulling at the leash to go forward.
I thought the drawing needed a story so I originally wrote a story called A TIGER BEHIND, A TIGER IN FRONT. It was about what holds us back and what propels us forward. It was boring and I couldn’t stand seeing a tiger with a leash. So, I got rid of the leashes and followed the tiger going forward.
Follow the Tiger
The next day, I wrote what would become SOMETIMES, A TIGER in the car, on the way to meet a good friend at a book conference (at stop lights of course.) I walked in and sat in the audience for the first presentation, writing the manuscript. By the time we went to a dummying breakout session, I had a manuscript to start dummying. None of it looks anything like how the book turned out.
Q 2. They say each of our books is a bit autobiographical. Would you say are most like…
Z.B.Asterplume: I feel like I resemble every character in the book on any given day. As I wrote it, I thought I was the mom, of course. But really, I am often like Dario, trying to think of the most interesting way to overcome a challenge. Sometimes, I am like Old Mr. Townie, stuck in my own backyard. Most of the people in the book are inspired by teachers, artists and student I have known.
Process and Patience
Q 3. As a debut author/ illustrator, has the process of going from idea to published book been what you expected?
Z.B.Asterplume: I had no expectation of what the process would be like when the book was acquired. It was the middle of the pandemic so I am betting the process was different from what it might have been otherwise.
The best (and hardest) part about the process was the waiting. It was originally slated to come out quickly but ended up being almost three years from acquisition to launch. That said, I had plenty of time to grow as an artist. Which I needed.
We even changed the title of the book a month after it was originally supposed to be out. And I am so glad we did. Every moment we had to look at it and make a change, changed it for the better.
Take-aways, Surprises, and Tigers…
Q 4. What do you hope readers will take away after reading SOMETIMES, A TIGER?
Z.B.Asterplume: I like to leave a lot of room in my stories for readers to get what they want/need out of them. It was my editor that told me I had written a book about food insecurity. I thought I had written a book about optimism: looking at challenges through the most fun lens possible. My two sons and I were struggling to put food on the table at the time, so naturally that made it into the book, but it was not what I thought I was writing about.
I hope readers see that we all have struggles: bakers, grocers, teachers, hungry children, hard-working moms. Imagine if you had a tiger or an octopus to help you though. Seriously, just imaging that makes it better. I promise.
Q 5. Is Z. B. Asterplume your real name?
Z.B.Asterplume: The answer is no, not exactly. My name is Amber. But Amber would never be able to make a book on her own. She needs her family and friends and critique partners and the BEST agent and editor and a slew of art directors and every other person she has ever met to make a book. Collectively, that’s what makes up Z.B Asterplume.
The Origin Story of Asterplume
The name Asterplume does have a story though. I used to buy a three pack of Pilot fountain pens that included a black pen, a blue one and a purple one. The blue one I wrote checks and grocery lists with (bleh), the black one was reserved for drawing ONLY, and then there was this purple one left over. I began using the purple ones to write. Thus, aster(purplish flower) plume (pen).
Thank you, Z.B., and happy
Happy Book Birthday to
To learn more about Z.B. Asterplume and her work, check out her web site: asterplume.com
her page at East/West Literary Agency,
and follow her on Instagram : z.b.asterplume
Next week on the blog: It’s the #BookBirthday of Mitali Perkins’ mg HOPE IN THE VALLEY.
Happy Summer Reading to ALL.