My goal on this blog is often to get writers thinking about exciting hooks for picture books.
Zombies? ERMMMFFF! (“Yes!” in zombie-talk.)
Frankenstein? AHHHGGGRRROOOOOWWWZZZ! (“You bet your sweet bippy!” in Frankenstein-talk.)
How about all THREE in one book? (Sorry, that one broke my translation tool!)
Well, Annette Simon already beat you to it!
ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN is the story of two nuts-and-bolts buddies who try to one-up another. So I wanted to see how Anette one-upped a fabulous ROBOT idea to make it a triple-threat.
AS: Robots and zombies may be getting some extra attention now (and for that I’m grateful!), but I think that from a kid’s perspective, they’re pretty standard characters. Like pirates, superheroes, and outer space invaders, they aren’t new subjects, just fun ones, and why not combine? My youngest, who’s now 18 and soon to graduate from high school, came to his fifth birthday party wearing a pirate hat, a tie, and a chef’s apron.
TL: In your book, the robots try desperately to one-up another. This is brilliant, as you’ll often see young children doing this. I remember dance class when I was seven, a girl told the instructor she practiced for an hour every day. Then came shouts of “I practice two hours” until I finally said “well, I practice TEN hours a day”. So funny. At the time I thought I was impressing everyone, but now I realize they knew I was lying. Do you have a childhood one-upmanship experience that gave rise to the ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN story?
AS: Hmm. Tara, I pinkie-promised my sister I would not divulge details. (Let’s just say I won. All the time.)
I wish I had some fantastic backstory about this book. The truth is not glamorous: Robot and Robot showed up in little snippets as I walked, cleaned my house, grocery-shopped, and waited in car pool. They crept in from the fringes while I was busy querying agents with other stories.
But I do want to share something that may be especially dear to readers of your blog. These two cartoons by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman have smiled from my fridge for years. (You can tell they’re old by their colors.)
My youngest is about to head off to college, and I’m realizing I will have to find another excuse, er, reason, as to why I’m not more prolific. Or else just get my butt back in chair.
It’s still complicated.
TL: Did you give your robot characters names as you were creating them? What do you think their names really are?
AS: I did kinda play around with names. For awhile, I thought of Robot and Robot as Cy and Borg, then Cy and Henry (Henry = the measuring unit of inductance– sounds smart, huh?) or Hecto (a computer measurement for 100). My fabulous editor, Mary Lee Donovan, sometimes nicknamed them Watson and…Isaac? Asimov? Chip? I can’t remember. In story discussions, we called them Purple and Green. In the end, they each said, “I, Robot.”
I hope one day the robots get a pet; I have a fun long list of pet names.
TL: Is there anything your robots wanted to be, but they didn’t get the chance to transform themselves? Anything cut out of the final version that you wish would have remained?
AS: As far as cutting-room-floor material, here’s a spread that didn’t make it. But, should Robot and Robot one day go trick-or-treating…
Well, folks, you can one-up your friends by not only winning a SIGNED COPY of ROBOT ZOMBIE FRANKENSTEIN (which is a *perfect* Halloween read), but by also winning cool robot chest iron-ons! Impress your friends, neighbors, and local Kindergarten classes!
Just leave a comment to be entered. A winner will be randomly selected one week from today!
Annette Simon says that when she was in kindergarten, she was named Best Artist in her class. When she was in the third grade, she won her school’s Fire Prevention Week poster contest. After she graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art and Planning, Annette earned awards as an advertising creative director. Now, she writes and draws for young readers. Simon says she could not feel more honored. Learn more about her books at AnnetteSimon.net.