Ruby and the Sniffs

– The New York Times says:

“lively dialogue” “expressive illustrations”

read more reviews here

This long overdue RUBY sequel was already outlined 13 years ago, not long after the first Ruby was finished. As usual, I found it hard to focus on just one story and continually wrote new outlines and many unconnected scenes to several stories at once. This often happens as story threads go off course and are rejected. Most writers can relate to how hard all those precious bits of “genius” are to throw away.  I am pretty good at recycling. But it can be dangerous to become too attached to your own waste bin.

This adventure, like the first Ruby book, is a fairy tale gone terribly wrong. The story follows a similar pattern, but has a bit more action and longer conversations between Ruby and the other characters.  The plot is very loosely based on the Three Bears, but there are three pigs instead, not to be confused with those other three pigs. (I got a chance to draw one of them in the second “I Read To You…” book) There is also a serious case of mistaken identity, and a surprise ending. All very thrilling… I hope. Personally, I like Mrs. Mastiff more than Ruby’s mom, so I had her feature more in this story. Also, one of the characters intentionally has more than a passing resemblance to the villain of the first book.

I enjoy writing funny stories. But it can be a mystery as why it works or not. It has to pass all these adults who are buying the books first before the kids get to weigh in. I have more of a subversive sense of humor and end up having pages of stuff edited out for fear of confusing or offending the delicate ears of some adults. (The kids I don’t worry about. They usually get it.)

Various classic characters influenced the Sniffs. The idea of an oversized, overenthusiastic baby was a vaudevillian staple. Big creatures being scared of something a little creature isn’t, is always funny. I think so anyway. And mistaken identity – who wouldn’t laugh at that…. Hello?…hello? Is this an audience or an oil painting?

Being funny is one thing you can never declare about yourself. You never know if you’ve succeeded in being funny – only the audience can decide that. But I do know it is always harder trying to be funny than trying to be serious.

As somebody cleverer than I said, “Dying is easy, comedy is hard.”