Audio Recording for “Axel’s Chain Reaction” happened very fast. I had already requested quotes from recording studios several months back, and suddenly we were leaving Spain (or rather: jumping ship). I had already contacted our narrator a while back: a young American actor named Paul Gladis, who worked as a music teacher. He liked the story of this creative kid so much, he offered to accommodate to my small budget. In a question of days I found several American families who were willing to volunteer with both adult and children’s voices. I have to specially thank all the kids who patiently waited for their turn at the recording studio.
You might not believe this, but I went through three illustrators in this process, before starting to work with Mónica Armiño. I had liked her work since I saw it in Advocate Art’s print material at the Bologna Book Fair. But I thought she was so good, she was probably outside my budget.
Lacking much capital, I first contacted an illustrator with the hope of partnering with him using a revenue-share scheme. He promised he was so interested in doing a book app, he wouldn’t put my project at the end of the line, after his other commissions. No such luck. (Alarm signs: he didn’t want to sign a contract).
I started to work with another illustrator, and then another. I realized I was getting nowhere with such a small budget. Having to start my search all over again, asking for quotes four times around, meant the final process of illustration started a year later than I had planned —after I had found all the rest of my suppliers and partners. But boy, was Mónica worth it. She’s not only a very professional, talented, and dedicated illustrator. She was also easy to work with, as I was open to accept her ideas, and she was flexible in incorporating my own. I’m sure you’ll all love her illustrations as much as we do.
I have to confess. Since my BA thesis (a children’s series that mixed fiction and non-fiction to educate kids in art appreciation) back in 1995, most of my writing had been non-fiction. So that meant brushing up on the essentials of storytelling for children, and reading about interactive storytelling. Since I wanted to incorporate interactions into the book app in a way that was actually relevant to the story, this meant sometimes altering the story’s events. It took me several months of re-writing my story over and over again —there were so many messages I wanted to convey, so many things that couldn’t be just said directly. My story was based on messages of reassurance and encouragement I wanted to get across to my own son. But I also wanted it to have humor —an indispensable ingredient for kids media.
Once I had finished the story structure and a version of the manuscript I felt was ready for critique, I searched for freelance editors specialized in kid’s books. The first two weren’t very useful (one was discouragingly harsh, and the other was too bland), but I was fortunate to find Lisa Rojany Buccieri. In only three rounds of corrections, Lisa helped me take my manuscript to a point where we were both happy with it.